“Management embarks on a strategy without considering the realities facing the people who must execute it with paying customers.”
To improve the odds of success with a new strategy, the sales force tasked with implementing it must be considered—perhaps even reinvented—to better deliver the right messages to the right buyers while balancing cost against effectiveness. What does it mean to be “reinvented”? That is the question we examined at the 2014 Chief Sales Executive Forum with seven keynote speakers, seven briefings, six breakout sessions and eight interactive roundtables. Six dimensions of reinvention were identified. What follows is a quick summary.
Multiple buyer segments must be served
Alexander Group’s 2014/15 Sales Pulse Survey told us that buyers are broken into three types, all of roughly equal size:
These three segments are defined not by what or how much is bought. They are defined by how products are evaluated. The sales organization has to be capable enough to cover all three segments.
Multiple sales motions are needed to do this
Sales forces may need to be reinvented to serve all three buyer segments well. To accomplish this a sales force must execute three distinct sales motions:
Sellers need messages that matter
What the seller says to resonate with these multiple buyer types cannot be taken for granted. In fact, many companies are building new processes, some housed in Marketing, some in Sales, to harvest insights into what innovative customers value and how they are using products and services. These insights are then packaged into playbooks and collateral that sellers will actually use to engage the interest and attention of other customers. These new processes harvest important intellectual capital and help scale it across the sales organization.
Success means building bridges to other functions
To harvest IP, design new motions and craft messages that matter (let alone the tools to deliver these messages), sales organizations are building new and more productive relationships with their partners in Marketing, Product Innovation and Service. The expertise to do this is frequently too scattered. New processes bring the right expertise into play and provide critical mass.
Take a fresh look at how to enable sellers
Top organizations are taking steps to streamline how sales tools/training are developed and delivered. Two pieces of advice resonate:
De-isolate the sales function—build a relationship with senior management
Don’t create so much distance between line sellers and top management that they are virtually disconnected from the company, the strategy, the mission. Top sales executives should have a meaningful relationship and regular dialog with the CEO and COO. Insights, advice and requests should move up and down the chain. Top executives should feel a connection with the sales organization and through them, the customer. And sellers should feel a connection with their company and their leadership.
Does reinvention work?
The numbers tell a story:
The numbers are strong, but 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. The best sales leadership is looking for ways to reinvent the sales function to take advantage of this change and better serve the customer every day.
Learn more about the findings from the 2014 CSE Reinvention Forum – sign up for your complimentary briefing today!