In Part 1, Alexander Group identified eight principles that top companies and their sales leaders used to reinvent their approach to customer coverage.
PRINCIPLE 1: You serve diverse buyer segments … act like it
PRINCIPLE 2: Serve different segments with different sales motions
PRINCIPLE 3: Deliver sales messages that matter
PRINCIPLE 4: Focus scarce investment dollars for maximum return
PRINCIPLE 5: Position your sellers to deliver impact
PRINCIPLE 6: Ask sellers what they need
PRINCIPLE 7: De-isolate the sales function
PRINCIPLE 8: Always be learning
In this article, Alexander Group will discuss details on the last two principles of reinvention.
Principle 7 – De-isolate the Sales Function
With the sales function gaining recognition as a strategic asset, sales leaders should be engaging with top company leaders on a more regular and interactive basis. Specifically, sales leadership should contribute to both strategic decisions and to discussions on how best to implement them. The leadership teams at top companies (including Sales leaders) know that effective strategy implementation requires that management does consider the “realities” of the sellers on the ground with customers. Consider the following examples:
In many organizations the sales function is in a unique position to play this integrative role. It is the one function that understands both the product line and the customer, and its voice is becoming a necessary part of designing and executing successful growth strategy.
Principle 8 – Always Be Learning
Customers are the core source of insight regarding value for companies that are willing to listen. At the 2015 Forum we learned how some companies maximize their learning by introducing tools and processes that compel marketing and sales to partner with each other and with customers. Noted below are some of the ways in which this is done:
The tools at the heart of the intersection between customers, marketing and sales bring all three parties together. The corporate Center of Excellence provides customers, sales, marketing and top executives with a venue to learn about current strengths and capabilities. Facilitated brainstorming sessions enable Customers, Marketing, Sales and Innovation executives to speak openly of future strategies, challenges and ways they could work together.
Other tools (such as Customer Panels and marketer/seller “ride withs”) foster connections between Marketing and the customer or between Marketing and Sales. Consider some examples:
Customer insights are there for companies and for sellers that choose to pursue them. This requires a thirst for learning and a willingness to collaborate. The common denominator among the examples noted here is that each of these companies has carefully created and nurtured a learning culture.
Does sales force reinvention work?
The numbers tell a story:
The numbers are compelling, but they are only a start. Each of the above companies would say the same thing: Reinvention is not an event; it is a process. Change is a constant among customers, products and competition. Sales leadership is at its best when it finds ways to take advantage of these changes and to better serve its customers. Sales force reinvention is not about revolution. Rather, it is a constant series of small changes, inspired by the customer, that enable the sales force to deliver more value and greater differentiation.