Sales Force Insights

Can Your Sales Team Actually Achieve Their Stretch Goals?

Posted by Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer on Wed, Jul 13, 2016


Sales leaders have a deep-seated belief in using stretch goals to challenge a sales force. Stretch goals are correctly credited with guiding effort, promoting innovative thinking, energizing salespeople, and boosting persistence. Many successful companies have lived the virtuous cycle: Sales leaders set a stretch goal, the sales force surpasses it, and sales force morale and confidence gets a boost. But we’ve also seen, with increasing frequency in the last decade, companies set stretch goals that are impossible to achieve. What masquerades as a stretch goal is really wishful thinking or misguided sales goal padding.

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Topics: ZS Associates, Incentive compensation, ZS, Andy Zoltners, Prabha Sinha, Sally Lorimer, sales leadership, stretch goals

Great Sales People Are Born, But Great Sales Forces Are Made

Posted by Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer on Thu, May 26, 2016

In sales, where charisma and extroversion can be advantages, some people attribute success more to inborn personality traits than to skills that can be coached or taught. Yet the fact that companies in the U.S. alone spend more than $20 billion annually (by conservative estimates) to train salespeople on products, selling skills, and territory management, demonstrates the widespread belief that you can help “make” salespeople great.

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Topics: ZS Associates, ZS, sales management, Andy Zoltners, Prabha Sinha, Sally Lorimer, managing people, sales leadership

Despite Dire Predictions, Salespeople Aren’t Going Away

Posted by Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer on Mon, Apr 04, 2016

One hundred years ago, an article in the New York Times asked a provocative question: “Are salesmen needless?” In the article, a marketing expert explains why societal shifts would render the door-to-door salesman obsolete. “Advertising is producing better results than the old method of personal solicitation,” the article reported. “Things were different once upon a time before the railroads turned farms into cities… The traveling [sales]man is a middleman and the evolution of business is gradually eliminating the middle man.”

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Topics: ZS Associates, ZS, sales management, Andy Zoltners, Prabha Sinha, Sally Lorimer, sales profession

Help Your Salespeople Spend Time on the Right Things

Posted by Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer on Mon, Feb 29, 2016

Sales executives typically have two levers to try to increase sales: they can increase the quantity of sales effort by adding salespeople, or they can improve the quality of sales effort by investing in coaching and training.

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Topics: ZS Associates, ZS, sales management, Andy Zoltners, Prabha Sinha, Sally Lorimer, managing people

How More Accessible Information Is Forcing B2B Sales to Adapt

Posted by Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer on Fri, Feb 26, 2016

Over the past 20 years, information technology and digital channels have changed the way consumers shop for products ranging from cars to homes to electronics. Those forces are dramatically changing the way B2B companies and their customers approach buying and selling, too.

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Topics: ZS Associates, ZS, sales management, Andy Zoltners, Prabha Sinha, Sally Lorimer

How to Spot Hidden Opportunities for Sales Growth

Posted by Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer on Mon, Dec 14, 2015

In the hunt for sales growth, profit growth, or share growth from the sales force, every sales leader, whether new or seasoned, whether from a growth-stage or a mature-stage company, faces the same question. Where will the growth come from?

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Topics: big data, ZS Associates, ZS, Andy Zoltners, Prabha Sinha, Sally Lorimer, Analytics

There’s No One System for Paying Your Global Sales Force

Posted by Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer on Fri, Dec 04, 2015

One of the big challenges for the people leading global sales organizations is figuring out the right way to set pay for salespeople who work in vastly different countries and markets.

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Topics: sales compensation, ZS Associates, ZS, Andy Zoltners, Prabha Sinha, Sally Lorimer

Why Sales Teams Should Reexamine Territory Design

Posted by Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer on Fri, Aug 14, 2015

Companies are using more analytics to enable better sales force decisions, yet one area that is still too frequently undervalued is sales territory design, or the way in which the responsibility for accounts is assigned to salespeople or sales teams.

The distribution of customer workload and opportunity across the sales force has a direct impact on salespeople’s ability to meet customer needs, realize opportunities, and achieve sales goals. Our research shows that optimizing territory design can increase sales by 2 to 7%, without any change in total resources or sales strategy.

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Topics: ZS Associates, sales force effectiveness, territory design, ZS, sales management, Andy Zoltners, Prabha Sinha, Sally Lorimer, sales force structure and organization

When Sales Incentives Should Be Based on Profit, Not Revenue

Posted by Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer on Fri, Jun 12, 2015

Most sales forces link some portion of salespeople’s pay to sales metrics. For example, they pay a commission on the revenues salespeople generate or a bonus for achieving a territory sales quota. This proven “pay for performance” approach motivates salespeople to work hard and drive sales results.

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Topics: incentives, sales compensation, ZS Associates, ZS, Andy Zoltners, Prabha Sinha, Sally Lorimer

The Technology Trends That Matter to Sales Teams

Posted by Andris A. Zoltners, PK Sinha, and Sally E. Lorimer on Fri, May 15, 2015

A convergence of mobile, analytics, context-rich systems, and the cloud, together with an explosion of information, is transforming sales, and enabling buyers and salespeople to engage with each other in more effective and efficient ways. Recently, information technology research and advisory company Gartner compiled a list of top ten strategic technology trends. At least five of these trends have significant implications for sales forces, including:

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Topics: ZS Associates, ZS, sales management, Andy Zoltners, Prabha Sinha, Sally Lorimer, sales technology, sales process

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