For the basis of this case report we will assume Jeremy Wilsons role as VP of Sales for Jive Software were we will look at the core building blocks of the sales function that are required to assist Jive Software implement their sales strategy. In addition we will also look at what steps the new VP of Sales John McCracken needs to take to resolve the sales problems Jive Software were facing due to the growth of the company.
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Core building blocks of a Sales function
For any business that is going to implement a sales strategy there are some key factors that need to be considered. For example, who are your target customers, do you have any competitors in this market space, what geographically regions are you going to concentrate on, and what core building blocks of the sales function are required to realize the sales strategy. In Jive’s situation we know that their target audience comprised of large scale organizations and SME’s. We also know that Jive’s reputation firmly put them to the forefront as the leading provider of social networking for enterprise which in essence gave them an advantage over their competitors. As for the geographically regions, due to the nature of their business there are no limitations as to where Jive could not sell their product suite. This leaves the question, what are core building blocks of the sales function they need to put in place? After reviewing the situation it was determined that the core building blocks were, a centralized Information system, a functional sales pipeline, sales resources, marketing investment and an agreed sales budget.
Centralized Information System
The initiation of a centralized information system will improve how Jive manage, store and disseminate their information. In employing systems such as Transaction Processing Systems (TPS), Office Automation Systems (OAS), Decision Support Systems (DSS) and Customer Relationship Management systems (CRM) it allows the integration of the functional areas within the organization.(i.e. Sales and Marketing, Finance, Operations and HR) (Malaga, 2005) The result of this integration provides easier access to both internal and external information which assists senior management making decisions that affect the daily running of Jive but also helps in achieving their strategic sales goals.
Development of a Sales Pipeline
Following the deployment of the information system Jive need to analyze all sales leads that have been generated and employ a functional sales pipeline to give senior management visibility on the sales leads while also enabling them to qualify which leads the sales team should be focusing their efforts on. This effectively allows Jive to see which companies would get the greatest benefits out of using Jive’s social networking enterprise system and to rank them accordingly. (Reynolds, 2012)
The number of resources required to manage all the sales opportunities in the pipeline is vital. That is how many account managers, sales engineers, administration staff, technical support and field service engineers do Jive need? In addition these resources will require the relevant training in sales, customer support, the CRM information system as well as the Jive product suite itself. (Reynolds, 2012)
Providing literature to the sales team in the form of PDF’s, brochures etc. For example, information on the product specifications, retail price of the products, lead time on the delivery of the product, warranty duration, an overview of Jive’s abilities and capabilities, and a standard sales pitch the sales person should deliver to the customer. Also providing the customer’s with the facility to download a copy of the software to evaluate is extremely advantageous as it allows Jive’s to showcase the product to wide audience which in turn will assist in the generation of sales leads.
The last but not least core building block is Jive’s sales budget. It is imperative that Jive control the budget to ensure their sales strategy is effective. Developing a centralized information system is expensive and when you factor in the cost of training, marketing, travel, entertainment etc.. the overall budget can be quite high. (Ma, 2012)
A new era for Jive Software
For this section of this report will look at the steps the new VP of Sales John McCracken needs to take to mitigate the sales problems Jive Software were facing.
Focus on Enterprise Business
In 2008 Chris Morace (VP of Product Marketing) instigated the initial changes in how Jive did their prospecting of customers by moving from the shotgun sales approach of selling to everyone and anyone to concentrating on the enterprise sector. However there may still be some issues with the sales reps regarding this strategy. John McCracken will have to address this situation and explain that spending a large portion of their time on SME accounts that give little return in the way of revenue is not the way forward. He needs them to focus their efforts on looking at Jive’s existing customers and determining, which ones generate high revenues with high profit margins, what problems do Jive solve for these customers, and most importantly why do these customer do business with Jive Software. (Robertson, 2012) In conjunction the sales reps should refrain from selling legacy/patched up products and focus on selling the latest Clearspace product.
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John needs to move the sales team away from the reactive selling done in the past. He should adopt a pro-active solution selling approach to target the customer’s specific business need or problem they are trying to solve. Arguably this would require the sales rep to have detailed knowledge of customers business and industry. However employing this approach would mean the sales reps are working more closely with the customers either by email, telephone or site visits which ultimately enables them to forge strong relationships with the key decision makers in these companies whilst also attaining vital market intelligence.
Repair the broken link with product development
For the future success of Jive it’s important that John has the sales reps feed information gathered from customer visits back into the Jive’s product development team so they can work on the next generation of Jive’s product suite.
Revise Group Quota System
Address the current problems the quarterly quota system is causing. One solution to this problem could be to apply an annual forecasting system instead. This will end the mid-quarter quota issues that faced the sales reps under Jeremy Wilson’s stewardship. However it is still crucial that John holds monthly meetings with his sales team to ensure they are continuously monitoring the situation and the Jive are still on track to meet the forecasted sales set out at the start of the fiscal year. There also needs to be greater transparency when it comes to who is responsible for which accounts, what selling techniques were used and which sales reps are meeting their target sales.
Jive Software’s Profile
Finally John should increase Jive’s company profile in the social network enterprise market space. This could be achieved by exhibiting Jive’s product range at trade shows, publishing articles on Jive Software in industry trade magazines, speaking at industry conferences, providing a list of Jive’s top enterprise customers on the website as well as getting testimonials from these customers endorsing the Jive product range. (Robertson, 2012)
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