Miller Heiman 2007 Sales Best Practices Study Sheds Light on Winning Sales Organizations

Miller Heiman announces the release of the results of the 2007 research study including a new report of the difference in perceptions among sales reps, managers and C-suite execs. The release highlights several significant findings from the research - a key differentiator between WSO practices and others, and a major perception gap among execs, managers and reps.

[ClickPress, Thu Feb 15 2007] Miller Heiman today released its annual study of complex, business-to-business selling and sales management best practices. The study identifies the practices of Winning Sales Organizations and perception gaps among sales representatives, their managers and C-level executives related to the sales process.

Dario Priolo, Miller Heiman's executive vice president of corporate development and the research project director explained, "We are excited to have had over 6,000 participants in our 2007 study. This helps us keep our finger on the pulse of what differentiates the best sales organizations across industries and regions." He added, "These findings enable us to provide unmatched insights and solutions for our clients."

Since the study was launched in 2003, more than 13,000 sales professionals have participated. The study is focused exclusively on complex, business-to-business sales – those that involve more than four decision makers and take longer than one quarter to close. This year's sample came from companies with sales forces ranging from one to 1,000+, from a broad range of industries, and countries including the U.S. (about three quarters of respondents) as well as Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, Asia, and South America.

Among the study's key findings:

Winning Sales Organizations are nearly twice as likely to have a process for knowing when to stop investing in a large deal. According to the study, only 15 percent of most organizations have such a process, compared to 29 percent of Winning Sales Organizations.

Miller Heiman CEO Sam Reese says it's understandable that so few organizations know when to walk away from a large deal. Reese calls this a huge blind spot for most sales managers. "The dictum of 'No RFP shall go unanswered' is not a good idea," he says. All too often, by the time an RFP lands on your desk, it's already too late – and your proposal will only be used for comparison purposes. Proposals take time, energy and money. Don't invest in the ones where the customer doesn't fit the template. "If you didn’t spec it," says Reese, "don't bid it."

According to the study, the biggest disconnect between sales representatives, sales managers and the C-suite is the degree to which each agrees that leadership is actively engaged in the sales process. While 78 percent of C-level executives agreed, only 49 percent of managers and 43 percent of sales representatives agree.

Reese says that an effective sales process always defines executive involvement with strategic accounts in clear and concise terms. Without such clarity, a CEO who feels that his sales force always has access to him may believe he is "engaged in the sales process," but his sales force may not agree. Reese recommends developing an executive call plan for strategic accounts. Executives shouldn't go on every sales call, and they shouldn't only go when there's a problem.

While benchmarking against peer groups has been a common practice to drive improvement for nearly every other functional area of business, Miller Heiman's research enables sales organizations for the first time to benchmark themselves against the practices of Winning Sales Organizations and industry peers.

The report data will also be used in the Miller Heiman-Sales Benchmark Index Reports for key industries to help sales leaders make data-supported decisions. With the large amount of benchmarking data now available, individual companies can now compare themselves to others in their industry and/or to the practices of Winning Sales Organizations.

Company: Miller Heiman

Contact Name: Kaye Lingad

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Contact Phone: 775.827.4411

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