Page clearly identifies five “Ts” of transformation: Talent, Technique, Teamwork, Technology and Trust. These five elements, when fully developed and integrated into the sales and marketing organization, begin to create the habit of winning over customers in every industry. Stories of successes-and failures-from members of prominent companies help you apply the five “Ts” to your company's culture, and point the way to more effective plans for motivating employees, building and coaching winning teams, and improving hiring processes.
Then, with the use of Page's assessment scorecard, you can compare your company with some of the strategies and practices of the best sales forces in the world. Designed to gauge your organization's effectiveness and further develop breakthrough sales growth, this scorecard highlights your strengths and weaknesses, helping you bridge the gap between where you are and where you need to be.
You'll also learn about:
The “Deadly Dozen” (pains sales managers feel today) and how they can kill business
A ten-point process for identifying and hiring nothing less than “A” players
The 8 “ates” of managing strategic accounts and how they will maximize revenue and elevate relationships
How to identify and correct the six most common areas of poor individual sales performance
With Make Winning A Habit, you'll discover the obstacles between you and the consistent sales performance you can achieve-and find the tools to not only make success a habit, but one that will keep growing with your business.
A vision is important, but the last thing that we suggest you do is organize a committee and spend several months thrashing out a vision statement. It shouldn't be that hard.
Jeffrey Pfeffer of Stanford, in his excellent book, The Knowing-Doing Gap, describes mission statements as one of several substitutes for action, and they can be if you dwell on them too long. Lou Gerstner, when he took over IBM, shocked everyone when he stated, "The last thing we need right now is a vision statement." He knew that the company had to stop the bleeding first.
Bill Hybels, who has grown Willow Creek church into a megachurch near Chicago, says that "a vision is a picture of the future that produces passion."
When we work with sales organizations in this area, we simply ask them for descriptive statements about their organization as it is now and how they would like it to be three years from now from the point of view of (1) customers, (2) competitors, and (3) the sales force.
After talking about each one and eliminating some, the usual revelation is "Why not?" Good visions are usually achievable, but a stretch. The next step, of course, is to translate this into goals, objectives (which are measurable and date-driven), strategies, and, finally, action items and owners.
The greatest vision statement of the last century was John Kennedy's declaration in 1961 that the United States would have a man on the moon and back by the end of the decade. It happened on July 20, 1969.
The purpose of this book is to help you create a vision of what you could achieve by sharing best practices of other great sales organizations, as well as the process for making it happen and a process for making it stick.Buying Time for Change—Setting Management Expectations
Every sales executive is playing a game of "beat the clock." One of the important variables in your approach to improving sales effectiveness is the relationship between the sales leader and the CEO. If the board and the CEO recognize the depth of the sales problem, and you are a new hire, you need to set expectations that this will take one to two years for a full transformation. If you can't get that commitment, don't take the job. Of course, you will have to show progress along the way.
And you can't go in and fire everyone immediately. You have to fight the battleship while you fix it. But if you don't have a firm resolution and change things proactively, the organization can absorb you like a bullet into butter.
If, on the other hand, your company is a public company and the CEO is managing the company to the analysts' expectations, or if venture capitalists are involved, don't believe for a minute that you can avoid showing quarter-to-quarter improvement. When financial strategy drives sales strategy, the result is usually short-term thinking and sub-optimization of full sales potential. This is a reality of life.
When we were selling to PeopleSoft in 1998, we met with their executive team just as a period of rapid growth was beginning to slow.
While the meeting was about sales effectiveness, we gave them this warning: " Next year, you'll grow by 50 percent, but your stock price will fall in half. And there is nothing that you are willing to do about it." They were stunned.
The reason we could make such a bold prediction is that we had seen it many times in the software industry.
The previous year, they had grown by 80 percent, but competition had finally matched their technological advantage in their core products. But PeopleSoft had planned on an 80 percent growth again and had planned expenses accordingly.
So, as predicted, sales grew 50 percent, expenses grew 80 percent, profits took a hit; the stock fell hard.
Most companies would die to have a 50 percent growth in the coming year and would make a lot of money. But who in an organization is going to go in and tell the analysts that their growth is going to slow next year? The hit on the stock price was twice as hard as a surprise than it would have been earlier.
Letting the analysts set your sales goals is a prescription for new horizons on your career path.Setting Priorities
The executives we've worked with who have made dramatic improvements in sales effectiveness are able to prioritize the gaps in their performance and balance short-term quick-win initiatives with longer-term infrastructure changes.
Although sales improvement initiatives obviously can be conducted simultaneously rather than sequentially, in general, they approached their priorities in the same order.
You may choose priorities differently, but we share the experiences here of three successful executives who have achieved significant sales improvements as a benchmark.
Terry Turner is a veteran sales executive who has experienced changes in buying habits in three different industries—manufacturing, supply chain, and now, education. He is currently senior vice president, sales and marketing, for Harcourt Assessments.
