How to Assess & Audit Your Overall Sales Capability – Rating Your Sales Strength

Assessing Your Sales Force Strength to Identify Upside for Growth

If you need to assess your overall B2B Sales & Revenue Growth capability and strength, below are the key and high-level areas that I recommend to audit.  This doesn’t mean that you must do a deep dive into each and every area here but this is just an outline of key areas to help guide you in an audit of the most critical areas that will help understand the current status and what you can improve.

Also, it’s important to note that the order below is not meant to say that you should start with Sales Strategy before looking at the Sales Org. Always start with People first (i.e. People before Process or Problems) – talent in Sales is everything and all the results are based on the People you have on the team.

Here are the key areas where you would deep-dive and assess the strengths/capabilities and how they compare to “best practices” or what is done effectively within your specific industry and context – you want to get a rating (scale of 1-10) on each of these areas with the existing status and proposed ideas for optimization or improvement:

 

Sales Strategy

How effective and well-constructed is the Sales Strategy to attain sales goals?

  • Go-to-Market (GTM) Strategy
    • The “MAP”
      • Market – what is our market & its segments
      • Account Profile (ideal company profiles)
      • Persona Profile (target buyer personas)
    • Clearly defined Buyer Problem
    • What is the Product / Solution
      • how it solves the problem
    • Key stakeholders
    • Selling, direct or indirect
    • How are you selling it
    • Targeting / Communication Plan
  • Sales Process
    • Detailed sales process audit
    • What is the goal of each stage?
    • Review stages and entry & exit criteria
    • Is it clearly documented
    • Is the process customer-focused
    • Is it repeatable, consistent, scalable
    • what is the weakest link, bottleneck, constraint?
  • Sales Budget
    • Sales Budget Planning & Management
    • Budget Allocation
  • Revenue goals – next four quarters and twelve months
  • Segmentation Strategy
  • Verticals
  • All Sales Goals > Objectives > Actions
    • Overall sales target
    • Segmented goals – by product, by vertical/industry, etc.
    • Quota Targets (by group, by segment, etc.)
    • Other goals (may include recruiting, etc.)
  • Geographic markets
  • Strategic Planning Process
  • Partner / Channel Sales
  • Talent Strategy
  • Overall Sales Org SWOT

Sales Organization & Structure

How strong and effective is the Sales Organization to achieve the sales goals cost-effectively and with high ROI?

