I am 5 feet 10 inches tall, and have often wondered if I would be more successful if I was a full 6 feet or taller. Thankfully, a crucial difference between successful and less successful people is not their height, but their level of confidence and ability to make the best of what they have. I have learned through life that success has little to do with physical attributes, and much more to do with the ability to be bold enough to be proactive, to continually grow in thought and actions, and to step up to the plate at key moments.
As an Outsourced VP of Sales, many times I have listened to Sales Managers question how much more successful they would be if they managed a larger team with more resources available to cover additional sales opportunities and the management of key customers. They wonder, what level of success would be possible if they could manage a full marketing arm, along with a customer-focused pricing team, and a top large account management group?
Sales Managers of smaller companies with limited sales resources have a difficult decision to make regarding allocation of their small sales team – how do I attack the market, while servicing my current customers, when I only have a handful of people to cover so many roles and responsibilities?
The author Jag Randhawa once wrote, “The life of scarcity teaches creativity.” I agree with this, and I would add that scarcity also teaches strategy. Small companies have fewer resources, making the allocation of those limited resources extremely important. If your company is currently resource deficient with just a few people to cover inside sales, outside hunting, account management, pricing, and implementation – then what is the right formula, what is the ideal structure?
My recommendation is that you assess the organization of your sales structure by asking yourself the following questions:
- What is the current phase of your company’s business life cycle and what are your key objectives?
- As a company, are you in growth mode – attacking new markets, or retention mode – looking to maximize margin?
- How well aligned is your current structure to your sales strategy, ensuring you enable sufficient resources to target your strategic markets?
- How can we further leverage non-sales resources in the company to help cover existing key clients to create more bandwidth? Can large existing clients, with minimal growth opportunities, be assigned to administration?
Optimal resource allocation also requires an in-depth review of your sales structure and processes. Most small companies I have worked with have a poorly defined sales structure with team members running towards fires or unqualified opportunities. Further, a report from Booz and Company states that for two-thirds of companies, 90% of sales processes are completely at the discretion of the salesperson – totally undefined and managed. From my experience, these estimates are relatively accurate. Take time to document what must be done each day, within each sales opportunity, and attempt to minimize the administrative work which is non-value adding.
Winston Churchill famously quoted, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Most companies (especially smaller ones) are unable to provide optimal resources. Good sales leaders will assess the resources they have, ensure the processes are efficient, and use their available resources for optimal ROI. Similarly, I will never be 6 feet tall, but I really don’t need to be for success.