Sales Leadership: Winning in a Complex Market


The B2B buying process is increasingly complex, and the bio/pharmaceutical industry is hardly exempt. Pressure for tighter margins, ratcheting competition, and a growing number of buying channels mean that winning sales requires companies to strategically address the sales process, starting with how and where leads are sourced, and following through to what can be done differently to sell more effectively.

A recent entry in the Harvard Business Review Blog discusses an analysis of sales leaders on how to overcome complex sales challenges to achieve above-market growth. They looked at 73 B2B technology companies, and found that, “across sectors, the top 25% of companies achieve[d] more than twice as much return on sales investment compared to the bottom 25%.”

Who wouldn’t want to know how to do that: “I’ll have what she’s having.” Here’s the recipe the authors suggest – and note that the investments referred to all have the bottom-line impact of lowering the cost of doing sales:

1. Invest up-front in providing sales tools and training. This increases sales efficiency, thereby lowering the cost of sales. According to the blog, “The best [sales leaders] keep their costs lower than their peers… 72% of companies in the top quartile of sales ROI have the lowest sales costs.”

2. Invest in sales support systems that free sales people to sell. Rather than being tasked with things that can be automated or delegated, there’s good evidence that salespeople are far more successful when they’re highly focused on selling, without low-value distractions.

3. Understand which segments and channels are producing the best results. Identifying the source of your best sales performance may mean shifting how you measure sales efficiency – and how you allocate sales resources. Having this insight can help you know when and how to use inside sales reps vs. key account reps vs. territory reps: more investments that lower sales costs.

As the authors note, the sales team is the revenue-driving arm of an organization, and actively synchronizing sales activity with ROI opportunities is essential in beating the market. Click here to read the blog posting.