  • Sales Org Structure & Design
    • Design – the “design” strategy the Sales Org must precede your recruiting
      • whom you recruit (the kind of sales professionals) depends on the design
    • Current Org Chart vs. the Next Year’s Headcount Plan
    • Teams by Segment / Specialization
    • Focus – Territories/Geographies or Products, or Account Types
    • Span of Control
  • Sales Team & Talent
    • Right people in the right seats?
      • People are what makes the organization successful
    • Analyze the sales team / Talent Review
      • who are the A-Players
      • any Stars
        • any stars who are “aberrant geniuses”
        • are they helping to mentor/train
    • Skill-set Matrix
      • Competency & Skills assessment
  • Team Composition
    • Average tenure in sales (by SDR vs AE)
    • Personnel turnover – data for the last two years
    • Experience
    • Level / Role / Title
    • Quotas for various teams/roles
  • Sales Recruiting Process
    • Is there a systematic & scientific way of finding the right people
      • shouldn’t be a semi-random process
      • every candidate should be picked similarly
      • every candidate should have the same exact interview questions and must be compared equally
      • the goal should be to hire the same type of sales professional for each role every time
    • Strategy & process for recruiting and alignment with entire recruiting team
      • List of values, skills, abilities, and experiences the company is looking for
        • by role (ex: SDRs vs Inside Sales AEs vs Field Reps vs Account Managers, etc.)
      • List of responsibilities of the role and the qualities needed for each role
    • Interview process and criteria
      • lists of questions w/ assigned internal responsibilities and stakeholders
    • Recruiting criteria & job scorecard
      • describes the expectations for an A-Player / Top Performer
      • is there an “Ideal Salesperson Profile” (ISP)
    • Is the company attracting great candidates
    • Is the company hiring well / effectively
      • In sales, you can’t train people on motivation or drive – hiring well is the most critical part of sales management where each manager should be spending 10%-20% of their job (i.e. “every day is a draft day”)
      • what is the track record on hiring quality sales reps
    • Candidate Experience – design & plan
      • key area – evaluate the expectation-setting & communication with candidates
    • Develop a “Virtual Bench / Wish-List Team”
      • list of the top 10 great sales candidates the company wants in the long term
      • list of 10 great sales pros who won’t accept the job but can refer you to top candidates
    • Analyze the hiring effectiveness historically
      • past successful hires
      • past mis-hires
      • cost of mis-hires
    • Is the “Job Responsibilities & First 100 Days Goals” handed at the hiring (before onboarding)
    • Lessons from former sales employees
      • Voluntary
        • did any A-Players leave – why did they leave
        • can we get them back
      • Involuntary
        • lessons learned – how do adjust the recruiting criteria / scorecard
      • Prior Exit Interview records – is there a record and what are the insights/lessons
  • Sales Onboarding Process
    • Grading
    • Certification
  • Sales Culture
    • remember the quote “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” by Peter Drucker made famous by Mark Fields who was President at Ford
    • Sales Team Core Values, Principles & Tenets
    • Sales Team Chemistry
    • Celebration of Small Wins
      • Small wins in sales are critical as there are a lot more losses (80%-90% of the Opps or Live Deals are lost)
      • Create a culture of celebration – it’s part of the positive forward momentum you create in sales
      • Friday Update Email – should include small wins and recognitions
    • Standard of Performance
    • Sales Team Code of Conduct
    • Team Building Activities
    • Sales Team Engagement
      • Is everyone on the team connected to the company mission and vision?
        • are these clear to each sales professional?
        • is the team motivated/inspired/feel passionate about it?
      • Team engagement can be measured by whether people are staying or leaving
      • How is the team engaged by their management (reps should already be motivated but must be engaged)
  • Sales Effectiveness Drivers
  • Territory Design
  • Targeting the team – by territories or by industry, by type of customer
  • Coverage Plan
  • Compensation & Incentives Plan and Quota-Setting
  • Benefits & competitiveness of perks
  • Promotion Track & Process
    • Is there a documented and shared career ladder for SDRs, for AEs
      • should show goals, promotion track, $ OTE earnings, etc.
    • Is everyone clear on it
  • Sales Contests & Rewards
    • Awards & Recognition
    • Trophies
    • Sales Pro of the Month/Quarter
    • President’s Club trips
    • SPIFs
    • Group-based Incentives
      • Team outing at a sports game, or team dinner

Sales Messaging

  • Messaging Architecture & Choreography
    • Is it customer-centric & focused on solving a problem vs. product
    • Is there messaging by Problem connecting the solution/product to each problem
    • Is the messaging consistent and repeated
    • Is it using the best practices (i.e. the “2-20-2-20-2” rule)
    • Is it segmented, tested and optimized
    • Is the messaging focused on tangible “value-add & insight”
      • research shows that customers tend to choose the first sales rep who adds value and insight
        • see “Sales Differentiation” by Lee Salz
      • your sales team needs to be well-trained on adding value and insight
  • Sales Messaging Process
    • who develops it
    • who reviews it regularly
    • who is responsible for optimizing it
    • how is it used
    • how is the team trained on it
    • is it part of regular training
  • Types of Messaging
    • A lot of these are done in alignment and collaboration with marketing
    • The “Promised Land” Sales Pitch
    • Storytelling Messaging
    • Positioning
      • eg: see a definition and insights – book Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout
    • Unique Differentiation
      • is it based on what is important to the customers?
      • did the people closest to the customer get involved in creating it (sales, customer success, etc.)
      • Sales Differentiation vs. Marketing Differentiation
    • Unique Value Proposition
    • Elevator Pitch
    • The Slogan
      • i.e. “#1 for”
    • Use Cases & Problem Messaging
    • Customer Studies (POC) messaging
    • Voice of the Buyer
  • Talk Tracks & Scripts
    • for Calls
    • for Emails

