Want Growth? Invest in Sales.
Highlights from the 2011 Chief Sales Executive Forum
Over 100 Sales Leaders met last week to discuss the types of investments they are making in their sales organizations to drive revenue growth.
Michael Orrick, SVP at Thompson Reuters summed up the situation in our wrap up session – “We were so naïve back in 2007 and 2008. We were saying that the revenue was going to come back after the recession. I now see people are talking a lot more about selective opportunities. After that it’s really down to your investment and what you can expect in return.”
Even in these hard times, sales leaders are making big bets in their people, from more rigorous approaches to on-boarding, to creating roles to actively mentor and coach out in the field, to “taking the training wheels off” by pushing reps not to rely too heavily on specialist resources.
Sales leaders are also putting their ear to the ground to develop formalized programs to collaborate with their customers and push them to think outside the box. Kevin Warren, President of US Customer Operations at Xerox, shared their “Dreaming with the Customer” program, to get engineers and Xerox customers in the room to brainstorm ideas and solutions. As he put it, “Your competition is out there talking to customer too. They are offering the same solutions and then you are just competing on price.”
Customer expectations have increased. They won’t tolerate the “what keeps you up at night” approach to selling anymore. They want reps to act as experts and to be prepared to tell them what other people are doing to solve similar problems. For sales leaders, this translates into a need to develop strategic thinkers who are still able to execute and close deals.
By increasing the intellectual capital of the front line sales organization, Sales takes on more ownership of the customer relationship. Getting that intelligence back to the product development and marketing teams is seen as a key success factor and a critical competitive advantage.
Strategic thinking, more internal and external collaboration, increased use of social networking tools. The sales rep customers are looking for has to be prepared to act faster, do more with less, and be seen as the solution expert. Does your sales organization have what it takes to make the leap?
Published by Mary Catherine Plunkett