I read a post from Jason Averbook, CEO of Knowledge Infusion, and was inspired to apply his thinking to the state of B2B sales, especially with the first of three Presidential debates televised this evening. Given that the presidential election is almost upon us, I thought it would be appropriate to revisit the title of this post, and famous political question, from a perspective of the major drivers of sales effectiveness.
- Sales Strategy – in the last four years, there continues to be an explosion in the amount of data created and consumed. HBR has just highlighted “Big Data” as a cover article in their latest issue. The question here is: are you leveraging the plethora of information (not just data) to improve and optimize your customer segmentation, targeting, and alignment of sales channels and coverage?
- Sales & Marketing Integration – Just as we reflect on the partisan nature of our two party political system - has progress been made to better align sales and marketing? Do we have common/shared goals and metrics/KPIs to measure progress and align incentives? Is Sales pleased with the quantity and quality of leads and business development support from Marketing? Is Marketing satisfied with Sales’ ability to consistently represent the brand and deliver high levels of customer satisfaction? In short, I think the answers are mostly “No.”
- Sales Leadership – One of my favorite book titles is “What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith. While the message in this book is targeted to leaders overall, the title is quite germane to the typical first level sales leader who has been promoted on the basis of their performance as an (individual) sales rep. Have we made progress in onboarding new sales leaders? Have we enabled sales leaders to effectively coach their teams and tailor their feedback and advice to the individual seller and selling situation? Have we equipped them to run and manage the business of sales (e.g., pipeline management and forecasting)?
- Sales Force Capability – Have we raised the overall level of effectiveness of our selling organization in the past four years? Did we conduct “flavor of the month” sales training events? Are we living the promise of CRM/SFA tools and using them to not only to improve our forecast accuracy (corporate goal), but also to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the sales team (e.g., single version of the truth, ease of use, access to valuable content, etc.)? There has been significant talk of “provoking” and “challenging” customers – can our sales team bring something of value to each and every conversation?
As Warren Buffett once remarked in an annual letter to shareholders, why is it that we pause to reflect and measure progress in the time that it takes the earth to revolve around the sun (not to mention our obsession with public companies’ quarterly results)? Four years does give us time to reflect and start to assess the impact of new business and technology trends. As applied to your organization, are you better off?
Would welcome your comments.