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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Why Newly Promoted Sales Leaders Rise to Their Level of Incompetence

By Kelsey Peusch

Whether you are a successful top performer seeking a senior management position or you’re already a senior Sales Leader looking to hand pick your next protégé, there is something you should know. It’s been statistically proven that the best sales representatives won’t make the best sales leaders.


All too often we encounter sales leadership teams yearning for the skills and structure required to elevate their team’s performance. We are talking about sophisticated, highly educated, teams of men and women, the majority of which were top performers in their respective organizations.

The jarring realization, one we must often share with our clients, is that the skills required to be a high performing seller are different than the skills required to lead high performing sales teams. Seems obvious, no? Unfortunately, we see organizations seeking to retain top talent by rewarding them with upward mobility with little regard to skill set.

This anomaly is known as The Peter Principle which presupposes this fact: “If organizations promote the best people at their current jobs, then organizations will inevitably promote people until they’re no longer good at their jobs. In other words, organizations manage careers so that everyone ‘rises to the level of their incompetence’. ”

Sales is no different and here is the proof.

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Boosting Sales Coaching Creativity: 3 Techniques to Reinforce Basic Selling Skills

By David Szen

I spend a lot of time with sales leaders and my hat goes off to the hours they work and pressures they accept in their role. Their job is a hard and often thankless one dealing with complex client, employee, organizational, competitive, and financial pressures.

Sales leaders have a great capacity to reinforce essential selling skills in their teams, but all too often, the day-to-day demands get in the way. While dealing with daily pressures and fire drills, many of their reps are stumbling on fundamental selling skills. The ones I hear a lot about are: 1) discovery/questioning skills, 2) navigating and answering the tough questions, and 3) delivering relevant and powerful value messages.

Here are three techniques to put the creativity back into coaching and develop these key selling skills amongst your team.

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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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Going for the WIN, Not the A+, in B2B Sales

By Rachel Cavallo

I admit it, I was that kid in school.  I sat in the front row, and I generally had my hand raised.  I studied every night and wouldn’t dream of coming to school unprepared.  Straight As were important to me, and I would do anything to keep my teachers or parents from seeing me unprepared or not in “straight A” form… 

Fast forward a few years (okay maybe more than a few), and I’ve had a realization working with a lot of awesome “type A” sales professionals … the real world of B2B sales is not at all about getting straight A’s – it’s about getting numbers on the board, and many of the things you have to do to win are completely contrary to straight A habits.

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Sales Leader’s First 90 Days: Setting a Longer-Term Sales Strategy (Post 4 of 4)

By Hope Eyre

This is the conclusion of our multi-part exploration of how sales leaders approach their first 90 days in a new role. The topic was born from a startling statistic: The average tenure of a Sales VP working in the same role at the same company is incredibly brief – only about 18 months.

So many of our clients have found themselves in a new position, after a relatively short tenure elsewhere, that we wondered what we could learn from their experiences that could be put to pragmatic use by sales leaders changing jobs.

Post 4 of 4

In this, our final blog post (for days 60 through 90), we’ll show you how to organize the considerable information you’ve gathered, actively look for major alignment issues and build a roadmap that sets longer-term sales strategy.

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Sales Leader's First 90 Days: Dig Deep to Determine Longer-Term Strategy (Post 3 of 4)

By Hope Eyre

Introduction

This is a continuation our multi-part exploration of how sales leaders approach their first 90 days in a new role at either a new company or with a new sales team at their current company. The topic was born from a startling statistic: The average tenure of a Sales VP working in the same role at the same company is incredibly brief – only about 18 months.

So many of our clients have found themselves in new positions, after a relatively short tenure in their previous roles, that we wondered what we could learn from their experiences.

Article 3 of 4

In Article 1, we tackled onboarding yourself with your new company to prepare for day 1. Article 2 offers concrete steps for balancing the need for learning with the need to take the quick actions required to achieve early wins – what we call our “Secure & Get Right” method.

In this article, we’ll show you how to dig deep into the sales organization so you can systematically surface the knowledge you need to determine longer-term strategy. We’ll also use our discovery process to understand the all-important political and cultural landscape. Finally, we’ll begin building relationships with key influencers whom you will, sooner or later, have to rely on to ensure your team’s success.

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Sales Leader's First 90 Days: Learn and Take Action for Early Wins

By Hope Eyre

Introduction

This is a continuation our multi-part exploration of how sales leaders approach their first 90 days in a new role at either a new company or with a new sales team at their current company. The topic was born from a startling statistic: The average tenure of a Sales VP working in the same role at the same company is incredibly brief – only about 18 months.

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Sales Coaching: To Bear Fruit, Build on the Fundamentals

By David Szen

If you’re like most sales managers, your inbox is crammed with the latest and greatest coaching secrets. Each year, hundreds of books and workshops promise new techniques to help your sales team exceed its targets, out-sell the competition, and generate greater-than-ever revenues.

But let’s get real: year after year, does the art and science of coaching actually change all that much?  Has selling evolved in a way that requires a brand new perspective every cycle?

We think not. In fact, we’ve come to see successful sales coaching as more incremental than transformative. It’s like tending an orchard. Tree farmers read up on new techniques in irrigation, fertilization and pest control, but the essentials – the best practices – evolve. Same with sales coaching: While new models and methods can be useful, sales leaders who build on the fundamentals are likely to get the best results.

If you have one bad harvest, you don’t uproot your entire orchard; you go back to the ABCs, make small-but-continual improvements based on new knowledge, maybe prune a few under-performers – and pretty soon your efforts will bear fruit.

But what does an effective sales coach look like? And what are the basics of the discipline?

In this blog, we look at the fundamentals of sales coaching – the traits of great coaches, coaching to the bell curve, and managing sales reports.

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The First 90 Days for a Sales Leader: A Guide to Success

By Hope Eyre

If you’re a Sales VP and you’ve been in the same role for more than 2 years – Congratulations, you’re above average (like a child from Lake Wobegon). You’ve already exceeded the average Sales VP shelf life of 18 months. Statistically, it’s just a matter of time before you change jobs.

Maybe you’re a veteran to the role, but you’ve taken on a far larger sales organization than you’ve ever led before. Maybe you’re a brand new Sales VP and are still shaping your leadership skills.

Maybe your company just reorganized, and you find yourself heading up an entirely different sales organization than the one you had previously – or even more daunting, you’ve been charged with building one out of whole cloth.

And maybe you’re hovering around that 18-month mark, and circumstances are making you wonder whether you should start looking.

So many of our long-term clients include sales leaders who’ve moved from one company to another (often more than once) that we decided to build a guide for achieving quick wins, avoiding pitfalls and setting a clear, long-term sales strategy within The First 90 Days.

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