Tag Archives: business performance

The Sales Maturity Model Process Improvement Framework: Improving the Maturity-Level of Sales Organizations, Selling Activities, and Produce the Desired Outcome


“A Maturity Model looks at how a process should be executed, the persons who will be involved in the execution, the company infrastructure elements that will be used, the metrics and benchmarks that should be used to evaluate performance, as well as the executive responsible for oversight”.

‘Maturity’ relates to the development and growth of a process, from an ‘initial state’ to an ‘improved state’. In the context of business/sales change and improvement, the ‘initial state’ would be the implementation of a business/sales process, and the ‘improved state’ is one where the strategies of the process have been fully adopted and integrated into the organization on an ongoing and robust way. Mapping the cycle of ‘maturity’ provides a framework enabling an organization to gauge the health of its process by providing a point of reference for its ‘current state’, and then consequently guide the future direction of the process by; setting and prioritizing goals, aligning functions and projects, and setting a method for future appraisal. The ‘Maturity Model’ gives the leadership a method of measuring and reviewing the progress of an improvement program.

The ‘Capability Maturity Model (CMM)’ is a process and framework first described in the 1989 book Managing the Software Process by Watts Humphrey from his work at Carnegie Mellon. Though the CMM comes from the field of software development, it became clear that the model could be applied to other processes. This gave rise to a more general concept that is applied to business. The CMM has thus been used by different organizations as a general and powerful tool for understanding and then improving general business process performance. The ‘Capability Maturity Model (CMM)’ involves five aspects:

  • Maturity Levels: 5-level process maturity continuum; where the uppermost (5th) level is an ‘ideal state’ where processes would be systematically managed by a combination of process optimization and continuous process improvement.
  • Key Process Areas (KPA): Identifies a cluster of related activities that, when performed together, achieve a set of goals considered important.
  • Goals: Summarize the states that must exist for that key process area to have been implemented in an effective and lasting way. The goals signify the scope, boundaries, and intent of each key process area.
  • Common Features: Practices that implement and institutionalize a key process area. There are five types of common features: Commitment to Perform, Ability to Perform, Activities Performed, Measurement and Analysis, and Verifying Implementation.
  • Key Practices: Elements of infrastructure and practice that contribute most effectively to the implementation and institutionalization of the KPAs.

There are five levels defined along the continuum of the CMM where predictability, effectiveness, and control of an organization’s process are believed to improve as the organization moves up these five levels:

  • Initial (chaotic, ad hoc, individual heroics): Starting point for a new or undocumented repeatable process.
  • Repeatable: Process is at least documented sufficiently such that repeating the same steps may be attempted.
  • Defined: Process is defined/confirmed as a standard business process.
  • Managed: Process is quantitatively managed in accordance with agreed-upon metrics.
  • Optimizing: Process management includes deliberate process optimization/ improvement.

In the article “The Ends are the Means: A Sales 2.0 Maturity Model” by Eryc Branham writes:  Even at the most successful companies, executives want to know if their sales teams are performing optimally, for example:

  • Am I getting the best bang for the buck that I spend on my sales force?
  • Can I drive higher sales productivity out of my existing teams or do I need to invest in new sales staff, leadership, systems, or channels?
  • Can I meet my sales goals without making changes at all?

A useful tool for benchmarking sales performance is the ‘Sales Maturity Model’, which is based on the ‘Capability Maturity Model (CMM)’.  This model is a yardstick for a company to compare themselves against the best practice of other companies, and used to set realistic targets for sales productivity based on their ‘current maturity level’. Traditional ‘Sales Maturity Models’ have identified a number of characteristics that describe each ‘maturity phase’ including; sales metrics, sales processes, sales tools, and sales methodologies.  However, a new sales discipline has emerged over the past few years – broadly referred to as ‘Sales 2.0′ – that aims to align a company’s selling strategy to their customer’s buying behaviors. A Sales ‘Maturity Model’ that incorporates the goals of ‘Sales 2.0′ provides a better framework for companies to measure their sales performance against the latest industry best practice. This sales maturity model is composed of ‘5-ends’ that are characterized in the diagram:

