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Strategic sales management: how to take your sales team from good to great

As their firms’ frontline ambassadorssales teams are key revenue drivers responsible for converting leads into customers, nurturing client relationships and promoting overall business growth. Despite their strategic relevance, many firms don’t do enough to make sure their sales force is operating at its fullest potential. This is a major oversight, according to Prof. Julián Villanueva. 


“Companies spend countless hours poring over financial statements, but few dedicate the same amount of energy to analyzing the performance of their sales structure”. 

Julián Villanueva, IESE Professor of Marketing. 

Optimal sales results require regular marketing audits  

Marketing audits can help your company enhance its marketing operations in the same way accounting audits help improve accounting systems. While the concept of a marketing audit dates back to the 1950s, ididn’t gain traction until decades later through research by the renowned author and academic Phillip KotlerIn his words, a marketing audit is “comprehensive, systematic, independent and periodic examination of a company’s marketing environment, objectives, strategies and activities”. 

A strategic framework to boost salesforce results

Marketing audits provide invaluable customer and market insightsas well as information to establish realistic objectives. In order to help business leaders implement this essential resourceProf. Villanueva, along with Profs. Francisco Iniesta and Juan Manuel de Tororecently developed a five-tier pyramid framework, with a robust sales strategy at its foundation:  

1. Sales strategy

Sales strategies are based on a clearly defined target market, SWOT analysis, unique value proposition, pricing strategy, competitive positioning and go-to-market plan. Often combining physical and digital channels, they serve as an essential roadmap for sales teams by stipulating best practices and processes to market the firm’s offering.

2.  Sales structure

Dividing your sales structure by product lines, territories and client accounts, as well as carefully designing and monitoring your sales process, can optimize corporate resources.    

3.  Team motivation

Attractive economic incentivesclose supervision and regular performance appraisals are all key to motivating and aligning your salesforce. Continuous development opportunities that inspire members’ personal and professional growth are another common trait of high-performance sales teams.  

4. Sales execution

 Strategies will only succeed when expertly implemented and monitored, with inputs from both sales directors and mid-level managerswho play a critical role by supporting the sales director’s strategic vision and working closely with sales reps to ensure alignment. 

5. Sales scorecard

At the top of the pyramid are qualitative and quantitative KPIs to evaluate results, competitive position and client relations, and pinpoint areas for improvement. 


If you aspire to supercharge the performance of your sales team, learn more about IESE’s Strategic Sales Management program. Designed for CEOs, chief sales officers, sales directors and chief marketing officers, it offers participants innovative strategies and proven frameworks to elevate their sales operations. 

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