Sales Management

  • Are there the 8 Sales Systems to Operationalize & Systematize all Sales Processes
  • How is the Leadership skill of the sales managers
    • Do they have strong leadership attributes
    • Teams reflect their leaders – and this boils down to what you do and what you tolerate
    • Does the Head of Sales (the top leader) and other sales leaders have their people’s interest at heart?
      • Does the sales team believe / trust that the leader cares and has their interests at heart
    • Are sales leaders/managers catalysts for growth and improvement vs. pressure cookers
    • Is the energy focused on intentional improvement and helping people achieve goals and grow
  • Overall quality of “communication” from executives > sales management > sales force
  • Sales Executives & Front-Line Management (FLM)
    • Rate the sales management capability and strength
    • Rate them on Leadership skills
      • Key traits of leadership
    • Rate the Analytical / Data-Driven Management Process
  • Management Development / Training / Coaching
    • It is crucial to train and develop your managers because their good/bad is amplified to all the sales reps
    • Are managers trained well
    • Is 1-on-1 Coaching done regularly by senior leaders for sales managers?
  • Is there a good system and a good set of processes in place?
  • Management Process
  • Sales Meetings Cadence/Rhythm
    • Weekly sets, Monthly, Quarterly
    • Annual Kickoff
  • Opportunity Management
  • Pipeline Management
    • Sales Stages
      • What is the goal of each stage
      • Entry or exit criteria
      • Milestones
      • Inspectable
        • IQ Email – Implicated & Quantified with response confirmation from the customer
      • Customer centric – i.e. named after the Buyers’ Journey vs. Sales Steps
      • Where are the Opps getting stuck the most
  • Forecasting Process
    • Review recent forecasts
    • Key Factors Checked
    • Forecast Rollup Process
    • Accuracy
  • Account Management
  • Team Development
    • Onboarding
    • Training
      • Is there a regular formal training – is it a process and is it scheduled on everyone’s calendar
      • is there a chosen Sales System or Methodology regularly trained
        • Sandler Sales Training, Force Management’s MEDDIC, Miller Heiman, Challenger, Solution Selling, Consultative Selling, Ultimate Influence Sales (Sharon Pearson), etc.
      • Training that is Problem-focused, not Product-focused
        • Problems of the Target Customer & Market
        • Is there a clear design for how each product/solution fits to each Problem
      • Is all the learning/development in the Learning Management System (LMS)
        • are there recorded videos, documents on an internal Wiki/storage, etc.
        • are new lessons, ideas and insights logged into the LMS regularly
      • 20% of the training will produce 80% of results – at the very least, these must be done regularly
        • 1 on 1 Coaching
        • Call reviews
        • Role plays
        • Sales Management Development
    • Continuous Knowledge Improvement Process
      • each member asked to do research and present & train others
      • each member to update the Playbook so it is a “continuous playbook”
    • Individual Development Plans (IDP)
      • each sales rep should develop their own IDP
    • 1-on-1 Coaching
      • is it done
      • is it done regularly – ideally a weekly meeting with each manager and their direct report
      • diagnose & tweak – incremental improvements (not overnight or major changes)
      • Coaching Plans for each Rep
        • each Sales Manager and sales rep should co-create this plan
        • coaching should focus on 1 specific skill/capability at a time
    • Call Reviews / Film Reviews
      • Self-assess calls
        • submit 1 call per week to the manager: what I did well + what I can improve
      • Team film reviews: 3 things done well / 3 things to improve
    • Role Playing
      • a critical part of the development
    • Regular Practice
      • are reps actually practicing their skills like demoing or questions
      • recall the 10,000-Hour Rule (see Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell)
      • it is critical to practice and not allow the actual work be your practice
        • should be “intentional” and on the calendar weekly
    • Do all the reps help and participate in doing the internal training
    • Is there focus on intentional improvement / being intentional towards continuous team improvement
    • How does the team model good sales habits
  • Sales Performance Management
    • Process for Performance Management
    • PIP
      • Process documented
      • Success Story (so that it demonstrates that people can succeed)
      • Track record
  • Process for Retrospectives
    • QBR – Quarterly Business Reviews (see my eBook on Sales QBRs)
    • Monthly & Quarterly “Self-Review” Retrospectives
      • should be done by each rep individually
      • self-reviewed metrics/KPIs – see example PDF of what they can
      • self-diagnosis & individual plans for hitting the number
    • Annual Reviews & Planning
  • Sales Force Meetings and Rhythm & Cadence for Teams

