Masami Middleton

As a Principal Consultant with Symmetrics Group, Masami Middleton combines the market focus and execution of a Marketing VP with the critical, data-driven orientation of a seasoned strategist. Masami is passionate about sales and marketing integration and helping organizations take a disciplined approach to defining sales and marketing process and enabling technologies. Over the last 25 years, Masami has served as a strategy consultant and marketing leader from Fortune 500 to start-up environments.

Recent Posts

Top 10 Account Planning Mistakes to Avoid

By Masami Middleton

In B2B sales, driving revenue from existing accounts is far easier than landing net new customers. With so much opportunity available, why do mature sales organizations still “wing it” with their Account Planning process?

According to CEB/Gartner research, only 28% of sales leaders believe their account management channels meet their cross-selling and account growth targets. Thoughtful, intentional account plans provide real strategic insight and actionable game plans for account teams to meet growth targets. For sales managers, account plans provide an excellent foundation for consistent coaching conversations, insight into forecasts, and an overall way of staying engaged with customer activity.

Account Planning is the process of determining the best way to grow and add value to existing accounts. While many organizations engage in both Account Planning and Territory Planning (systematically determining how to optimize impact over a portfolio of accounts), the purpose of this post is to explore the deep dive Account Planning process to dissect one account at a time.

If your team is currently digging into Account Planning (or about to), here are 10 common mistakes to avoid.

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Using Buyer Personas to Drive Sales and Marketing Alignment

By Masami Middleton

How common is this scenario between Sales and Marketing at companies you’ve worked for?

Sales depends on Marketing to nail down the target customer and deliver leads.
Yet when the leads come in, the vast majority are not qualified.
As a result, the Sales team gripes about needing more help from Marketing.
After all, they’ve got a big budget – what are they spending it on?

Regardless of how marketing allocates budget and resources, I would bet the most common issue behind the conflict and misalignment is a lack of well-defined buyer personas.

Buyer personas create a common language between Sales and Marketing to talk about the real people who represent your ideal customer. The quicker you can relate to these target customers and address their pains and goals (at the top the funnel), the better you can meet their needs in every marketing or sales interaction down the funnel.

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Changing the Tires on a Sales Team in Motion: Sales Transformation vs. Sales Disruption

By Masami Middleton

How many times have you heard the term “sales transformation” and thought it’s just consultant speak?  Or an ideal that’s impossible amidst your team’s never-ending hustle to make the number? 

If you are a seasoned sales leader, you’ve probably lived through all kinds of disruptive forces.  Mergers and acquisitions, business model changes, new competitors, and leadership or rep turnover. These factors can render your sales strategy, process, selling skills, or organization structure obsolete (or dated at best).

While many sales leaders recognize that a transformational change is in order for one or more of these areas, actually executing it feels like changing the tires on a car that’s moving fast.  But what’s the tradeoff? Would you rather change the tires now for future performance gains or skip it and risk a high-speed blowout on your sales team?

NASCAR pit crews change tires and re-fuel multiple times over 200-400 laps to give their racer the necessities to win.  We recommend a similar, sequenced approach to prioritize and execute sales initiatives across a transformation journey.

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7-Point Checklist to Grade Your Sales Management Cadence

By Masami Middleton

Great sales leaders demonstrate three things consistently.  They are great sellers, great coaches, and great operators.  We find that of these three traits, leaders are best at trait #1 (no surprise that skilled sellers get promoted to management), but typically fall short on traits #2 and 3 (coaching and operating).

We have published 16+ blogs on or around sales coaching – it’s a popular topic.  What’s less popular?  The mechanics of successfully operating a sales team.

The good news is, of the three leader traits, "operating" is the easiest to learn and most straight forward (albeit detailed) to implement.  It also supports coaching by putting structure around what you look for in your team interactions and how you help them get there.

We don’t care what you call your method of operations – cadence, rhythm, motions, cycle, sequence...  If you have a structured series of team and one-on-one meetings and interactions (over the course of a year, quarter, month, and week) that together help your team make their number and meet organizational goals, you are an effective operator.

Here is a 7-point checklist, with supporting examples, that you can use to give yourself an honest grade on how you operate your sales team. How does your management cadence stack up?

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Essential Ingredients for a Great Sales Kickoff Meeting

By Masami Middleton

It’s that time of year for many sales leaders -- time to gear up for the annual sales kickoff meeting.  Is this a dreaded or anticipated task at your organization?

Knowing the opportunity costs of pulling your reps out of the field and the expectation of value that comes with that, we’ve rounded up perspectives on what makes a great SKO from twelve sales leaders, sellers, and executives from marketing, product, learning and development, and outside consultants. 

We asked each about an essential ingredient or a highly effective agenda item they have seen work well based on their experience.  Thank you to our colleagues who contributed their insights! 

Topics: sales kickoff
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6 Strategies for Sales and Marketing Alignment

By Masami Middleton

Like oil and water, Sales and Marketing teams don’t always “mix” the way they’re supposed to, and at worst, will view each other with suspicion or blame. This is a sad and ironic truth, given that everything these two teams do should support a singular goal of growing revenue. 

The benefits of sales and marketing alignment are compelling.  Together, these teams have the potential to reduce the sales cycle, meet the needs of high value customers across their buyer’s journey, and directly link ROI to marketing initiatives.

Underscoring the importance of a blended marketing and sales skill set, Forrester Research says the most successful sales people will become hybrid marketers1. By 2020, the need for B2B salespeople will change to demand a more “consultative seller”.

How can Sales and Marketing work more effectively together? 

Based on our experience addressing these opportunities for clients, and our first-hand experience with marketing and sales collaboration at Symmetrics Group, here are 6 strategies for achieving sales and marketing alignment.

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Top Performer DNA: Interview with Ed Calnan of Seismic Software

By Masami Middleton

As part of our Top Performers in Sales series, we recently had the privilege of interviewing Ed Calnan, Founder and President of sales enablement solution provider Seismic.  Ed offers perspectives on high performance sales from two angles -- as a leader of a high growth SaaS company, and as an enabler of sales productivity and collaboration for Seismic customers.

When asked what differentiates the best people in sales, Ed cites three key traits: 1) The ability to understand and navigate organizations, 2) Proficiency in addressing business problems, and 3) Discipline to learn from wins and losses. Ed and his Seismic team are uniquely skilled at these pursuits as innovators in customer engagement, sales process, and Account Based Marketing.

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