There are a lot of under-performing sales teams today. For good reason, senior executives are concerned about sales results and I’m hearing many good questions about appropriate sales talent, sales deployment, sales compensation, sales activity, sales skills. All fair game and stuff that we sales improvement guys love to take on.
But as I’ve pulled back the covers and recently dug deeper into sales performance in a variety of organizations, I see an alarming trend developing. The painful macro-economic climate and the rapid changes over the past few years in the IT and marketing world have left a lot of companies in a fog. There has been an almost seismic shift in the marketplace where many businesses compete. So, yes, individuals and sales teams are struggling to make quota. And, yes, some folks who succeeded in sales during better times are severely down now because they’ve been exposed for what they are – reactive order takers, not true new business development hunters. But that’s not what’s disturbing me because I’ve dealt successfully with that in the past.
The alarming trend I’m seeing is C-level management not ensuring that their companies have clear, well-defined and easily understood strategies.
The sales team’s job is not to create strategy. Sales job is to execute and explode the strategy that’s been given to them.
Our job as sales leaders is to make sure we have the right talent on our sales teams calling on the right target prospects. We are to equip our salespeople with the appropriate sales weapons and coach them to proficiency at using those weapons. We build sales plans that articulate our commitments to revenue, margin, pipeline and activity goals and we hold our people accountable to execute those plans. That’s our job.
By the time a company’s strategy is handed off to Sales it needs to be crystal clear: Markets are selected, offerings defined, differentiators and competitive advantages understood.
Lack of clarity is one of the greatest enemies to new business sales success. As I’ve been visiting with CEOs who are frustrated with sales results, what’s become apparent is that there are a lot of businesses in transition and playing catch-up to rapidly changing markets. Strategies are in flux and many sales teams aren’t super sure of what they’re selling or to whom their selling. And one thing I know for sure:
lack of focus + lack of clarity = NewSales failure
Let’s make sure we’re equipping the sales team to execute and win. I’m all for maximum accountability of the sales organization. But accountability runs both ways.