How can sales organizations and sales leaders touch the zone of Excellence?
- Get Real: The ability to dispassionately analyze oneself is a rarity – more so, in the case of sales organizations. Salespeople and organizations are so steeped in perpetual optimism that it is often too late before they realize that they need to change. In as much as they talk about customer pain as the motivator, it is often their own pain of not meeting their quotas and commitments that finally motivates them to act. Great sales organizations “get real” proactively and often. Getting real is all about gaining altitude on the market, their opportunity, and their ability to capitalize on the opportunity as individuals and as teams. Getting real is also about constantly questioning the true value addition to the customer and as individuals. It is also about explaining the situation as is and not glossing it with euphemisms and adjectives.
- Look back, look forward, and look anew: It is often said that there are three motivators for human beings to act – move away from pain, move towards gain or move towards novelty, till such time they determine whether the novelty moves them away from pain or towards gain. Organizations move in a similar fashion. As sales organizations, we need to understand where our customers stand, and what is motivating them to act. Our ability to build strong value propositions for each of these scenarios often help us flesh out the opportunity and help the customer achieve their desired results. Another way of looking at this, is to look at your own offerings to assess which ones address past opportunities, which ones address future areas of opportunity, and which ones appeal to current novelty? (The cloud?)
- Prioritize the Focus: As sales organizations decide to act on their motivators to change, I have seen two scenarios emerge – they over-simplify the problem to a few days of training, or complicate it with a variety of disconnected activities with no follow up. The key to any transformation is the identification and prioritization of the areas to focus. Oftentimes, assessing the impact of each issue gives us a great way to prioritize. Care should also be taken that we do not mistake the urgent for the important when it comes to choosing what to focus on.
- Separate the behavior (how) from the activity (what): With clarity comes commitment – it is incumbent on Sales managers and leaders to be absolutely clear about the behaviors that they expect from their team members. Oftentimes, we do a good job in scheduling activity and assigning outcomes but leave a lot to be desired in being clear about specific behavior that is expected in internal and customer interactions. Key traits like active listening, seeking first to understand, humility, questioning lazy thinking, and value orientation are some of the attributes that need to be demonstrated by example and expectations set on adherence. With luck, we may achieve some business results, but the quality of the value-added customer interaction is what drives customer retention, loyalty, and growth.
- Evaluate mutual value addition in every process: Value is a very commonly used term and generally connotes what we assume to provide to customer. Clearly, it is quite the opposite. It is the customers’ belief of what value is added that defines our value proposition. If there is no value exchange, there is no sale. In addition to the customer context, world class organizations also need to take a close look at value addition in their internal sales processes. Oftentimes, I have observed managers requesting compliance to processes with no reciprocal value being provided to the Field Teams. CRM compliance is a classic case in point of unreciprocated activity requested of the Field.
- Energize the future – Do not persecute the present: World class sales organization take care to set clear Standards of Performance for their teams. These Standards help them to manage to the water level of core performance expectations. Team meetings in these organizations are all about how the manager can help elevate the level of performance for their team members and not about “giving them a hard time”. If you need to ask hard questions, ask them in a soft way. Every salesperson has the choice to elevate their level of performance. Coaching is becoming a powerful enabler for positive reinforcement of expectations and for encouraging field teams to stretch their thinking to add more value in their internal and external engagements
It would be my pleasure to have some meaningful conversations, where we can create mutual value to building sales excellence.