Harness Sales Drivers to Increase Sales
Kevin B. Long, Regional Vice President, Sales, SBC
Global Services, Inc. (a subsidiary of the Fortune
50 ranked, SBC Communications, Inc.)
Ravi Kathuria, President, Cohegic Corporation
Recognizing the importance of sales-drivers helps
companies to consistently increase sales and improve
performance across the entire sales-force.
Considering sales as purely a numbers game often
leads to brute-force approaches that are less
effective. Alternately, analyzing sales drivers and
systematically maximizing their impact results in
more sales with less effort.
A sales driver is a factor that influences aspects
such as the probability of deal-closure, deal
cycle-time, deal profit-margin and the post-sale
risk of failure. Sales drivers are attributes
related to the vendor company, product/service,
salesperson, prospect company, market segmentation,
the market/economic conditions, etc. Commonplace
examples of sales drivers are a company's
reputation, notable product features, salesperson
selling skills and a favorable economy.
While it is easy to identify a large number of
sales-drivers, the challenge lies in identifying the
top one to five sales-drivers. Top drivers either
create a compelling case for the purchase and/or
overcome a strong hurdle. While the commonplace
sales drivers are necessary for the deal to go
through, they are not sufficient. It is only the top
drivers that have the power to take the deal to
The objective is to systematically identify, analyze
and relentlessly exploit top drivers, and
continuously update what comprises the list of top
drivers. The top sales drivers may change
significantly based on the company, the product, the
market-segment and even vary based on each sales
opportunity. The consistent identification of top
drivers overlooked by the competition is a key to
success in the marketplace.
Consider three examples of top-drivers for complex
sales (which require the client to make significant
changes in their organization).
1. A compelling business event: If the
prospect is not faced with a compelling business
event that demands some strong action, the
likelihood of closing the deal will be low
regardless of the salesperson's selling skills, the
product features and even a perceived interest by
the prospect. By identifying, understanding and
addressing the compelling business event, a
salesperson can significantly increase the
probability of closing the deal.
2. An executive-level internal champion:
Deals involving significant change fail unless the
salesperson is able to cultivate an executive-level
internal champion in the client organization.
Organizations need to buy-into change at various
points and levels. As an outsider, a salesperson is
ill-equipped to "work the organization" and no
amount of feature selling or pricing discounts can
drive such a deal to closure.
3. Risk elimination: Change is risky and a
prospective buyer's foremost concern is the risk of
failure. It may take time and a lot of work for the
client to realize value from instituting change,
while the risk introduced is often immediate. The
prospect's instinct is to maintain status quo.
Therefore, eliminating risk is a significant driver
in closing the deal.
Identifying the top sales drivers gives each
salesperson specific direction on what is absolutely
necessary to close the deal. It ensures that their
efforts are focused and aligned with the sales
strategy. For the sales team to fully internalize
the concept of sales drivers, each deal/opportunity
in the sales pipeline must be closely and
continuously monitored to determine whether or not
it is harnessing the power of the top drivers.
Measuring the number of opportunities that are
utilizing the specific top drivers and the success
rate of each opportunity relative to the drivers
employed is necessary to engage the sales team.
Collecting and measuring this data helps validate or
invalidate the hypothesis of what comprises the list
of top drivers and leads to active evolution of
top-drivers. Analyzing and exploiting sales-drivers
is a proven way to increase sales productivity.