The key to unlocking your sales potential

Last year was a painful one for sales leaders, and your organization is looking to you to increase revenue. Your expense budget has been decimated, sales targets are a stretch, only a part of your sales organization is producing and pipeline management has been nearly impossible. Does this sound remotely familiar?

You cannot continue to operate as you have in the past and expect a different outcome in this economic environment. Take a new look at your budget, pipeline transparency and the level of activity and skill in your sales organization. 

Managing your budget

Your budget is always under scrutiny, and yet it seems as though you have little ability to impact rising costs. Your single largest expense item, outside of people, is probably your travel and entertainment budget which can be difficult to contain. I have worked with some companies that specialize in helping organizations reduce their costs, and in many cases the savings are dramatic. 

These companies get paid only if they can save you money and will not engage if there are no savings to be realized. It is a no-lose situation for you and your organization; use the savings on programs that will provide the tools to help your sales team grow the business.

Managing sales pipeline transparency

You have been dealing with low close rates, difficulty in tracking sales activity and prospects that fall through the cracks and disappear. If you have a customer relationship management system (CRM), is it setup to match your organization’s needs and are your sales processes synchronized to the tool that you are using? If not, now is a great time to reevaluate your CRM and sales processes and make sure the tool is working for you and not against you.

If you are not using a centralized CRM system, you may want to start evaluation of systems that allow you to manage your pipeline and sales process as the asset that it is. A web based CRM system allows you to be in control of the system and use it as a tool to uncover the effectiveness of your sales team. Using a web based system allows you to implement the tool on your timeline and not on your IT department’s. Many IT departments have a huge list of priorities already on their plate and it can be difficult to get their time and attention to implement a centralized CRM system. 

Managing your sales activity

Most companies have seen a dramatic change in their sales efforts over the past two years. Many have seen the average sale size drop and sales cycles increase, which in itself dictates a different size pipeline than before the recession. BUT most sales teams are running with a sales pipeline profile very similar to the one they ran prior to the recession. If this sounds like your company, it is time to evaluate your sales process and activity to readjust to our current reality.  

During this review, you may find that only a small percentage of your sales team is driving much of the activity and closing most of the business. The 80/20 rule comes into play with most sales teams, where 80 percent of your sales are typically generated by 20 percent of your sales people. Wouldn’t it be nice to clone your top performers? You can do the next best thing and profile your
top performers and hire sales people with similar attributes. There are a number of assessment tools available that allow you to screen potential new sales people as a part of your hiring process and give yourself a better chance to have a larger number of top performers on your team. 


The pressure associated with being the sales leader in any organization is huge. The company is relying on your team to grow the business and the cost of failure is high — High to the company and high to you personally. One statistic I read recently is the average tenure of a Director or VP of Sales is less than 24 months. Improve your changes to succeed by looking at some of the areas listed above and enlisting outside help to give you an independent look at your organization.

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Categories: Management & Leadership, Sales & Marketing