Gap between best and good is widening


Miller Heiman Sales Best Practices Study 2013 shows that the gap between the best and good is widening. 

2012 the study identified just 6 percent of respondents qualifying as World-Class Sales Organizations.  We saw a 20 percent gap between World-Class Sales Organizations and All Respondents in key performance metrics. 


Performance gap widens to 25%

When we looked at the 2013 data, a couple of things jumped out at us right away.  One was that only 4.9 percent qualified as world class, down 1.1 points from 2012.  But even more significant is that the performance gap between this small group of World-Class Sales Organizations and All Respondents is now 25% across key metrics.  That performance gap between World Class and All has grown 5 points. We want to determine not just why is the gap growing, but what are the elements of the gap. 

This year’s World-Class population is at a 3-year low.  The study captures year-end sentiment, so 2010 captured the great recession of 2009.  This year’s data captures the sentiment at 2012 year end, during the “worst recovery ever.”


Miller Heiman Sales Best Practices Study

The Miller Heiman Sales Best Practices Study, now in its 10th year, captures and measures the behaviors, attributes and performance of World-Class Sales Organizations. This Study provides the foundation for our ability to benchmark organizations against World-Class Sales Organizations and other data segments including industries, geographies, or sales roles. 

A variety of industries, roles and regions are included in our response base, and an important note is that this study is not exclusive to Miller Heiman clients or alumni, in fact this year only 30 percent of respondents are Miller Heiman clients. 


3 defining attributes of World-Class Sales Organizations

We found in our research that there are 3 defining attributes of World-Class Sales Organizations.

  • They have the customer at the core.
  • They have a collaborative culture.
  • And they are calibrated for success.


Customer at the core

World-Class Sales Organizations focus on their customers.  All their efforts and energies are focused on being the customers’ key resource, getting close to their customers. In the study results there’s a 58 point gap between the best and all. 

World-Class Sales Organizations have a formalized value proposition, they are aligned in what customers want and need, they understand customer issues, and they review the results of their solution with the customer. 


Collaborative culture

World-Class Sales Organizations work together, they have a collaborative culture. Study results show that there is a 61 point gap between the best and all. 

By collaborative culture, we don’t mean that they just play nice together, but that they have the culture and a process that supports and promotes collaboration. They have a common set of structures, of processes, of frameworks and terminology they use to discuss how they are going to create opportunities, how they are going to manage opportunities, and how they are going to manage relationships. They have a common set of messages aligned with those processes, and a knowledge base they leverage off of that that allows them to synchronize quickly and to focus on the customer situation, in effect collaborate. 

World-Class Sales Organizations are highly effective in allocating resources, bringing in a variety of disciplines to be successful.  Their managers are effective.   They not only know why the top performers are successful, but they are able to collaborate and leverage the best practices of those top performers.


Calibrated success

Finally, calibrated success.  This means they have the ability to not just measure results, but also the behaviors that drive those results, establish benchmarks and consciously improve the capabilities of their sales organizations. Study results show a 53 point gap between best and all. 

World-Class Sales Organizations have established criteria for key customers, align compensation with business objectives to drive desired results and have confidence that the CRM data used for funnels and forecasts.  We know that the sales force is spending enough time with customers. 


What this research and the analysis has shown us is the behaviors that drive results for World-Class Sales Organizations align into 3 main attributes around being centered on the customer, being able to collaborate across the organization and being calibrated for success.  These attributes are the drivers of the gap and why that gap is growing. 

At Miller Heiman we believe that the customer resides at the heart of all we do, and we use our Sales System as our lens to better understand that. In total, it is not one thing that separates World Class, that separates good from great, but a number of behaviors and attributes working together.  It is the combination of 12 behaviors, and the 3 attributes that have contributes to the growing gap between good and great.


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