12 Questions to Assess Your Sales Force
A successful selling organization efficiently converts selling costs into effective selling activity that drive significant company results. Each of the following three components – selling costs, sales force activity and company results – can be measured to establish sales force efficiency and effectiveness. People and culture and the customer are the two final components to assess a sales force.
A company’s ability to convert sales force investment into effective sales force activity is directly related to its people and its sales force culture. Competent, highly motivated people working in a ‘success’ culture engage in the right activities. A company’s sales force activity is acknowledged by its customers in either a positive or a negative way to generate company results. These two components, people and culture and customers, are more ambiguous that the other three components of the sales force assessment, and their measurement is more challenging.
The five components within this framework provide a basis for assessing any selling organization. The framework organizes 12 questions used to evaluate a sales force:
Sales force investment
· Are our costs too high?
· Is the sales force sized correctly?
People and culture
· How good are the people?
· Is personnel turnover too high? Too low?
· Does the company have a ‘success’ culture?
Sales force activity
· Is customer coverage adequate?
· Does the sales force call on the right people?
· Does the sales force use the most appropriate customer attraction and retention process?
· Does the sales force meet the customer needs?
· Do customers continue to buy from the company?
· Can the company increase sales, market share or profits?
· Does the sales force generate enough new business?
Signs of sales force success are recognizable. A sales force is successful if its costs are under control and if it has highly motivated salespeople, a positive sales force culture, appropriate selling activity, high customer satisfaction, and significant sales and profits. Finally, a sales force is successful if returns per unit of activity are high and if activity levels are high relative to costs.
This sales force framework is both descriptive and diagnostic. It allows a company to assess the productivity level of its selling organization, but it does not tell the company how to increase sales force productivity. To improve productivity, the sales force investment component must be expanded to include the managerial decisions and the sales operations efforts that drive sales force productivity.