Business Haiku: McKinsey’s “Using your sales force to jumpstart growth”

The following is our weekly Business Haiku adapted from McKiney’s article on “Using your sales force to jumpstart growth” followed by our brief synopsis and commentary.

A sales force for growth

Represents drive and foresight

with market knowledge


One of the most significant qualities a thriving business can uphold is a keen ability to acknowledge and develop value-adding resources from channels already existing within the company. Your sales force is a prime, potential candidate for just such an adaptation. It is the frontline group best placed to gain an intimate understanding of existing customers, to observe the forces at work in an industry, and to identify potential new business.” McKinsey’s article on this topic breaks down the processes involved in generating this kind of value into four coherent steps. (quotes italicized)


Look Over the Horizon:

New technologies tend to sustain two primary characteristics: they’re sudden and they’re disruptive. Simply put, there is no way to avoid the obvious challenges to industry incumbents that new technologies create, so the only option is to expect, embrace, and employ.


The sales force provides insights into the technology initiatives of the company’s customers while continually pressing them for feedback about its shortcomings and the efforts of competitors. The ultimate goal is to position the company as a supplier that’s ahead of the curve and to enjoy superior sales growth while competitors scramble to catch up.

Hunt and Farm:

It’s easy for organizations to fall into the habit of seeking sales growth only through existing customers. Use your sales force to take advantage of “downtime” by staking out future opportunity. Even though the sales force is typically best placed to find and approach potential clients, individual reps may shun the uncomfortable task of cold-calling in favor of selling to customers they know well. Yet there’s only so much each customer can buy, so finding new business is critical for growth.

Motivate with More Money:

For years, the sales force compensation model has remained the same. A salary provides security and stability while bonuses and commissions offer incentives to perform, but a financial services company recently found that, while carrots and sticks did influence the sales performance of its financial advisers and sales managers, the results were short-lived. In order to continue incentives and bring forth passions necessary to continue efficiency, the employee needs to find a deeper motivation. The most successful advisers often spoke passionately about the sense of fulfillment that came from helping clients realize their dreams. This concept of creating, establishing, and meeting a goal that is “more than work” produces a more long term incentive than cash ever could.

Boost Sales without Slashing Prices:

Companies experiencing flat or declining sales often elect to cut prices to spur demand. Yet sometimes, averages lie: a decline across a market doesn’t mean that all market segments are weakening. The sales force is the perfect team to discover the depth of each marketing segment individually. They are capable of receiving valuable information from each territory and this granular view of each sales territory can lead to new sales approaches. In higher-growth markets with limited competition, sales reps can aggressively seek new business and raise prices where possible. In declining markets with stiffer competition, reps can be authorized to cut prices to prevent customers from defecting.


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