mhLast week I attended the executive briefing from Miller Heiman which just released its Sales Best Practices Study for 2009. We covered the 2008 Sales Best Practices Study here. This year 3,900+ sales professionals participated in the research.

Some highlights from 2009:

“Successful sales organizations do not do one or two things well; they maintain a high level of performance across all of the selling and sales management activities required to support the sales process.” These include

  1. Opportunity Creation
  2. Opportunity Management
  3. Relationship Management
  4. People and Organization
  5. Support and Enablement
  6. Management Execution

Nearly a third of organizations think they have only a 50% chance of hitting their Q1&Q2 targets this year, and another 50% felt confident with concerns. 80% of World Class organizations expected growth this year and 65% of non-world class organizations. Given current economic climate, I would say that’s a fairly bullish crowd.

World Class organizations (7% of respondents qualify) were able to achieve a higher level of growth vs peers across these metrics:

  • Average account billing
  • Sales force quota attainment
  • Number of qualified opportunities/leads
  • Customer retention
  • Forecast accuracy

Characteristics of World class organizations that make them different than others:

  • high degree of alignment between sales marketing and customer needs (trending up for the last 3 yrs)
  • standardized processes for qualifying and selling
  • formal strategy for getting concessions in return for price reductions
  • clear understanding of client issues prior to offering proposals
  • cross department collaboration to manage strategic accounts
  • joint long-term planning with key customer,
  • knowledge of why top performers are successful and structured programs to share that insight across the team
  • sales metrics are aligned with business objectives,
  • CRM systems geared to greatly improve effectiveness of the sales organization
  • organization is highly structured to learn and adapt.

One interesting factoid as it relates to sales performance – was that top performers placed equal emphasis on the importance of discipline/planning as ability to access and influence senior execs, while average performers placed higher emphasis on senior exec access. There is a lot to be said for the science of sales even at the individual level.

Click here to access the full 2009 Miller Heiman Sales Best Practices Study.


Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.

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