Sales Execution & Performance

  • Must be a system/process for execution
  • Adherence to the Sales Process
  • Sales Results over the last 8 quarters
    • # Deals Closed / Sales Bookings $
    • # New Logos per quarter over last 8 quarters
    • How many deals are pre-paid for the year
    • How many are multi-year
    • How is the renewal rate
    • Upsell/Crossell # and $
  • Quota Attainment % over the last 8 quarters
  • Culture of Execution, Performance & Accountability
  • Perform the 5P Analysis
  • Sales Meetings / Calls
    • Is it adhering to all the best practices
    • Active Listening (Listen:Talk Ratio)
    • Effectiveness of the “Hand-Off” process from SDRs to AEs
    • Process to be not a “demo” but a “meeting”
    • Customer Experience vs. Sales Demo or Pitch
      • customers remember the “experience” and not a pitch
    • Objections
    • Selling Skills
    • Count of No-Shows
  • Demo
    • A demo should not always be the same as a Sales Meeting
      • typically done during the first sales meeting but not always
      • the prospect should be qualified first (is it worth doing a demo)
    • Customer Experience during the Demo
      • Great experience makes you exceptional
      • i.e. People forget your demo and pitch, but they will never forget how you made them feel (the experience)
    • Demo process
    • Demo talk track
    • Quality of the demo – is it measured and reviewed
    • Qualification & discovery
      • Is the demo focused on the customer’s actual challenges
      • Is the sales rep doing the qualification or just doing a plain demo
      • Problem-focused Pain qualification questions
      • Gap questions
      • List of Questions
    • Talk-tracks in the playbook
    • Validate all key practices (i.e. avoid “spilling candy”, etc.)
  • Leaderboard – shown on the wall / updated regularly or daily
  • Effectiveness & Efficiency
    • What is working & What is not working
      • what is the weakest link, bottleneck & constraint – then reduce/eliminate it & optimize
    • What is waste – eliminate waste
    • Working hard or smart?
      • Is the team doing more of what doesn’t work?
      • Working hard doesn’t help if what you did last 2-4 quarters doesn’t yield results – need to change what you’re doing
  • Prioritization – figure out where you spend the time and where do you prioritize your time
    • Each rep should do a calendar review/audit – what are they prioritizing and are they focused on what moves the needle
    • Focus only on the 20% of those that are High Payoff Activities (HPAs) – 20% of actions produce 80% of results
  • Biggest challenge in selling
    • identify biggest challenges and problems during the sale that most reps face
    • analyze via a Win/Loss analysis – where are the most losses

Prospecting

  • Prospecting Strategy & Outbound SDR process
  • Inbound Leads vs. Outbound Breakdown
  • Effectiveness of Lead Generation > Pipeline Growth
  • RRA prospecting best practices
  • Named Accounts / Target Lists
  • What are the biggest objections

Sales Metrics/KPIs & Analysis

We will use some of the essential analyses, some of which are covered here – The Analytical VP of Sales’ Essential Analyses.  Also review this with an eye towards benchmarking the performance with regard to the overall market (this depends on the market/industry and our ability to obtain exact benchmarks).

Metrics / KPIs to Manage Sales Activities

  • Acitivity vs. Activity Goals
  • Connect Rate & Dials:Meetings
  • SDR Tracking by Rep
  • Efficiency of sales activities
    • by sales reps
  • Prospecting and last activity on leads (MQLs and SQLs)
  • Are sales activity metrics used effectively
    • to map the way forward vs. creating unnecessary pressure and over-indexing on looking backwards

Metrics & KPIs for Pipeline Management, Inspection and Analysis

  • Overall Pipeline Analysis
  • Inflow of Opportunities
    • Sources – Marketing-Generated vs. Sales
  • Opportunities Closed
  • Pipeline Contribution
  • Pipeline Mix
  • Trend in Pipeline
    • by count of Opportunities
    • by $ Amount of Opportunities
    • also analyzed by teams, reps, territories, segments
    • Pipeline Linearity
  • Stage Analyses & Conversions
  • Forecast
    • Forecast Flow
    • by Rep
    • Variance – committed vs closed

