Best Practice used as a development tool is one of the most powerful ways to improve performance. In this article we give an overview that covers how to go about embedding its use into your sales organisation.
- Management must understand its significance and define their terms. Our working definition of best practice is: The conscious understanding of what works, applied constantly in all that we do. WHAT WORKS drives Best Practice. There has to real belief that every part of the sales process can be modelled against an exemplar standard. Its this standard that is used as a benchmark to develop people against.
- Next, is to make sure your sales culture will support its adoption. For Best Practice thinking to gain any kind of traction people have to own their personal performance. If management spend all their time trying to get salespeople to do what they otherwise wouldn’t do, (management imposed activity targets is the obvious symptom of low ownership) then the engagement of Best Practice will not happen.
- A coaching rather than ‘sink or swim’ development process is required. Effective Best Practice development is highly iterative, needing a constant, candid, two-way dialogue between coach and coachee.
- The effective collection, collation and dissemination of meaningful data. Without objectively underpinning the Best Practice standard with supporting, current data, the conversations are too vague and subjective.
- Ownership of the standards must be with the field, not at the centre. HR or Sales management should never be in charge of the Best Practice ‘bible’. If they are, it quickly becomes a sterile, bureaucratic nightmare. We believe most sales organisation’s ‘selling’ can be captured in well under 20 separately indentified processes. Each of these should be owned by the person who operates to the Best Practice standard – they become the Best Practice owner. It is their responsibility to codify what they do (to a standard format) and then share it with others. When someone else performs that process (say an account review) better than the standard, the Best Practice gets reset and ownership passes to that salesperson.
- Reward and recognition tools should be used to differentiate sales people who are owners of best practice from those who are not.
- Managers facilitate the sharing of the Best Practice and vigorously coach to the standard.
We believe when Best Practice is used effectively its one of the most effective sales performance enhancing tools available.