Messages that Matter: 7 Traits of Effective Sales Organizations


Posted By Dr. Tom Sant | Dec 12, 2011


With apologies to the late, great Stephen Covey and his Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, here are the seven traits of highly successful sales organizations. They're presented in alphabetical order, because they all matter.

1. Organizational Alignment

Effective sales organizations are seen as indispensible to the long-term success of the organization. Top management understands the importance of the work the sales organization does and makes smart decisions to give the sales organization the autonomy and resources necessary to thrive. Creating a world-class sales organization is considered a goal that's as important as running a lean manufacturing facility.

2. Outstanding Content

Persuasion is the art of delivering the right content in the right order to produce the right result. Content takes many forms: answers to frequently asked questions in an rfp response, sales presentations, elevator speeches, content for nurture messages, and much more. World-class sales organizations create outstanding content—client-centered content that focuses on bottom-line value—and make it easily available to the sales force. After all, unless the sales team has easy access to that great content, they can't begin to achieve their potential.

3. Flawless Execution

Successful sales organizations and the people who work in them have the ability to get things done. In sales, execution is one part excellence and two parts persistence. When the proposal is due and time is short, they get it done. When the sales rep needs to present to a top executive, one who doesn't normally meet with sales people, he or she gets it done. Great sales people are relentless when it comes to moving deals forward and getting to the next stage of the sales cycle. They execute!

4. Strong Leadership

One of the most difficult leadership roles in any business is the Head of Sales. Managing a sales team means that you must set aggressive but achievable goals, serve as a role model and a mentor for the members of the sales team, coach the weak, stay out of the way of the strong, and check your own ego at the door for the good of the team. Strong sales leaders can do a pipeline review that clears away the fog of optimism and focuses on the realities of revenue without alienating the sales person.

5. Establishing an Effective Sales Process

A good sales process helps us do the right things the right way. Naturally, the process we follow will vary from industry to industry. For example, selling information systems to the U.S. Federal government calls for a dramatically different process than selling bookkeeping services to small businesses. But in every situation, the process must focus first on the prospect. Step one is uncovering their needs or problems, and then articulating the value of solving those problems or meeting those needs. Only after those basic steps have been completed can the process move on to presenting our products or services as solutions and offering evidence of our ability to deliver. There's much more to defining the right sales process, and flexibility should always be at its core, but without a defined process to follow, a sales organization rapidly disintegrates into chaos.

6. Having the Right Tools

Sending a sales force into the field without the tools it needs to work efficiently is like sending soldiers into combat without modern weapons. They may win a few battles through cunning and guile, but over the long campaign they will be at such a strategic disadvantage that they will fail. Successful sales organizations recognize that tools must help the sales person do his or her job better. Everything else is secondary. For instance, a CRM system should be chosen for its capability to help the sales person close deals, not for its ability to feed data into accounting software or to give managers a virtual means of peering over the sales person's shoulder.

7. Training

Great sales people posess certain traits that can't be taught—competitiveness, drive, and the ability to bounce back quickly from rejection, for example. But even people who have the right traits need to develop their sales skills—the insight to discern good deals from bad ones, the ability to deliver a powerful presentation, the skill to negotiate a favorable agreement, and more. Highly successful sales organizations select sales professionals with the right traits and then train them to excel.

Can We Add One More?...

And, at the risk of breaking Covey's proven pattern by adding an eighth characteristic, truly great sales organizations invest in the sales enablement tools available from Qvidian. Why not take a look at what these systems can do for you and your organization?