Selling Power Magazine Article

It's Time to Build a Better Sales Engine
Gerhard Gschwandtner
Sales leaders want to build the ultimate sales machine that continuously creates money. Business battles are won by how fast you can create customers, how fast you can raise your price, and how closely you can align sales behaviors with your sales strategy.

Here are the four parts of a successful sales engine:

1. Build a better pipeline. Lead generation is a top marketing challenge. Reaching the decision maker is a close second. Effective lead management depends on three key factors: First, sales and marketing must be aligned and agree on the definition of a lead. Second, the capacity to generate leads has to be in sync with the sales team's capacity to follow up on these leads. Third, to engage and interact with prospects in a meaningful way, salespeople need to have access to the right information at the right time. Leads are the fuel for the sales engine. 

2. Create a better message. In a market that's heavily impacted by commoditization, it is important to engage the right prospects with the right message. A value-driven message that's embedded in a quality conversation can turn into a key competitive differentiator. While many companies allow salespeople to continually improvise their conversations, successful companies are creating conversation maps that start with the customer's business objectives and core challenges and lead salespeople to the most relevant and insightful responses. What sells in today's market isn't knowledge; it is insight that exposes untapped business value. Ideally, message management will challenge customers in value-based conversations. Customer messages are the road maps that will get you to the right destination.  

3. Create more excitement. Accurately calculating sales commission using  such traditional methods as spreadsheets is a complex challenge in any sales organization. Slow payments render even the most strategic incentive plans ineffective when salespeople can't connect the dots between their rewards and their sales behaviors. When commission payments are not accurate, salespeople lose trust in their company's ability to deliver on their commission plan, and sales managers often invest their precious time resolving clerical errors. Inaccurate payments lead salespeople to create their own shadow accounting process, which takes them further away from the customer. Successful companies have deployed incentive compensation solutions to align selling behaviors with their business objectives. Compensation management ensures that your sales engine is running on all cylinders.


4. Transform your sales engine. The fastest-growing area in sales management is gamification. Gamification describes the use of games to enhance business performance. Gamification relies on technology that encourages users to engage in desired behaviors. Gartner, a leading information technology research and advisory company, predicts that by 2015, more than 50 percent of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes. Gamification taps into people's native instinct to play, keep score, and enjoy virtual rewards. It's not that games will transform work into play; rather, the game element will inspire the player's commitment to perform at a higher level. Gamification allows companies to reward honor badges to salespeople, celebrate winners on flashy electronic scoreboards, launch friendly competition, and create point systems as a reward for achievement. Gamification will transform your sales engine into a rocket ship.
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