Need to Make Strategic Sales Structure Decisions?

By Mark Allen Roberts

Business owners, CEO’s and Sales Leaders are working to determine the best strategic sales organizational adjustments they need to make now and post Covid-19.

Some leaders talk about surviving right now, keeping their head above water, not needing to close locations and so on. Many share it is difficult to develop a strategic plan with so much uncertainty and chaos.

A select few leaders however are focused on not just surviving now but thriving after Covid-19. They have decided to stop waiting and start strategically planning the best sales structure for today and the future.

This post is for leaders who have decided to play offense and not just survive but thrive.

If you who wish to use this current time to retool and reorganize your sales team to meet buyer needs today and in the future, Harvard Business Review published an excellent article: Right Personnel Decisions Now to Thrive After the Crisis.

In this post I will share some of the insights from the Harvard Business article and discuss how to design your sales structure now to thrive after Covid-19.

The article starts (as it should) reminding us cash is king in such challenging and turbulent times. Leaders must review the data they have today, conduct scenario simulations and make strategic decisions to improve their cash position now.

This topic of improving your cash position is a topic I am many thought leaders are writing about and Bain’s post on 5 ways to protect cash provides great advice.

Why this timely Harvard Business article captured my attention is the author does an excellent job of sharing how to make strategic decisions about your people.

The author shares there are basically 4 categories of people decisions:

Repurposing

Engagement

Learning and up skilling

Right Sizing

Lets take a closer look at each.

Repurposing

Identify what parts of your business are slow or have stopped completely and how can you repurpose the people that support those areas to new areas to add value today.

If you find yourself having outside salespeople working virtually you may wish to assess their virtual selling skills and provide training for any skills gaps you discover.

My prediction is many sales teams will reorganize to leverage the productivity of an inside sales and virtual sales model during and when we emerge from Covid-19.

Engagement

Prior to Covid -19 many teams had concerns with employee engagement. Some studies shared as much as 65% of employees are not engaged and doing just enough to get by. This was costing organizations billions before Covid-19.

The author shares a key part of getting through a crisis is bringing your top performing team members with you and keeping them engaged.

Has your organization done an employee engagement research study?

What % of your team was not engaged?

What % of your team is not engaged today?

I have seen as high as 30% of the current team lack the will to sell in some sales organizations. In other words they are in a sales role but lack the commitment, motivation and often sales skills to drive revenue growth.

When needing to change the sales organization I would first seek those on the sales team without a will and desire to sell and try to find other non quota carrying roles where they can add value.

Learning, Retooling, Up skilling

As teams prepare to become more buyer centric they will often need additional training and up skilling for new roles. Many teams are currently assessing if they have the right salespeople in the right roles and if not what changes will need to be made.

As teams strategically use assessments, customer surveys and transaction data to identify the right person for the right roles, there will be a need for training by role.

The author reinforces the need to identify skills gaps now and use this time to close these gaps now.

How do you assess sales skills today?

What common sales skills gaps have you identified by sales role?

How do you plan to improve sales skills today?

Right Sizing

The hardest part of adjusting your organization to a shift of this magnitude is letting people go. Downsizing, furloughing, laying people off, eliminating their positions…whatever you call it is tough and very emotional.

It is a leaders job to make the tough calls based on the best information they have today.

My recommendation is take a data driven approach to making these tough decisions.

How do your buyers want and need to be served today?

What new skills will your sales team require?

What sales skills do your top performers have in each sales role?

Do you have the right person in the right role today?

What is my suggestion to solving this complex sales team right sizing, re tooling problem?

Consider many data points and leverage data to make decisions not just use your gut and intuition.

You need to answer the questions:

Who are my most and least profitable customers?

What do my buyers want and need from salespeople today?

Do I have the right salespeople in the right roles based on their skills and beliefs?

What are the sales competencies of my top performers?

The author suggests you make sure and understand the unit economics before you lay anyone off or terminate their employment.

She suggests a thorough evaluation by solution, market, and customer segment.

Sales assessments that measures sales skills, motivations and beliefs coupled with sales transaction data and past performance data is the best method to make these hard decisions.

I use a data driven tool that considers the following when restructuring and rightsizing sales teams when necessary:

Revenue

Pipeline health

Sales skills

Sales beliefs

Sales motivation

Performance to KPI’s last 12 months

Compensation

Consultative sales skills

Ability to work remotely, virtually

Value based sales verse selling on price

As Rebecca Hones shares in this excellent and timely article we have 4 categories of people decisions when we face a crisis like we are in today as we discussed above.

I suggest this is a good time for you to assess the skills, beliefs and motivations of your top sales performers by role. Strategically use data to reorganize your sales team by role and recruit new salespeople that match the sales DNA of your top performers.

If you find yourself and your team needing to make the tough decisions and want help with a data driven tools that helps you explore various sales organization structure scenarios, please contact me.

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