True re-engineering is the radi­cal redesign of business processes to achieve major gains in cost, service or time. The key question is: “If we could start from scratch, how would we do this?” And the result: “Then do it that way, and throw away every­thing else.”

The point and power of re-engineer­ing is the clean sheet of paper with which it begins. Filling it in begins with customers: The right question is, “How do they want to deal with us?” not “How do we want to deal with them?”

OK, so where does re-engineering sales come in? Unfortunately, even though there appears to be an ideal fit for re-engineering principles and the sales department, the focus is on manufacturing and operations and ignores sales. What would happen if we thought of the definition in sales terms?  “If we could start our sales force from scratch … ?” If we weren’t burdened with the “we’ve always done it this way” paradigm, what would be some of the key questions we might ask ourselves?

Here are 10 possibilities:

  1. What would the functional job de­scriptions for our salespeople look like?
  2. How would I compensate the sales force to include the new, required behavior?
  3. Would our territories be structured the same way as today?
  4. How would we develop sales leads?
  5. Who would we call on?
  6. How would we qualify our suspects to be prospects?
  7. Would we still use the same old fea­tures and benefits approach to selling or would we have to train our staff to be more consultative?
  8.  How would we train? Use our man­agement staff to do it? Use DVDs and PowerPoints? Hire an expert? Clone the sales manager?
  9. Would we hire the same people we have today? If not, what could we have done better in the interview process to avoid the same mistakes?
  10.  Would we be better if we used the available sales technology to im­prove our performance?

All of these things and more should be considered by every sales manager and business leader today – especially if you plan to be around for a while.

Applying the re-engineering con­cepts to your sales department won’t be easy, but an argument could be made for starting the process there within your company.

For all its countless examples of success through change and macho language, re-engineering is like any other effort to change the way people work. Culture counts big. Change won’t occur merely because manage­ment wills it.

You might survive the old way, but you will grow in the new way. It’s the transition that’s really tough. Once the once-clean sheet of paper is cov­ered with boxes, lines and arrows, the true test of leadership begins.