There was a job description, so long ago – but in the last number of months or over the last year, things changed. The role morphed so much that at times, the team members are not sure if they are a salesperson or a whole host of other things.
Some roles morph from sales to part-time sales and part-time customer support.
Some roles morph from sales to “all hands on deck – whatever we need”.
Some roles morph from sales into collections.
Some roles morph from sales to research.
Regardless of how it happened or why it happened, there is one thing undeniable.
“One of the BEST ways to increase revenues without increasing headcount is to de-pollute your sales force,” according to Mike Moorman, Managing Principal at ZS Associates, a large business services firm that works to help transform sales for their clients. Mike spoke at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Boston this week and shared this simple idea with the audience.
Role pollution is when a salesperson is not fully focused on selling. They are side-tracked by most often customer service and support issues. The biggest challenge when this happens is that commitments for the sales portion of the job - especially sales activity levels as well as revenue commitments erode due to all the non-sales items that need to be focused on in the course of a day or a week.
One client put it well when they said in frustration, asked by their sales manager why they were not creating enough sales activity: “What do they want me to do? Sell, or support my existing customers?”
Because of this duality in role, the team member cannot do either job to the best of their ability, and ultimately both customer service and sales will suffer.
For a company limited in how revenues can grow this quarter because the deal pipeline is only so big, and you are not going to add headcount, why not consider clarifying roles and responsibilities with the team that you do have?
Get sales focused on activities that lead to net-new revenues. This could include some work with marketing on inbound activities, but not in supporting customers post-sale or in a split sales and support role.
Activities that lead to new revenues are measurable and sales people should be held accountable for that. It’s not that quantity trumps quality, but you at least need a benchmark to even know how much sales activity is happening. Good sales coaching can help you assess if the activities are those that could and will lead to new buyers working with your organization.
Gone are the days of grey areas when it comes to the sales force. Activity can and should be measured, reviewed, and assessed. Focus on the right activities in the frontline and you can affect 10% or more sales growth.
Clean up roles for sales team members, clarify duties, measure, and refine to build revenue growth. While you're at it, look at your own role - what have you taken on that isn't clearly focusing you on building revenue? How can you get it off your plate?
And if you are a sales leader looking to hire a “50 percent” sales person – meaning that they will sell for you part-time, and do other tasks the rest of the time, I’m here to advise not to do it.
Keep it clean out there. Let's help our sales reps get clarity and focus on revenue-producing activities. The health of your company ecosystem is at risk.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for tips and strategies in selling.