“We have our strategy for growth but how do we get sales to deliver it?”
It’s a common challenge. The business knows where it wants to go but the sales organisation is struggling to change the way it works.
There’s too much to cover in a single post so I’ll start with some of the important principles.
1. Purpose and measurement
You may want to transition more customers to annuity-based services, retain or grow your existing customer base, launch new products or services, integrate acquired businesses or shift to a new partner or business model. Do your teams know why things are changing and what’s needed from them? Share your purpose and goals, analyse where you are and be clear on the plan to deliver.
Link organisational outcomes, behavioural metrics and learning objectives so you can clearly chart progress and spot quickly the inevitable blockers that appear.
“Having a clear goal with well-defined business and behavioural measures allowed us to achieve a substantial growth in revenue and a genuine and lasting change in our team’s capability to win strategic business” – Andy Hollingworth, L&D Business Partner at Zen
2. Sales framework aligned to the customer’s buying journey
This is the foundation for everything.
a. It creates a common and consistent structure to map and concentrate your activities on your customer’s buying journey.
“We know through our StrategyMapper app that companies that follow this kind of strategic account engagement win more and higher value business” – Travis Davis, Founder Point N Time
b. It allows you to monitor your team’s performance and skills to identify strengths and development needs.
“Having a proper methodology mapped to our specific business and industry allowed us for the first time to really train and objectively benchmark our sales team. We quickly promoted five team members to National Account Managers because of the skills they learnt and demonstrated”. – UK Sales Director
c. It promotes and guides cross-function collaboration to winning, growing and retaining customers. According to Salesforce, “73% of sales teams say collaboration across departments is ‘critical’ or ‘very important’ to the overall sales process”. In a complex B2B sale, I’d say that figure should be higher. Having a defined structure to work together, aligned to the customer’s buying journey, is key to influencing the customer’s decision.
d. It gives context to processes. For instance, does your forecast align to the customer buying journey? Just because you did a demo, does that really mean you should move the opportunity to the next stage in the forecast? Forecast percentages should map the customer’s progress through the buying journey and towards you, not the completion of certain sales tasks.
Targets and commissions, CRM, bid reviews, win-loss reports, pipeline management, opportunity planning and reporting etc – all of these and more should align to the framework you adopt.
3. Train to the framework
Sales people are busy. Generic sales training can upskill people but without a clear line of sight you may not see new skills applied in a meaningful or productive way. To engage proactively in ‘training’ they need to see clearly ‘what’s in it for them’ and that means purpose, context and relevance. A blended learning approach that’s time efficient and aimed at the right level is key. So, too, is acknowledging and encouraging the things individuals do well. A framework should encourage not supress positive individual styles and approaches.
It’s not a ‘done and run’ thing either. Continuous learning should be built into every deal and every sales meeting.
“As a result of our organic and acquisitive growth, we have a diverse sales team selling a wide portfolio of products and services through different channels. Therefore implementing and training to a consistent framework is key to delivering the best customer experience and achieving our overall aims as a true mid-market UK IT managed services business” – James Fletcher, iDevelop Portfolio Manager,IDE Group
4. Equip the managers
Sales people need their leaders to be role models. That’s a subject for its own post but making sure you have the right managers in place with clear objectives, training and support from the wider exec team is an essential component that distinguishes lip service from lasting change.
Significantly changing the way in which your sales function operates doesn’t happen overnight but impactful and lasting change can happen surprisingly quickly with this approach.
I’ll cover all these topics in more detail in a future post and welcome comments, questions and experiences about what’s worked for you.
Anna Britnor Guest – firstname.lastname@example.org