In Branham’s ‘5–Ends Sales Maturity Model’ (refer to the diagram), the capabilities for each stage are additive, meaning you build upon the previous maturity stage and add new capabilities that give you entirely new productivity gains. For the past decade, the focus of most companies has been toward ‘solution selling’; shifting sales teams from a ‘product-based–Intend/Spend’ to a ‘solution-based–Recommend’. Many services-based companies have gone one-step further and present their company as a ‘trusted advisor–Comprehend’ to their customers. Each step-up the ‘maturity model’ brings new capabilities to the company’s sales team: new sales metrics, new sales tools, new skills, and even new sales channels. But the capabilities in the ‘buyer-based–Blend’ phase is recent and unique; a suite of approaches, techniques, and information that was not available prior to the advent of more sophisticated collaboration tools and social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Companies in highly competitive markets, who have made incremental improvements in their sales productivity, have only one way to go in order to differentiate themselves from their competition: Invest in these new ‘buyer-based–Blend’ capabilities and transform into a ‘Sales 2.0′ selling organization with social media tools that augment their core processes and applications. In short, the ‘5 –Ends Sales Maturity Model’ is the means through which companies can; develop a sales strategy and roadmap, set achievable goals for sales productivity, make smart investments in new capabilities that move its sales team up the ‘maturity model’ and leverage new ‘Sales 2.0′ capabilities to differentiate and win customers.

In the article “Where are you on the Sales Management Maturity Model?” by Dan Perry writes: The ‘Sales Management Maturity Model’ depicts the movement a sales manager and their sales team through several levels of maturity. Starting with a state of ‘chaos’ and eventually assuming a state of ‘predictable performance’; each one of these growth and maturity stages is represented by certain attributes that can be measured to sustain productivity. Since industries, organizations and products change consistently, that is, what is today’s hot product is tomorrows commoditized purchasing agents dream. Then, how do you move up the ‘maturity model’?  There are three ways sales management can move up the ‘maturity model’, namely: 

  • Design, Develop and Implement a Sales Process mapped to a Buying Process: Foundation of any sales strategy is a well-defined sales process that is adopted in the field.  Sales Managers can then coach and develop to the process, improve productivity and begin to move up the model.
  • Implement a Sales Performance Management System: Baseline the Key Performance Metrics by identifying how to measure these metrics accurately. Use these baselines to gauge performance as you mature. Make sure you understand what the reasons for improvement are.
  • Stick to the Sales Management Fundamentals: Regular cadence around one-on-ones, sales meetings, field evaluations and coaching to situational development is essential for increasing maturity on the model: Adhering to customers visits, making sure sales reps spend the majority of their time selling, and measuring leading indicators (funnel depth) vs. lagging indicators are essential to success.

A ‘maturity model’ seeks to answer two vital questions: Why do some improvements initiatives succeed, while others fail? What is it that successful programs do differently? Consequently, the correct utilization of a ‘maturity model’ can help greatly in ensuring that an improvement program is on the right path to success. There have been many different ‘maturity models’ for business change management, operational excellence and process improvement. Although they differ in various ways, they all set out to define the stages, process areas, constituents and levels of maturity with descriptions of the characteristics and behavior that typify these stages. In doing so, they offer the opportunity to identify best practice and guard against bad practice. In the case of the Sales ‘Maturity Model’, it serves as a roadmap for a sales organization: It provides a well-structured path that defines, evaluates, and optimizes the sales/business process within the organization. It outlines a series of steps a sales organization can take to improve results, and formalizes what is often a chaotic and disorganized process. It emphasizes well-defined processes, goals, and practices as a way to turn the sales organization and selling activities into a successful, repeatable endeavor. There are many frameworks and maturity models. They each have their merits, and their blind spots. Take a look around and pick the models that best speak to your own business needs.

“Maturity Models provides a well structured path which leads from process improvement to process excellence and finally deliver excellence and enhanced customer satisfaction.”