Want to raise sales productivity? Shift… and Lift!
We recently analyzed the responses of over 25,000 high tech sales people to the question “What is your #1 sales inhibitor?” After careful review of their text answers, “Customer Issues” surfaced as the #1 inhibitor. That’s right – sales people would be so much more productive if it wasn’t for those darned customers! This was followed closely by “Admin & Reporting”, and “Poor Systems / Processes”. See the table below for a complete list of the Top 10 Sales Productivity Inhibitors.
Of course ignoring customer issues would obviously have detrimental results. Yet these findings indicate the heavy toll that managing customer issues can have on a sales person’s time and mindset on getting ahead. The common strategy for addressing this problem is often referred to as “Shift and Lift”… Shift the lower cost, post sales activities to support roles in order to Lift the sales person’s productivity by allowing them to focus more on selling.
Closer review of the comments tied to “Customer Issues” indicates that these are largely post-sale related issues, including “following up on customer issues”, “resolving customer problems”, “navigating customer processes”, “dealing with customer bureaucracy”, and so on. At the Alexander Group we have seen Hi-Tech companies of all shapes and sizes struggle with this. Solving for it best begins with a benchmarking assessment to determine the “Shift” and “Lift” opportunity. A good assessment will reveal where the biggest productivity improvements exist.
Client Snapshot: One large high tech company more than doubled their selling time using this approach. They moved the average rep selling time from 15% to 32%. The increase was a result of:
1) better customer support (+7%)
2) less admin and reporting (+8%), and
3) more efficient prospecting (+2%)
They accomplished this gain over the course of 18 months and through careful and thoughtful implementation of several courageous changes.