As sales leaders across industries close out the year and begin to look at next year, a theme that we continue to hear in the marketplace is that organizations are either considering, starting or in the midst of some form of sales transformation. As we covered in the introduction to the 6 Key Elements to Effective Sales Transformation series, a recent gathering of Sales Executives in Atlanta revealed some of the successes and challenges of effectively leading and managing a sales transformation. One of the executive panelists was kind enough to share what he views as the ‘Sales Ecosystem’ that must be adapted and effectively leveraged in order to drive organizational transformation. Today, we focus on sales force effectiveness.
The Sales Ecosystem
Our panelist described this element of the Sales Ecosystem as “Everything from sales process, sales methodology to coaching, opportunity management and key account management.” Each of these 5 topics in and of itself has libraries written about them, so rather than focus on what each element is, we will focus on keys to successfully executing within this element of the sales ecosystem. Below are some of the best practices that we see top performing organizations applying:
- Alignment: Within top performing organizations, we see alignment between each of the 5 areas mentioned within the Sales Force Effectiveness realm. What kind of alignment, you might ask? We see a few specific areas that are critical:
Alignment with Customers: Each of the 5 elements is aligned with how customers buy and consume the company’s product. This looks different across industries, customer types and even companies within an industry. It all comes back to a fundamental understanding of how and why customers buy from you and aligning sales activities with how customers consume. This sounds simple, but in an organization with a changing or shifting market, this is often one of the biggest transformational challenges.
Alignment within the Sales Organization: Often times, there are many different approaches to each of these 5 disciplines within an organization. Best in class organizations agree on the level of cross organizational alignment and ensure that there is agreement between the sales organization on the approach that will be used within different selling environments
Cross Organizational Alignment: Connection between the way that the 5 disciplines are deployed and managed within the sales organization and how they touch other organizations such as marketing, operations and customer service.
- Scale: Within top performing organizations, we see that these approaches are scaled across the selling organization. So, while a global account manager may have some differing specifics in how they execute, there is commonality between their approach and that of a mid-market inside sales rep. How do companies accomplish this? They do it through:
Consistent Language: Leveraging a consistent terminology across the enterprise.
Consistent Expectation: There is consistent expectation driven across the organization about embracing and adopting the organization’s approach to Sales Force Effectiveness.
Consistent Coaching: Managers coach in a common way and to common core principles across different go-to-market disciplines.
- Innovation: Top performing organizations seek genuine improvement in the way that they approach and engage with customers, while those that struggle to consistently drive Sales Force Effectiveness are always chasing a ‘new flavor of the month’. Our panelist summed this point up nicely by saying “How you drive Sales Force Effectiveness must be an authentic and novel approach to engaging with your customers that is different from how your competitors engage. This means that you cannot just label the latest fad a transformation initiative. I have seen this in many of the companies that I have worked in and it rarely ends well.”
Whether you are at the beginning, middle or end of your sales transformation journey, applying these 3 keys to success in your environment will drive genuine Sales Force Effectiveness and next level results for your customers and organization.
To read more from the Effective Sales Transformation series:
- Element 2: Sales Enablement
- Element 3: Sales Force Strategy
- Element 4: Sales and Marketing Alignment
- Element 5: Sales Talent Management
- Element 6: Sales Operations