Notes from Sten Tamkivi Blog on Building and Managing Effective Sales Organizations

The past days I spent some time reading some great blog notes from Sten Tamkivi.

The notes are a diary about the Sloan Stanford program that Sten followed in 2013. The Sloan program is a general management program developed in 4 quarters. Searching on the quarter courses list I have found that the spring quarter has some great information regarding Sales and Business Development, two areas that are important to me. In particular there is a specific course on developing sales organizations: STRAMGT 351Building and Managing Effective Sales Organizations (James Lattin, Peter Levine). From the Stanford website we can learn that the focus of the course is on the challenges and key issues associated with the creation and management of a professional sales organization. The course is organized to follow the development of the sales function from strategic inception through to execution and implementation: choosing a go-to-market model (e.g., direct sales, VARs, OEMs, hybrid models); building and structuring the sales organization (e.g., sales learning curve, organizational structure, allocating territories and quotas); and managing the sales force (e.g., hiring/firing, compensation, forecasting, culture). These topics are analyzed in the context of both early stage ventures and later stage enterprises. The course classes are complemented with cases, guests interviews, articles and the following book The Complete Guide to Accelerating Sales Force Performance: How to Get More Sales from Your Sales Force.

The course notes are divided in weeks (week 32, week 33, week 34, week 35, week 36, week 37, week 38, week 39week 40). For each week Sten is providing some important points discussed during the class. After reading the various notes if I had to select some key points that should drive a sales manager activity I would select:

  • Hire well focusing on cultural fit, technical and communications skills
  • Manage the activities using a reverse-engineered chain of sales metrics, aligning individual actions to the key drivers of the sales economics
  • Create a fertile environment where communications flow is optimal, priorities are clear, thinking big is natural, and most energy is directed externally

Which is your experience in sales organizations? Which activities you believe are important to build an effective sales organization?

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