End-of-year planning and new-year kickoff are the most popular times to reflect on the status of a company—where it is, where it’s headed, what needs to improve, what is successful. But a very tough selling environment calls for more frequent, deeper assessment in the struggle for survival.

Consulting with hundreds of organizations, I’ve found that the successful ones share several traits and values. I’ve created a scorecard to help you assess how well your sales organization is meeting these criteria.

While this list is not necessarily in any priority of importance, it is an effective yardstick (1=lowest, 5=highest) for defining a sales organization. Answers from other management team members can provide additional insight as well (great exercise for a management meeting).

A “5” means optimal; “3” indicates awareness of the issue and some progress in addressing it; and “1” means a need to get started.

Topic Rating
• Corporate culture is deep and consistent
• Business strategies come first
• Business development effectiveness is essential
• The best practices are consistent within my organization
• Sales is a corporate priority
• Structured process is key to success and we are focused
in all departments
• Teamwork prevails in all departments
• Training and recruitment are critically important to our success
• Compensation is linked to corporate objectives
• Corporate image and branding is important
• Total Score

45-55 Minor Tuning May Be Required
33-44 Several Projects Are Required
18-32 Multiple Actions Quickly Required
0-18 Major Assistance Required NOW

The next question is how to attain or reinforce the desired result and when to begin.

Successful leaders have a vision, passion for their business, and defined and clearly articulated message of “where we are headed.” They communicated what is necessary to accomplish and areas to focus on. The definition of leadership speaks to this clearly: The ability to make things happen by encouraging and channeling contributions of others, taking a stand on and addressing important issues, and acting as a catalyst for change and continuous improvement. Without vision and passion, individuals and the organizations will drift and be captives of the marketplace.

We see many firms struggling with lack of focus on specific issues and plans to fix, create or implement change. Pizza is a good analogy. We all can easily describe what our vision is for our favorite pizza—we can see it, smell it, and our mouths water at the image!

The areas in the scorecard are the many slices that make up the leadership pizza. You wouldn’t devour the entire pizza in one swallow. Eat one slice at a time. If you scored low in three or more areas, pick the largest slice—the area that’s the weakest and commit to fixing it over the next 30-60 days. Then tackle the rest slice by slice. As you prepare to “eat” each slice, review the scorecard. And revisit the scorecard at year-end or next year at the same time to see how much progress you have made.

Author's Bio: 

Ken Thoreson is managing director of the Acumen Management Group Ltd. (www.acumenmanagement.com), a North American consulting organization focused on improving sales management functions within growing and transitional organizations. You can reach him at ken@acumenmgmt.com or 423-884-6328.