Collaboration in a Field of Sales Superheroes

After searching Sales Performance Management offers listed in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Sales Performance Management, I concluded that salespeople collaborated so well that there was no need to offer a collaboration solution. There was “incentive pay and commission management”, “people management”, “quota allocation”, “pipeline management” and other useful subjects but nothing to write home about when it came to “sales collaboration”.

To me, sales collaboration is about working together and helping each other to meet planned goals, not just sharing documents. Sales teams need resources and the ability to effectively influence the customer to buy more. Lets say our teams have the best resources instantly available to convince a client. They can still fail to meet their targets because there are not enough clients to serve or win over.

Think of two ice cream-trucks on a summer`s day. It is scorching hot in Venice Beach, tourist buses have just arrived and it is raining at Malibu Beach. One truck gets wiped clean of 1,000 cones in hours, and goes home,  the other waits for its first cone all day.  One exceeds target,   the other comes home empty handed.

End of day, total sales amount to 1,000. The potential was clearly more than 1,000, but just did not happen. Venice met target, Malibu did not, ice-cream man in Venice got a commission, the other not. You get the picture!

So why did they not collaborate? They did not know, and did not care, too busy selling to ask for ice-cream? The message in this example is over-simplified but hardly an exaggeration. Can we agree that all stakeholders stand to gain from collaboration to sell 1,400 instead of 1,000.

Correct goal setting can be hard – it is not just the external factors that matter, but allocation of internally available resources. First question: Why did the company load equal quantities of product into the truck? Is the foot traffic (ice-cream demand) the same in each area? Is consumption per person the same? Is the frequency of consumption the same? Do some people slurp 2 cones at a time? Probably not. Then, there is the salesperson – is one more effective in selling to older folk and the other to children?

I suppose we can say targeting is complex. The path to sales success (meeting a quota) has many factors and striking the right balance between all these factors to achieve higher revenues and higher efficiency differs from Venice Beach to Malibu Beach to Santa Monica! The most important question is “what is the quota?” and “why is that number correct?”

I would suggest that  sharing factual information and decision advice matters more than predicting the weather correctly.