Sales coverage is one of those phrases that many owners and managers worry and talk about when meeting with their salespeople. But what does sales coverage really mean? More importantly, are common printing industry sales coverage models effective for today’s printing environment?
What is Sales Coverage?
The way a company structures its sales process and resources to drive revenue is its “sales coverage model”. Printers have many different types of sales coverage models, depending on the type of company they are, their size, their customer base and also the types of products and services they offer. For instance, one company may use a combination of telemarketing, internet marketing and some outside direct salespeople while another may have a team of direct salespeople coupled with an ecommerce portal.
Four key elements of evaluating your Sales Coverage Model
Below are four areas that are common issues within printing company sales coverage models.
1. Sales Territory with No Boundaries
There is still a persistent and stubborn practice in our industry to allow printing salespeople to determine where and whom they call on. They gain new customers wherever they can find them. This strategy most often fails and causes frustration for both the salesperson and the sales manager.
Management, not salespeople, are best able to determine the type of accounts and/or markets that best sync to the company’s products and services. Management picks the targets and salespeople call on them. Effective targeting of likely suspects based on “best fit”, is the most efficient and productive use of valuable sales and marketing resources.
2. Too Few Hands on Deck
Most sales territories we find are much too large to be effectively managed by the salesperson. In today’s market, everyone within the printing company must be part of the selling process. All employees must feel accountable to reel in new business, not just the direct salesperson or CSR.
Though there will always be tension and battles between sales and the production team, complex and large opportunities require a team effort to be successful.
That means everyone connected with the workflow supporting a potential customer participates in some way in sales calls, presentations, customer problem resolution, and proposals. Regular customer contact and problem solving by management, sales and operations is a requirement.
3. No Credit for Leads
Perhaps the biggest disconnect on an effective sales coverage model that we hear is the issue of lead generation. Too often managers and owners resent crediting direct salespeople for business that result from leads. A common feeling among owners is that the salespeople should be generating their own leads and companies should not have to pay commissions on this business.
New models are evolving where companies are segmenting sales efforts. The thinking is that leads are generated by inside sales telemarketing reps, digital and social media and digital marketing efforts. Higher paid direct salespeople spend their time qualifying and driving these opportunities through the pipeline to a sale.
If there is a concern about the amount of leads that are being generated by salespeople, the issue most often lies with marketing, sales process or compensation and not where or how the lead was generated.
4. Marketing versus Sales
In the past, only large companies tended to have strong links between marketing and sales. This is the approach where marketing drives awareness and consideration into the hands of direct sales people. With the transformation of the internet, all companies must consider carefully how marketing is integrated into sales and how this affects sales coverage.
A fully developed and updated marketing plan is the surest way to ensure that marketing and sales are working well together. Targeting accounts and markets, selling the right products and services and sharing common objectives are just a few areas that should be examined and aligned for success.
To determine if a company has the right sales coverage model, managers and owners should consider the following:
- Which accounts and markets are the most lucrative based on the products and services of the company?
- How will marketing and sales work together more closely to generate business?
- What types and amounts of salespeople are required to cover the identified opportunities and at what cost? Should the company use inside sales, direct sales, team selling, sales specialists, ecommerce or a combination of all
- Does the compensation plan reflect where leads are generated and how much effort is required by the salesperson to turn leads into prospects and then customers?
As with most industries, technology has driven fundamental changes to the selling process within the printing industry. We find most print providers stay with what has worked for them in the past. Old habits die hard. It is never too late to reconsider your company’s sales coverage model.
Joe Rickard is the founder of Intellective Solutions. Intellective Solutions (www.intellectives.com) is a consulting and training company. They work with printing and technology organizations to improve their sales, marketing and operational effectiveness. Joe can be reached at 845 753 6156. Follow him on Twitter @joerickardIS. This article was published at PrintingNews.com