Selling the Connected Widget–Aligning Competencies and Metrics

By: John Stamos Digital Transformation, Manufacturing, Revenue Growth Strategy, Sales Productivity, Sales Talent

Earlier installments of this blog series discussed new buyers and buying processes associated with selling connected services in the traditional manufacturing space, as well as some of the differentiated roles needed to effectively capture these opportunities. Organizations need to ensure they have the proper management components as support elements–particularly competencies and metrics.

Review of Common Enterprise Sales Roles

Two distinctly different roles from the traditional manufacturing space are enterprise hunters–(responsible for landing new logos) and customer success managers or CSMs (responsible for ensuring adoption and expansion). To effectively identify and deploy these resources, manufacturers should strongly consider what makes these roles unique and successful.

Enterprise Hunter Competencies and Metrics

The skill set needed for enterprise hunter aligns more closely with those found in tech organizations than in manufacturing companies. To navigate the longer and more complex buying process, sellers must have strong business acumen to communicate the longer-term ROI of a solution. This is particularly important when working with a broad set of executive stakeholders.

Often times, manufacturing organizations will find their traditional sellers exhibit varying degrees of technical competency. In these scenarios, it may not necessarily be a requirement for success. For the software enterprise hunter, however, strong technical acumen is a necessity. Specifically, the enterprise hunter typically requires an understanding of the enterprise architecture: how the product integrates, communicates with other systems and adheres to security protocols.

Metrics to measure the performance of these sellers are different from the traditional account manager. Because of the aforementioned longer sales cycle, forward-looking diagnostic metrics become more important. Pipeline progression and milestones such as completed demos and executed trials can serve as leading indicators to gauge if the seller is tracking with the level of performance the organization expects.

Customer Success Manager Competencies and Metrics

If the software service is a subscription-based model, another common role is the customer success manager. While there are different valences to this role, ultimately CSMs are chartered with ensuring that customers are effectively and appropriately leveraging the technology. The overarching theme is strong account management capabilities. It is critical that candidates have strong relationship skills and problem-solving capabilities, involving sales representatives only as needed. Additionally, CSMs need to serve as advocates by ensuring the customer adopts and uses the solution and is thereby realizing ROI. To that end, the CSM must understand and communicate the impact and value of the solution.

With very specific charter, metrics become intuitive. Penetrating accounts through adoption and expansion, a strong proxy for success would be usage metrics such monthly recurring revenue churn, expansion monthly recurring revenue. More specific metrics might be the usage of specific functionality if it serves as a proxy for strategic growth objectives or drives the stickiness of the product. Ultimately, a strong indicator of CSM performance is the customer satisfaction: net promotor score (NPS). This is particularly important for CSMs with limited focus on expansion responsibilities.

Establishing the appropriate competencies and metrics is fundamental to focus sellers. Watch for part 4 of this series which will detail the critical management levers to enable and motivate sellers: appropriate quota setting and motivating sales compensation plans.

Do you need to take a closer look at aligning competencies and metrics at your organization? Contact the experts at Alexander Group to help you navigate this challenge.

Co-author: Priya Ghatnekar is a director in Alexander Group’s Chicago office.

Read other installments in this series:
Part 1
Part 2
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John Stamos

John Stamos is a manager in the Chicago office. John has experience working with companies in a variety of industries including manufacturing, high-tech, insurance and consumer packaged goods. His most recent engagements include a complete go-to-market strategy assessment, full-scale enterprise program design, job roles and competency model design, and detailed territory alignment.


Prior to joining the Alexander Group, John was a product marketing manager for Cognex Corporation where he conducted market analysis for international serialization initiatives in the pharmaceutical industry and oversaw the development of its configuration software. Prior to this role, John had territory account responsibility at Cognex, selling automation solutions to assist in the quality control and traceability in various industries including pharmaceutical, food and beverage packaging, automotive manufacturing, electronic component assembly and retail logistics. John has nine years of direct sales and distribution management experience.


John holds an MBA from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business, and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering & French from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


 


Priya Ghatnekar

Priya Ghatnekar is a director in the Chicago office. Priya has experience working with clients across multiple industries, including manufacturing, high tech and financial services. Priya has worked on a variety of project types including revenue motions; sales coverage; job design; and multiple large, global sales compensation engagements. One recent engagement had her overseeing the execution of a sales transformation roadmap across three European and North American divisions.


Prior to joining the Alexander Group, Priya was an analyst at Towers Watson’s Investment Services group. She focused on defined contribution and defined benefit plans. She was responsible for developing and monitoring investment programs. Priya has also worked at both The Marco Consulting Group and EnnisKnupp & Associates. Priya holds a B.A. from The George Washington University and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University.


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