The talking heads on TV news have moved on to other things, but the popular media continues to reverberate with wrong-headed opinions about the Wells Fargo consumer account debacle.
It’s time to weigh in with clear thinking for sales leaders.
In the United States our farmers now produce tenfold the output of their post-WWII grandparents. Advances in mechanization, high-yield varieties, fertilizers, irrigation, and pesticides created a “second agricultural revolution.”
In sales we also have farmers who have revolutionized their output. They’re Strategic Account Managers (SAMs) who lead Strategic Account Management programs. Like their agricultural brethren, SAMs’ contribution to corporate bottom lines has grown exponentially as a result of advances in their craft.
strategic account management,
When I’m exploring sales performance issues with CEOs and their sales leaders, I always dive deep into what they feel the next steps should be.
I hear things like:
“We need a sales process—we’re not growing volume/margin like we should.”
“We need better efficiency and transparency--our CRM isn’t performing.”
“Our salespeople need better motivation--help us change the compensation plan.”
These may be valid pieces to the puzzle, but they’re not necessarily the highest priorities.
Only rarely do I hear an accurate self-diagnosis of the root cause of a lot of pain:
“We need to get the right people on the bus.”
A sales career is a series of “gut checks” —situations where:
The stakes are high.
The outcome is unpredictable.
Your next move can tip the balance in either direction.
Gut checks teach us in the moment, but they also become the stories that define us. This one forever shaped my understanding of how customers want to be treated.
In my last blog I opined that teaching prospecting skills to individuals who lack “hunter” DNA is a fool’s errand. That said, for the right audience it’s one of the most valuable things I do as a revenue growth consultant. For example, I find that many otherwise passionate business development professionals are failing to seize upon an emerging technology that can revolutionize their prospecting efficiency and shorten their B2B sales cycles: email tracking.
Devoted readers of my blog and newsletter may have been wondering why I haven’t posted recently. I took a detour from my consulting practice by hiring on full time with a client for fourteen months. I had an opportunity to get into a turnaround business (I'm a sucker for turnarounds) and “eat my own dog food” as a CSO. Here's what I learned.
b2b sales leads,
The New Solution Selling,
“Senior managers are looking for someone to give you the courage to act,” explained Duncan, my prospective executive coach. It hit me like a ton of bricks. Over the years I had turned around successively larger regional operations for Coca-Cola Enterprises, then applied that experience at North American headquarters to take tens of millions of dollars in cost out of the corporate P&L. In my current role I was having fun slaying dragons on a daily basis as one of the key actors in a much-needed transformation of a $16B business. Yet the feedback in no uncertain terms was that I could accomplish more, that my leadership effectiveness was falling short in the politically charged thickets at headquarters.
“Delighting the customer” is a popular mantra in firms dealing with the rapid evolution of the sales process. Technology has empowered buyers of all kinds – from B2B to consumer markets – to move themselves through the sales cycle. Taking a self-service approach, buyers discover new products online, research features, read reviews and even compare prices before engaging a sales rep.
Fostering teamwork has long been a holy grail in business culture, and on the surface the selling function is as committed to this ideal as any area of the enterprise. What major sales organization hasn’t featured a legendary coach on the podium of their annual sales meeting? We even call it a sales team to vaguely imply that the performance of the group is greater than the sum of its individual parts, that it can enhance the organization’s ability to adapt to new challenges and develop innovative solutions for customers.
crm implementation best practices,
setting sales goals,
In the course of my consulting work I’m frequently asked how to launch lasting change across a large sales organization. I always respond with, “Quickly deliver value to a small portion of your business through a successful pilot.”