When It’s Time To Rebuild Your Sales Team

by: Joe Connelly (VP Sales)

One of the toughest questions a CEO or VP of Sales must face is: “Should we rebuild our Sales organization?” If this decision is being considered, the outlook is probably pretty bleak:

  • Declining revenues and missed budgets
  • Lost strategic customers or major opportunities
  • Slowness in responding to major changes in the external environment (new competitors, new technologies, new markets)
  • Declining sales motivation and effort

Nevertheless, before taking more drastic actions it makes sense to FIRST try sales training, new sales tools or incremental sales support resources to improve the situation.  These incremental approaches are less risky, less expensive and can have more immediate impact. However, if after careful analysis it becomes clear that it is time to shake things up, consider these guidelines:

  • Ensure you recruit the very best new sales staff you can afford. A-players attract A-players so the long-term payback will be significant.  Besides, you certainly don’t want to face having to rebuild again in the near future.
  • Simultaneously rebuild and document your sales processes.  Effective processes become the “memory” of your sales organization throughout the changes.  Make the processes ‘light and efficient’ so they don’t overburden the new sales team.
  • Take a clinical approach to Customer Relationship Management.  Implement one of the many excellent off-the-shelf CRMs like Salesforce.com.  Avoid over-customization and homegrown solutions!
  • Cultivate adaptability to change as a core competency within the Sales organization
  • Lead with inspiration and motivation not through fear.  There will be plenty of uncertainty during the transition.  Your existing and new employees will need a clear vision and positive motivation now more than ever.
  • As CEO, empower your VP of Sales and your highly experienced Sales staff. You’ve put the future of the company in their hands so let them do their job by drawing upon their experience and playing to their strengths.

Often the decision to rebuild a sales team is deferred until the issues have become critical.  Despite the urgency, senior executives must give the new sales organization time to deliver results and must avoid the temptation to micro-manage.  Establish a clear and simple methodology to forecast business so the sales team can be held accountable with proper budgets. Then let your new top guns spend their time on meeting or beating their revenue and profit targets.  When it comes to sales results, the way to “Excel” is rarely through spreadsheets!

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