Sales Force Evaluation – Times Have Changed

I remember speaking at my first Inc. Magazine Growing the Company Conference back in 1994.  14 years ago, my primary message, the power of evaluating the sales force, was novel.  Even though the concept was brand new it was well received however, the standing room only crowd was comprised of only 100 Presidents.  The other 9,900,900 or so company presidents were still in the dark.

Today the sales force evaluation is a necessary, logical and helpful first step in the sales force development process.  It quickly identifies all of the issues, both obvious and hidden, people as well as sytems, processes and strategies, with well thought out explanations and actions. A company can easily work on the actionable items for a few years without running out of things to improve.

What’s changed?  We know more.  It’s been evangelized.  Pleased clients have talked it up.  Companies know about us.  It’s more or less the standard thing to do rather than the novel, scary thing to do.  And we haven’t rested on our laurels.  Even though we were first, we’ve continued to enhance it, push the envelope, and remain way out in front of the curve.

The only challenge to this is resistance.  I learned from Bob Kriegel, author of three great business books, that people resist for one of four reasons:

  1. Fear
  2. Complacency
  3. What’s in it for me?
  4. Dumped Down on Them (Pigeon effect)

Sales Managers tend to resist up front – they don’t want any part of a process that could possibly reflect badly upon them.  Salespeople tend to resist later, when they aren’t ready to agree with an accurate finding.  Presidents and CEO’s tend not to resist at all and, if change is to take place, they are the ones that need to drive the process. If those who report to them resist, strong CEO’s will push and pull them along while weak CEO’s may fear the push-back, giving validity to the resistance movement and preventing change from ever taking place.

Growing a company is all about change.  It’s never about standing pat.  Do you embrace change, always look for a better, more efficient, more effective way to get the result you’re after or do you embrace the status-quo?