Finding the Nut: Driving Revenues Through Sales Process Efficiency

by Jim Sander, VP of Sales, ACA Talent

Ice Age Continental Drift was the second highest grossing movie this past weekend, in no small part thanks to its adorable character Scrat. If you’ve ever seen a promo for this or the three previous installments, you’ve no doubt seen Scrat the prehistoric squirrel chasing the perfect nut. No matter what perils he faces, no matter how hard he tries, that nut seems just out of his reach.

Unfortunately, in sales, we are often faced with the same scenario. We can see that golden nut, build a plan on how we’re going to get it, but too often it seems right outside our grasp. Whether it’s that one-in-a-million sale we’ve been trying to close forever, or simply a personal goal (I just need to lose 10 more pounds…Okay, 15 more), I think we can all relate.

With only five months left in 2012, I bet there are quite a few of us trying to figure out how we’re going to hit our annual goals. We’ve built a solid plan to get there, worked with marketing to promote it, battled competitors, won over new clients and saved our old ones, but as we examine the first half of the year, we realize that a really strong finish will be required to get there.

When faced with a continental divide of our own, we need to look beyond conventional methods to reach our goals. Driving revenue through margin reduction (whether by lowering pricing or increasing costs) may get you there, but it’s a short-term solution. Sooner or later, you’ll join the club that touts, “we’ll make it up on volume.”

There’s a better route to cross this chasm: the over-used, but still applicable “doing more with less,” better known as efficiency.

Have you taken a hard look at your existing processes and determined whether you can be more efficient? Your plant or operations teams spend the better part of their day looking for efficiency gains, but in sales, it’s often overlooked as a path to growth.

Take a look at all facets of the sale to see where you might be able to make some adjustments to increase efficiency. What’s involved in your sales cycle? How might you make it more efficient? Find out what “B” work your team is doing and see if there’s a way to eliminate it. If it has to be done, explore options to see if someone else might be able to do it more efficiently.

Now step back and take a look at your organization. Is it efficient overall? Do you have the right players in place? It’s still a buyers’ market in the sales talent world, so ask yourself if you are taking advantage of it by making sure you have the most efficient team supporting your plan.

How efficient is the process you have in place to upgrade your team? When was the last time you challenged your recruiting team to improve their process in finding top talent? If it’s been a while, now’s the right time to take another look.

Most sales teams are made up of the following:

  • As: star performers
  • Bs: high potential players
  • Cs: average resources
  • Ds: others on their way out

Ask yourself, how did these C and D resources find their way on your team? You certainly never planned to hire them, but there they are nonetheless.

Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your process around talent acquisition. Technology has gone a long way in making selection easier. But is it better? If you’re still warehousing Cs and Ds, maybe it’s time to take another look. Top grading only works if your replacements perform at a higher level than those they replaced, so make sure you pay attention to how the new talent is being selected to insure your future success. If you need some support in how talent selection can affect your sales revenue, check out this handy online calculator.

Scrat will never get the nut, but we can. To do so, you have to take a hard look at how you’re getting there. Search out opportunities to drive efficiency in areas that you may not have considered recently. It’s a great way to add dollars to the bottom line and reach your objectives for 2012 and beyond.

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