The success or failure of a sales organisation depends on many different factors, including the quality of products or services, the abilities of sales reps, sales consulting staff, marketers and customer service teams, and various external factors as well. However, ultimately, it is the decisions made within a business that go furthest towards determining how successful a business is, which is why getting decisions right is vital.
In many ways, it can be said that business decisions are choices made by individuals, but ensuring that those individuals come together to consistently make good decisions relies upon having an effective decision making process. In this article, we look at how success in sales is affected by the decision making process and how businesses can act to ensure their processes are conducive to making consistently good decisions.
When it comes to actually making decisions, organisational structure is important, because there needs to be a clear understanding of who is involved in decision making meetings and how decisions are finally reached. For example, some decisions will be made at executive level and may be decided by a vote, while others, such as decisions related to individual employee development, may be made unilaterally by line managers.
“An army’s success depends at least as much on the quality of the decisions its officers and soldiers make and execute on the ground as it does on actual fighting power,” Marcia W. Blenko, Michael Mankins and Paul Rogers write in an article published by the Harvard Business Review. “A corporation’s structure, similarly, will produce better performance if and only if it improves the organization’s ability to make and execute key decisions.”
That same HBR article also highlights research, which shows a 95 percent correlation between decision making effectiveness and business results, with top-quintile businesses scoring an average of 71 out of 100 on a decision making effectiveness scale, compared to an average of 30 out of 100 or below among other businesses.
While those statistics clearly highlight the importance of businesses making the correct decision, achieving true decision making effectiveness also depends heavily on making decisions at the right time. In order to do this, key business decisions must be identified, then prioritised in terms of how soon a decision is needed and how important or far-reaching the consequences or potential outcomes of that decision are.
“Every leader faces an uncountable string of decisions; successful leaders learn to give their attention to the ones that count,” says Elise Keith, co-founder of Lucid Meetings. “Which decisions do you need to make and which should you ignore or delegate? How do you prioritize the decisions in front of you?”
A major crisis in sales procedures will need quick decisions to be made, which means giving it priority, but potentially making a unilateral decision. A less significant decision, which still needs to be made quickly to be relevant, may instead be delegated. A vitally important decision, which does not require urgent action should be given high priority, but time should be taken to try and achieve unanimous agreement.
Failure to properly prioritise decisions can result in important sales-related action points being made too late, great sales opportunities being missed, or inadequate time being spent on decisions, resulting in a poor outcome.
The quality and timing of decisions can make or break a sales organisation, which is why it is so important for the decision making process to be addressed through your organisational structure. In addition to knowing who will make decisions, or how a final decision will be reached, learning to prioritise the right decisions can be the difference between missing sales opportunities or failing to address a major problem in time.