Metrics & KPIs for Deal Review / Performance / Results

  • Sales Bookings
    • Trend over time – Q/Q and M/M
    • by segment / vertical
    • geographies (Domestic vs. EMEA vs. APAC)
  • Sales Cycles
    • by segment / vertical
    • by teams / reps
  • % Win Rates
    • by segment / vertical
    • by teams / reps
  • Win/Loss Analysis
    • Why and when do we win?
    • Why do we lose deals?
      • What are the top loss reasons?
      • Assess whether the reasons are correct
  •  Revenue
    • Revenue growth (last 12 months)
  • Using Process & Metrics
    • for Personalizing Coaching (i.e. not as a stick but as a coaching tool)

Alignment

  • Marketing
    • SLA for Sales & Marketing
    • Lead Trajectory
      • Daily chart of Progress vs. Lead Goals
    • Process for Handoff to SDRs/Sales
    • What is the KPI for Marketing-Sourced Pipeline and Sales
    • Analyze Sales Activity on Marketing-Sourced Leads
      • activity analysis by teams or by sales rep
      • are reps staying on top of their leads
      • how many leads have had no activity in each rep’s assigned list or territory
      • average days of no no activity in assigned lists or territories
    • Is sales using marketing materials and what marketing creates
      • should be used vs. marketing doing more things
      • are marketing materials effective for sales
  • Product
    • Product Quality & CX/UX
    • Recent Product Launches
    • New Product Pipeline
    • Product goals for sales
    • Product Marketing docs for sales
    • Closed-Loop Feedback Process
      • is the Product team getting feedback from Sales / CS
    • Competitive Landscape
      • Market position vs. alternatives
      • Related strengths & weaknesses as perceived by the market
      • Basis of competition – price, service, technology, distribution, etc.
      • Innovation Capability
      • Product vs Competition Comparison
      • Audit how product capability affects sales
  • Customer Success
    • Sales to Customer Team Hand-off (Customer Success, Support, Service, etc.)
    • Process for a smooth and “Customer-Centric” hand-off
    • Voice of Customer (VOC) & capturing expectations, satisfaction score/NPS, etc.

Customers

  • How is the “customer knowledge” on the sales team?
  • Ask the sales team – are customers happy?
  • What is “Good” in the eyes of the customer?
    • is everyone aligned on what “Good” looks like in front of the customer
  • Overall customer experience (CX)
  • Perform customer interviews
  • What is the customer experience
  • Survey the customers – NPS or CSAT
  • Customer churn data / cohort analysis
  • Why do customers buy from the company over competition
  • What do customers consider the “Unique Differentiation”
  • Top customer challenges
  • Customer concentration
    • top 10 customers
    • any customers over 10% of total revenue
  • Customer expansion potential
    • Upsell
    • Cross-Sell
    • Process

Sales-Supporting Functions

  • Sales Operations
    • Dashboards, Reporting, Analyses, Insights
  • Sales Enablement (see more about Sales Enablement here)
    • Sales Playbook
      • Sales Plays
      • Sales Motions
    • Deal Management
    • Sales Training & Education
    • Sales Content
      • Assets
      • Competitive Battle Cards
    • Contracts Review Process
    • Pricing

Sales Technology Stack

Asses the right Tech Stack for your company based on your priorities and context.  See more in  Sales Technology Stack – 2019.

  • CRM
  • Sales Systems / Infrastructure
  • Sales Prospecting Productivity / Sales Engagement Platforms
  • Calling software
  • Sales BI/Analytics & Forecasting
  • Chat tools for Sales to connect with Prospects
  • Sales presentation / buyer engagement
  • Sales Meetings Conversation Tech
  • Sales Communication & Record of Team Discussions/Insights
  • Learning Management System / LMS
  • Sales Coaching System
  • Sales Leaderboard
  • AI-Powered Appointment Booking / SDR Tech
  • Prospecting Data / Intelligence
  • Also See: Marketing/Sales Tech Landscape