Expert advice for benefits brokers selling services in a tough economy

St. Paul, MN–First, the grim news. Quota attainment among sales organizations is down to 59 percent compared to 61 percent last year.(1) Depending on the industry, 25 to 33 percent of people who report sales as all or part of their job responsibilities are unsuited for their jobs.(2) And, although eight out of 10 opportunities are lost due either to ineffective qualification or the absence of formal planning, three out of five companies do not have a sales performance measurement program in place.(3)

Dave Stein, CEO of ES Research Group, Inc., a sales and marketing consulting firm, says that even if your sales organization is thriving and has the metrics in place to prove it, the market is throwing four major obstacles in the way of sales performance: The economy; increasingly savvy and tough-minded buyers; increasingly relentless competition; and commoditization of product offerings.

Stein defines these issues and offers strategies for dealing with them in a webinar sponsored by Minnesota Life Insurance Company’s Group Life unit and archived on their site. It is available at no charge to all who register.

In the Minnesota Life presentation, Stein says organizations must embrace five practices to meet these challenges and improve performance. Collectively, they offer the “silver bullet” of sales effectiveness: taking a strategic approach to sales.

– Close the process gap. Considering the high cost of a mismatch between sales personnel and sales skills, firms should employ profile-based hiring. Specific methods and processes nurture prospects and acquire and retain clients.

– Implement new approaches to learning and training. What’s needed is sales training personalized to the individual, localized to the industry and specific to the job.

– Align sales and marketing. Marketing must lead the charge for sensing, finding, clarifying and assessing new opportunities.(4)

– Embrace technology-enabled selling. Sales teams that aren’t plugged into Sales 2.0 and using the social networking power of the Web to grow their businesses will eat their competitors’ dust.

– Measure sales performance. Sales metrics can put your organization head and shoulders above the competition, 40 percent of whom don’t have any real measurement system in place.5

Dave Stein consults with professional services and management consulting firms around the world and writes the monthly “Smart Sales” column for Sales & Marketing Management magazine. He also serves as Adjunct Professor of Sales and Sales Management at The Dublin (Ireland) Institute of Technology.

With $560 billion of life insurance in force as of August 31, 2009, Minnesota Life Insurance Co. is one of the nation’s top ten group life insurers, rising from sixteenth largest in 1997 to fourth in 2007. Respondents to customer surveys are 100 percent satisfied with the service they receive from Minnesota Life, giving the company the exceptional Net Promoter Score of 87 percent. For more information about web-based services offered by Minnesota Life Insurance Co., a subsidiary of Securian Financial Group, visit

1CSO Insights, 2009.
2ES Research, 2009
4ISBM 2010 study.
5ES Research, 2009

This press release was distributed through PR Web by Human Resources Marketer (HR Marketer: on behalf of the company
listed above.