Rise Performance Group

Send Out an SOS for Sales Optimization Secrets

1.11.13Guest Post by Mike Kunkle

According to various sources, I keep hearing that the average lifespan of a senior sales leader these days is 18-24 months. I’m not sure about you, but when I entered the sales profession in 1984, I never thought I’d see the day when the career tenure of the top organizational sales leader would be surpassed by the lifespan of the average field mouse.

Contrast this to the length of time it takes to truly drive change in most organizations, and the scenario gets really interesting. Sure, I’ve seen incremental changes in sales results occur in a quarter or under six months. But I haven’t seen truly transformational results occur often in less than 9-12 months. Often, with the upfront analysis, solution development, and execution time, it’s 12-18 months until the big payoff. Gets pretty close to the average tenure, doesn’t it?

If you’re a sales leader, you know this pain all too well. If you don’t normally wear it, put on the sales leader’s hat for a second, and digest this. Then, layer in the daily activities of solving client problems, addressing internal issues, making board presentations, travel, data overwhelm, and 24/7/365 connectivity, which is only a partial list of challenges, and you can already feel the elephant sitting on your chest, can’t you? Our stock-price-driven focus on short-term results doesn’t make this any easier.

If you’re looking for a way to relieve some of that pressure and make headway, this post might help. I have to disclaim that I am not a fan of out-of-context sales advice, so only you will know what fits your specific world. While the best solutions are highly-customized, at least I can offer a framework to start from.

The big picture involves a lot of moving parts. It’s overwhelming if you are not familiar with all of it, but worth the effort to get it under your belt. True sales force transformation is a holistic approach that align the various levers (the things that drive organizational performance). Definitions vary, and agreeing on lexicon is one of the things I think we need to get better at in our field, but here’s how I think about the pieces/parts:


The major categories include…

  • Sales Force Effectiveness
  • Sales Enablement
  • Sales Force Strategy
  • Sales Operations
  • Sales Talent Management
  • Marketing Alignment

The alignment of all of these will allow you to optimize your sales force and “transform” results.

Others may see the sub-categories falling in different places. For example, I put training under Talent Management. Others think of it as part of “enablement.” I love a good debate, but the most important thing is that you consider all the moving parts, so I will stay focused on that for now and allow you to move them around in your head, where you think they fit best.

In part 2 of this series, I will share some of the most common levers that I’ve seen produce quick-hit results.

Mike Kunkle is a training and organization effectiveness leader with special expertise in sales force transformation. After his initial years on the frontline in sales and sales management, he’s spent the past 16 years as a corporate director or consultant, leading departments and projects with one purpose – improve sales results. And through sales training, organization effectiveness practices, leadership development, aligning performance levers and leading change efforts – he’s done just that. At one company, as a result of six projects, he and his team delivered an accretive $398MM in revenue, year-over-year.

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