Blog Article

How to Build a World Class Salesforce

Sales supervisors are the key to success

I have played a part in the reorganization and performance improvement of over 100 large sales forces. It’s my experience that whether change succeeds - and whether results significantly improve - depends much more on sales supervisors than on salespeople. When I’m working to improve the performance of a sales force, I give most attention to building competent sales supervision and sales training.

Fewer accounts means more sales

Salespeople love to have lots of opportunities. A salesperson who has ten customers to chase feels much safer than if they had only five. As a result, many salespeople are half chasing twice as many opportunities. They don’t sell deeply enough, they don’t plan adequately and they lose business to competitors who put more resources into the best opportunities. I often find that I can get a dramatic improvement in results by taking away 20 - 30% of a salesperson’s prospects. Salespeople hate this and they argue against it - but it works.

Salespeople must become value creators

Too many salespeople are “talking brochures”, trying to show customers how their products or services are better than competitors. This is traditional value communication selling and it no longer works. Salespeople today must move from value communication to value creation. The salesperson must add as much value as the product. This calls for creativity and problem solving. Selling is no longer about persuasion.

Coaching brings results

Every world-class sales force I’ve worked with puts great emphasis on coaching. They don’t just give lip service to coaching; they create systems and processes to make coaching happen. Yet few sales managers understand important coaching and sales training concepts, such as how skills coaching is different from strategy coaching. The best way to improve sales results is to make effective coaching and sales training happen.

Integrate sales and marketing

I’ve been working closely with Philip Kotler, the marketing guru, to find ways to help sales and marketing work better together. When we published some of our thinking recently in Harvard Business Review, we were flooded with emails from CEO’s, Sales VP’s and Marketing VP’s from all over the world. So we know it’s an important topic and exciting new ideas are being tried out.



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