Sales Force Effectiveness
Sales Force Effectiveness

Sales Force Effectiveness

Sales leaders are painfully aware of the fact that customer buying behavior has changed more in the past 10 years than it did in the previous 30.

Today’s customers have access to a vast array of information – from suppliers, purchasing consultants, and social networks – which has enabled them to learn on their own. They typically complete more than 50% and, in some cases, nearly 75% of their purchase journey before they engage a sales person.

Customers are also far more risk averse. As technology enables suppliers to offer more complex, expensive and risky solutions, customers are responding by bringing more and more stakeholders to the table to weigh in on the purchase decision—leading to elongated consensus-building processes that, often, result in no decision for the seller.

These trends have had a significant impact on sellers. While high performers learn to adapt to this increased complexity, other members of the sales team tend to fall further and further behind. Less than 50% of Chief Sales Officers questioned in a recent Korn Ferry Hay Group survey believed that their sales teams were effectively equipped to sell in today’s market, with 68% saying that sales roles had become more complex.

Today, 50-75% of a purchase journey is made before engaging a sales person.

Yet, a typical purchase journey now involves 6.8 unique stakeholders.

And less than 50% of CSOs think they have the right talent to close deals.


The result of all this has been a historic decline in global sales productivity. Only 53% of sales reps hit their quota in 2016, down from 57% just one year before. And it’s not just productivity that is suffering. As quotas are missed and the organization fails to make the right investments in sales force effectiveness, engagement and discretionary effort begin to slide, further compounding the productivity problem and leading to further erosion of top performers, managers and leaders.


    Unsurprisingly, many sales leaders have responded to increased sales challenges by attempting to transform the way their organizations go to market and engage customers. Sales transformation, however, is easier said than done, and the failure rates are exceedingly high. In our experience, a successful transformation can only be achieved if sales leaders ensure all the following elements are in place:

    • Their go-to-market strategy and coverage model aligns to the company’s growth strategy.
    • The organization has the right sellers, managers, and leaders in the right roles, and all of them have the tools, skills and mindset they need to be effective.
    • Both the organizational climate and the pay and rewards system incentivize and motivate the right behaviors.

    The high failure rate of sales transformations means it is essential that sales leaders get advice and support from a partner who knows exactly how to deliver on these elements with experience in knowing what works, what doesn’t – and who can help them think several steps ahead at all times.

    At Korn Ferry Hay Group, we are experienced at guiding organizations through large-scale sales transformations, and at enabling them to deliver sustained, profitable growth through effective sales execution.

    Effective sales execution is almost entirely dependent on people. Korn Ferry Hay Group is the only sales force effectiveness consultancy that is 100% people-focused so we are uniquely positioned to provide our clients with the support they need.

    Some of the specific areas we focus on when helping our clients accelerate sales performance include:


    When it comes to sales force effectiveness, we offer our clients the expert support they need to deliver more predictable, sustainable and profitable growth along with increased levels of sales productivity, seller engagement and customer loyalty.

    • If a company is looking to shift from selling products to selling solutions, they can expect to see bigger deals being sold at higher margins.
    • If a company is looking to shift to an enterprise selling approach, they can expect to see higher cross-sell rates and increased share of wallet with customers.
    • If a company is looking to shift to a more insight-led approach, they can expect to see more profitable wins as a smaller proportion of deals are sold through RFP.

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Call 800-633-4410 to speak to a Korn Ferry representative.