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Andy Kach
Principal
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Brian Chapman
Principal
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SFE: If You Build It, Effectiveness Will Come ... How to Make Sure

Posted by Matt Scheitlin on October 20, 2015



iStock_000002837160_SmallSales force effectiveness (SFE). Sales force efficiency (SFE). Sales force excellence (SFE). Customer excellence (CE). Commercial excellence (CE). Etc.

Whatever we call it, a recent trend in the medical industry has been a shift in focus from expansion to efficiency. No longer can we afford to employ the philosophy of “growth through resourcing.” Instead, the focus is now on driving efficiency and effectiveness in the commercial teams that already exist within an organization. This is seen most starkly in sales organizations. With spend on sales teams totaling up to 10% to 30% of commercial costs, it only makes sense that we ask, can the sales organization do more without adding head count?

And the answer, in many situations, is a resounding yes!

In recent years, many of my clients have begun to build centralized organizations to own SFE globally. These organizations typically have the mandate to identify, create and scale sales force best practices from all over the world to improve the local teams’ efficiency and effectiveness. And they are seeing that the impact can be significant—both on revenue and margin. To prove that fact, ZS recently ran a study to quantify the impact of SFE initiatives and the results were staggering.

But beyond the scale of the impact, none of this is likely news or controversial. The question isn’t about SFE value, instead, it’s about deriving that value. As in most things, impact is only as good as its implementation.

So let’s pretend you’ve just been given the mandate to build a centralized SFE team. What do you do? How can you drive global (regional, national, etc.) revenue and margin impact while also ensuring that your value is recognized? Because, at the most base level, you want to keep your job next year.

From my experience, there are six foundational steps that the best SFE leads have taken to ensure that their impact is maximized:

  1. Priority Setting: Defining the specific SFE needs of your organization is the first step to ensure that your organization is focused on the critical SFE enablers.
    • Not every organization has the same needs or priorities when it comes to SFE. Understanding where your organization is today compared to the ideal helps set a standard baseline for what you must prioritize. An SFE diagnostic is a great starting point to understand this baseline, and we at ZS have a handy tool we recommend you use.
  2. Remit Creation: Articulating a clear program plan that captures the quick-win priorities to “earn your keep” and the longer term lasting-impact enablers ensures early buy-in, support and understanding from the broader stakeholder groups.
  3. Branding Definition: Creating a visible brand (linked to your outlined remit) allows you to enhance your organizational awareness and build output or program consistency.
  4. Pilot Selection: Picking pilot situations where you can test your SFE enablers is critical for future scalability and local buy-in, however, ensure you select pilot areas where you can assure yourself of strong local engagement (and success) and high organizational visibility.
  5. Scalable Enablers: Building SFE enablers (frameworks, trainings, playbooks) that can be quickly and consistently deployed across countries results in cost efficiencies, expedited implementation and facilitated stakeholder management.
  6. Tracking and Communication: Developing and tracking KPIs early on allows you to communicate SFE enabler success to generate buy-in for additional initiatives as well as raise awareness of the overall impact to other stakeholders in the organization, up to and including the board level.

No matter the final name and organizational scope, SFE can have a significant impact on the effectiveness of our sales organizations. Of that there is no question. Making sure that impact happens is your job.

Topics: sales force effectiveness, SFE, medical devices, Matt Scheitlin, medtech, sales force efficiency, sales force excellence, customer excellence

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AUTHORS
Brian_Chapman_thumbnail
Brian Chapman
Principal,
ZS Associates
Tobi_Laczkowski_thumbnail
Tobi Laczkowski
Principal,
ZS Associates
Will_Randall_thumbnail
Will Randall
Manager,
ZS Associates
Matt-Scheitlin-London_thumbnail
Matt Scheitlin
Associate Principal,
ZS Associates
Andy-kach_thumbnail
Andy Kach
Associate Principal,
ZS Associates
Bhargav_Mantha_thumbnail
Bhargav Mantha
Associate Principal,
ZS Associates
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