According to a working paper by Doug J. Chung (Harvard Business School) sales force costs average about 10% of sales revenues and as much as 40% of sales revenues for certain industries. Therefore, when managing a sales network (particularly in B2B companies where personal selling is probably the most important element in the value chain) we must be sure that the level of productivity is the highest possible.
Detecting the potential sales force productivity inhibitors is consequently a strategic priority. In each case the causes that could prevent achieving an optimal level of productivity may be different. It is therefore necessary to make a specific study adapted to the characteristics of each sales force.
In any case it is likely that the results obtained in this research can be the combination of several of the following possibilities (among many others):
- Lack of motivation.
- Excessive dedication to non-selling tasks (administrative, post-sales service, etc) vs commercial tasks (prospecting, client presentations, negotiations and closing deals).
- Lack of ROI culture.
- Poor management process automation.
- Poor internal communications: goals are not clear enough, the strategy is unknown, lack of knowledge sharing culture, etc.
- Home office working.
- Inadequate talent management (lack of skills, competencies, etc for the assigned function, inadequate wage compesation, bonus not focused on results, etc).
- Poor time management.
- Excessive internal processes (too many levels of authorization, too many partners, etc.).
- Inadequate organization (geographic location, organizational location, work distribution, etc.).
- Poor leader delegation (everything has to go through him/her).
- Ineffective corporate policies and excess of bureaucracy.
- Hostile or bad work enviroment.
- No implementation (or lack of use) of new technological tools (smartphones, webinars, tablets, etc.)
- Lack of personal & professional life balance
As I mentioned before it is very useful to conduct a survey among the sales people to truly understand what make them be more or less productive and design a good action plan to improve the current results.