Organizing Sales Machines Capable of Repeatable Success
Despite the reluctance of some executives to hire and train more salespeople, growth for language service providers is closely tied to developing a high performing sales function.
Using responses from CSA Research’s 2017 Global Market Study, we tracked the percentage of LSPs that reported a revenue increase over the previous year and compared it to the level of maturity of providers. About two-thirds of those with a baseline maturity of Stage 0 through 3 on the LSP Metrix model reported an increase. Only Stage 4 companies unanimously reported revenue increases. This isn’t surprising as these more evolved companies have become sales machines capable of repeatable sales success and of controlling their destiny. Stay tuned for additional, similar datapoints in our soon-to-be-published data highlights series based on the LSP Metrix model.
We also analyzed the number of dedicated salespeople that LSPs reported employing. Just above a quarter of respondents do not have any. Results vary based on level of business and operational maturity, geography, years in business, revenue, employees, and number of offices. However, on average, we found 4.45 employees in the business development role.
The moment an LSP brings in a second salesperson, questions about sales territories are bound to occur. Business developers who see their territory split to accommodate a new recruit may feel cheated. As a result, executives have to carefully plan their strategy to organize their sales team.
Fully 17% of LSPs in our sample have not implemented sales territories, thus creating a free for-all situation. The rest distribute opportunities around six common methods (see figure). Dividing accounts by geography and industry – or often a combination of both – were the most frequent scenarios.
Each territory division option has its advantages and disadvantages. As you formalize your territory division, consider the following approaches:
- Choose a baseline method. Whatever you select, it should be closely linked to your organizational model. For example, if you divide territories by regions, you will probably favor geographically dispersed teams.
- Combine elements to refine territories. If you systematically conducted market segmentation, you likely developed tiered lists of leads that match criteria for your hot prospects. Align your territories to the market segments you are pursuing. For example, within life sciences, you may decide that you will target only pharmaceutical manufacturers with more than US$100 million in revenue that are based in Switzerland.
- Assess the degree of potential overlap. Non-existent or vague boundaries can lead to multiple salespeople trying to sell into the same account. No matter how you segment the market, at some point you will have difficult discussions about matrix and global account management, priorities, and commission splits.
Disputes are common among salespeople. For example, a large multinational company with multiple divisions across verticals may purchase from several locations across the globe or have regional headquarters. Develop a clear and fair system, where lead ownership is documented in your customer relationship management (CRM) solution. Document the rules in your playbook and communicate them to salespeople.
The sooner you implement a formal sales approach, the sooner you get to control your growth. Leverage the 12-modules of the CSA Research Sales Cookbook to help you set up the structure necessary to succeed without the painful trials and errors that LSPs often experience.
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