ACT! Training for Sales and Tech Investments

Sep 16, 2009 | General

Let’s take a look at two scenarios.   In our first scenario, in walks your plant manager and she informs you that your main press  just broke down and it needs $15,000 in immediate repairs to meet the demand for existing orders and keep shipping product.  What do you do?  Well, if filling those orders is critical to your business success, you’re going to get the press fixed, ASAP.  It’s a no brainer.

Now in the second scenario, in walks your sales manager.  He’s been looking for ways to increase sales and has determined that implementing a custom Act! CRM system, at a cost of $15,000, is the way to go.  The Act! By Sage contact manangement system will replace the existing paper and Excel spread sheet system and the Act! training for the sales team, tailored to implement your specific sales processes, will provide a payback in just a few months based on his research.  What is your decision?

Well, based upon the results of the CSO Insights (a leading reporter of sales metrics and trends) 2009 Sales Performance Optimization Report (, most companies today believe they would do better in this economy by cutting costs rather than improving sales effectiveness.  I guess the sales manager will hear a message of no to the Act! CRM solution, and yes, let’s cut sales training and sales support staff while we are at it. Heck, we’ve got to pay for the repairs to our delivery truck!

The CSO Insights report found that the percentage of sales reps failing to hit their sales quota is down – down from already downwardly adjusted numbers… so even lower expectations aren’t being met.  On the plus side, the report revealed that the top 20 percent of salespeople are generating 61.5 percent of the revenue.  This suggests that better training in best practices might improve overall performance for the other 80 percent of the sales reps.  The report also points out that for 70 percent of the firms surveyed, their new salespeople take at least seven months to ramp up, suggesting that better training and technology could make new reps more productive faster.

Additionally, the report makes the case that investing in improved sales effectiveness needs to be a top priority this year:  “Success in2009 will be achieved by making more sales calls.  The real objective is going to be how to make great calls: motivating stakeholders to meet with you; creating a sense of urgency that moves evaluating your solutions to the top of their priority list; differentiating yourself from the competition; selling value; and creating a compelling business case to get the project approved now. “

To accomplish those goals, salespeople must be more effective than they were in prior years.  Continuing to only cut costs will see revenues and margins continue to fall.  The CSO report points out that “2009 needs to be about investing your way to sales effectiveness” by looking elsewhere in the organization for ways to make budget cuts.

OK, back to our scenarios.  There is an important message here. It might be a good idea to remember that sales come before production.  If sales and marketing aren’t closing the deals, there will be no orders to produce.  Are your sales and marketing systems as good as they can be?  Do you have disjointed islands of sales data throughout your organization? Do you expect your sales reps to do better this year with last year’s tools?  How’s that working for you?