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Using Benchmarks To Optimise Sales

Good sales management courses cover established means of improving existing structures and business such as Performance Comparison.

Are your salespeople achieving enough? Is the company geared towards optimising business? Are you using the right sales and presentation techniques? Are your competitors way ahead of you?

Benchmarks will help you answer these questions. They enable you to compare your performance with that of other companies.

In principle, a benchmark analysis can have two objectives:

1. You know that your sales could be better organised and structured and know of competitors who are considerably better. You are therefore looking for opportunities for improvement and would like to motivate your sales team through comparison with other companies.

2. To go in a new direction you need to be looking for new ideas and concepts to improve your sales and want,.

Choose the most suitable benchmark for your objectives:

Internal benchmarking is the comparison of your sales department with sales departments in other companies. It is naturally relatively easy to understand such data, but it only gives a very limited view point.

Competition orientated bench-marking seeks to make comparisons with direct competitors. With this, it can be very difficult to obtain corresponding information on different business areas.

Although functional bench-marking is best for finding new ideas and concepts, internal and competition orientated bench-marking is more suited to the development of detailed plans for improvement,.

Comparing the sales departments of businesses in other lines of industry is much more costly and difficult than the other two methods.

Every bench-marking project has four stages:

Deciding what the subject of the comparison should be. This depends on which aspect of your sales department or sales is to be analysed.

It is recommended to have a very narrow focus, as otherwise the information obtained will not be very meaningful. Your bench-marking project should therefore focus on either:

the sales department acquisition of contracts product development or the follow-up

You should not try to investigate all areas simultaneously! Concentrate on those areas of the process which use most resources.

Internal Analysis. Before considering other organisations, you must know exactly how the process to be analysed functions within your organisation. When considering this, identify possible weaknesses in your organisation! This is an important area that should always be considered and is a central theme to good management courses.

You could, for example consider asking your clients. Ascertaining general indicators such as the average time taken to process a sale, the average volume of sales in pounds in relation to the time taken to make a sale or the number of sales per order will give you vital information on weak points in your sales. In this example, you would commence the analysis with evaluations and specifications.

Choosing a suitable company for comparison. Who has the highest sales in your line of business, do you know? If you do, then you have already found a possible partner for bench-marking. This idea may sound ridiculous, but many competitors will regularly partner on certain programmes just to achieve their aims. Just consider the joint venture programmes in the automotive industry where major car manufacturers combine forces, market intelligence and research to co-produce a new vehicle. Many of these are arch rivals in their sector. Interesting partners for functional bench-marking would be your suppliers and clients. You will have less work at the analysis stage if your choice of bench-marking partner has been thoroughly thought through.

Analysis of your bench-marking partner. This is the most sensitive stage in the entire process. Your partner must now open up their doors to you, and you let them take a look at your organisation. At the start of this phase, you should present the objectives and especially the advantages of the bench-marking project once more.

Reduce your requests for information to truly important and standard measures such as turnover per salesperson, cost of sales as a percentage of turnover, number of out-house sales meetings per day, length of time it takes to process a sale, etc.

Even after the bench-marking process is complete, the search for new and better ways should be on-going as part of the continuous improvement process as encouraged on management courses, because your competition does not stand still.

About Author Richard Stone :

Richard Stone ( is a Director for Spearhead Training Limited that specialises in running management courses to improve business performance. Richard provides consultancy advice for numerous world leading companies. View more ways to motivate a sales force at => <a href="" target="_blank"></a>

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Article Added on Wednesday, September 15, 2010
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