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Change Challenges to Opportunities in the New Year

18 Dec, 2013 By: Rob Gilbert, Sr, Industry Consultant  

As each of us face a new year, so too, do we face new opportunities – despite, yes, challenges in our regions, our dealerships, our territories, and often in our own offices. Economic conditions are forming business decisions while
cutting edge technology advances change the landscape that we operate in, continually shifting the ground beneath our feet. Yet in a time when it’s becoming increasingly difficult to understand and capitalize on the ever changing
marketplace, there are things that we can do as managers or as sales reps, as specialists or administrators, and as business owners that will position us to be productive and successful in 2014. The saving grace I see can be found in
identifying our “High Payoff Activities,” and in creating – and following - a definitive Action Plan around those things that will ensure a successful outcome.

What are High Payoff Activities? High Payoff Activities are those tasks that must happen daily, weekly, monthly, or over a sustained period of time that lead to the furthering of whatever business or territory plan we have put in to place. They will vary from position to position, and market to market. The High Payoff Activities that are essential to a CFO are very different from those that are important for a territory sales rep. There may also be some overlap depending on the industry and sales philosophy of the organization. While the most successful companies understand how to create what I will call a High Payoff Activity Workflow (HPAW) from the top down, each business unit can, and many times subconsciously or partially does, identify the key elements that provide a roadmap for success for their company.

How do I get started identifying my High Payoff Activities? Let’s focus on sales managers and salespeople as an example of how to begin to define this process. At this time of year, many companies are preparing budgets. Others are also creating incentive trips for over performance and overachievement of quotas and business goals. Depending on the makeup of your dealership, and whether you are hardware-centric, service-focused, or a true solutions provider, you can begin to define the activities that will drive you to succeed based on your business plan, and the plans of your vendors.

Some of the most successful companies are trending toward comprehensive seminars and high level appointments that allow them the time and opportunity to understand and analyze a prospect’s business, and partner with them to solve a problem, fill a need, increase productivity, or improve workflow. Following that model, here are some examples of key activities that drive success for a few different sales professional roles:

Sales Consultants

As their major responsibilities are to generate profitability, the high
payoff activities for these folks would include:

  • Call activity – defined many ways, but as part of a successful
    territory plan would involve duties like: numbers of calls to appointments,
    to assessments to proposals & closes based on opportunity and sales skills.
  • Current account reviews – availing current customers of the full
    breadth of your company’s offerings, and creating incremental revenue.
  • C-level appointments – securing meetings with decision makers in
    properly profiled accounts.
  • Continuing education – especially today, understanding software,
    solutions, print management strategies, etc., and how to discuss relative
    value - very important.
  • Pipeline management – hand-in-hand with call activity, creating
    enough opportunity and moving it continually through a process to closure.

Print Management Specialists

Again, high profit generators for any organization, they have specific areas
of focus such as:

  • C-level appointments with sales reps – to present value of print
    management philosophy.
  • Assessments – performing analysis of prospect network
  • Data mining – understanding data collected and how to optimize a
    given situation.
  • Mapping / proposing – creating optimal floor plans / current
    proposed solutions.
  • Implementation – successful setup and monitoring of a delivered
    print management solution.

Sales Managers

Their major role is team quota attainment relative to branch budget or business plan and involves:

  • Pipeline management – proper alignment of team activities & goals
    through a concise process
  • Forecasting – delivering accurate numbers toward company goals
  • Team training – continued education and coaching
  • High Payoff Activity Identification – understanding what activities the sales rep must be engaged in on a daily basis in order to be successful
  • C-level contacts – Identification and how to penetrate
  • Current account reviews – assist reps in delivering total value
  • Sales rep reviews and goal planning – continued awareness of rep goals
    and performance relative to budgets and quotas, and assists in continuing to
    align reps’ high yield activities so that they perform successfully over a long period of time.  This includes a detailed understanding of what is important to the sales rep and how to help them attain their goals within the parameters of the rep’s own high payoff activities at their level.  Make sure the goals are specific, hat they are able to be measured, help make them achievable through internal programs, gauge whether they are realistic, and ensure that timelines are established for success.  (SMART)

Business Owners

They are responsible for the overall success or failure of a company.  As such, their activities are:

  • Articulating vision and mission to the company – keeping employees pointed toward the ultimate mission of the company
  • Managing consolidated budgets – gauging success measures by branch or division and making adjustments through senior management team for optimum results
  • Managing vendor relations – helping to ensure proper communication of company goals externally
  • Oversight of departmental functions – through senior management team, ensuring success in each core business area

Each of these roles has specific areas of focus for optimal success. Each also has some degree of crossover into another business role within an organization. This is good for a company in that it allows multiple roles to align with standard activities for the common end goal.

Considerations – In many companies there are different rules for commissions, and people are compensated in various ways. It is important to understand how compensation plans inter-relate to each other and if there are processes that
are counter-intuitive to each other. If not, you will run the risk of helping to identify a high yield activity for one sales person that might not mesh at all with another part of your business model. A proper course of action would be to
understand how the disparate business units operate toward success, and find common ground upon which to build your activity sets.

For all of us, it is easy to become distracted with the everyday issues and concerns that can spin us out of control in our profit-driven quest for success in the marketplace today. When we don’t possess a proper roadmap that guides us
around those landmines, it is very easy to spend inordinate amounts of time on low return activities that won’t help us achieve our set goals. Most importantly, once you create the roadmap, follow up. Don’t get detoured. That usually leads to wasted time and extra unplanned expenses. By providing high return activities to key personnel, you will align your business process, keep the right marching orders in front of the right people at the right time, and create the most optimal opportunities for each member of your team, all leading towards achieving company success this year. Now that’s the ultimate payoff!

Rob Gilbert, Sr. has 25 years experience in the office automation industry including MPS program setup and implementation, sales & management training & consulting, and marketing and business development strategies. Directly contact him at: Rob Gilbert (http://rgilbertsr@gmail.com)

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