«This was my third time transforming a sales force and each one has been different.
At Harcourt, the way the buyers buy in this industry had changed, but the sales force had not. Sales had been taking orders for existing clients on educational assessment tests and developing and informing clients about new products. The industry changed from sales to local school districts to highly competitive test adoptions for entire states — a much more complex sale for higher stakes.
In the initial assessment, we knew we needed to change the selling culture from product-driven to sales to customer-experience-driven. We were more focused on protecting turf and guarding silos than on winning or building relationships with clients.
As Jim Collins says in Good to Great, we had to get the right people on the bus or where we were going didn't matter. And we also had to get some people off the bus. I knew to start with sales management to have the most immediate impact. If I hired new salespeople who went to work for managers selling the old way, we would get nowhere.
I replaced most of the front-line managers with people I knew from my network who shared the same values, sales process, and hiring profile. People who are cynical or indifferent about change will kill your efforts with passive resistance or poor attitudes.
The second step was to change our sales messaging to more accurately convey our strengths, benefits, and differentiators rather than features.
The third step was to redefine our sales process to give everyone a playbook defining what a good sales effort looked like and what questions, information, and action items were needed in each phase. This training gave the reps a roadmap for managing a complex sale and the managers a common set of expectations for selling and coaching.
We also changed our team structure, roles, and responsibilities. We are blessed with outstanding products and people who have a great deal of expertise in educational testing. Many of them came from client backgrounds. Teaming them with professional salespeople to lead the team has allowed us to leverage our talents by getting the right people owning the right parts of the sales cycle.
The fourth step was to start redefining and reinforcing a new culture for selling and servicing customers and building relationships. This impacted every division of the company, so I needed upper management's support to handle the inevitable power struggles. We also turned over around a dozen reps out of about a hundred who were unable to change or grow.
In the next year, we will focus on improving the foundation selling skills of discovery, linkage, presentation, and objection handling. Now that we have the right people and the right strategies, next follows execution-level skills.
I initially set management expectations that it would take over a year to realize any progress. I gained influence and bought time with upper management when they saw the types of sales managers I brought in. Then, after the sales process training, we won several large deals where the new process was acknowledged to have played a significant part.
We are now focusing on the necessary coaching and metrics to make the process permanent.»
Another example of how managers set priorities to achieve dramatic sales improvement comes from Lexmark:
When I spoke at Lexmark in 2002, I could tell that Bruce Dahlgren, the vice president and general manager, understood sales performance and how to make it happen. He knew that the strategy of building an installed base of printers—and their related supplies—needed to be complemented by unique service and solution offerings. Simply put, they had to build more value.
Lexmark was previously the IBM printer division and had remnants of that culture. But Dahlgren changed the way the company sold with new people, new process, and new positioning for his solutions. And he reinforced it with coaching.
Rather than simply moving printers and ink, Dahlgren’s team focused on the larger strategy of “Print, Move, and Manage,” a spectrum of industry-focused solutions aimed at helping Lexmark customers address real printing and document process challenges. That meant more consultative selling and new roles for some people.
“Turnover had been at around 25 percent before, and we kept it there for a couple of years,” said Dahlgren.“But we were much more purposeful at bringing in a new profile of salesperson able and willing to sell solutions. Now the turnover rate is down to 3 percent.”
With the right people and processes in place, Dahlgren turned the attention of his management team to account strategy development and coaching.
“My managers had a challenge merely finding the time to coach,” Dahlgren said.“So I looked at their administrative workload and eliminated several reporting activities that weren’t really needed.We had to convince finance, but it freed up the time.The other thing we did was to designate every Monday as a coaching day in the office. Each manager reviews each major account and the action items for the week compared to our plan.
We also wanted to send the message that I actually read the forecasts and account plans. This let them know that our focus on coaching was not some half-hearted initiative they could ignore and hope would go away.”
“At Manhattan Associates, one of the things we’ve done right is that we have always had a mantra that ‘everyone is in sales.’ It’s in our DNA—to do whatever it takes to best address the needs of our customers and to continue to deliver ongoing value,”said Jeff Mitchell, executive vice president of Americas at Manhattan Associates, a leading supply-chain solutions provider based in Atlanta.
“When I began this job, other than cultivating a sales culture, my focus was probably on people first.We are a culture that believes in very strong processes, methodology, and a common language.
Now, we focus on business execution.We focus on lots of things in the beginning and middle of a sales cycle that you have to execute well in order to put you in a winning position on ‘game day.’
We do manage the sales process with technology. It’s important, but not one of our top three items. Instead, we focus first on our people and the domain expertise they provide to our customers; second is the value proposition our solutions provide; and third we focus on our management people who are here to ensure successful execution. Then we focus on leveraging technology to further improve and extend the capabilities and deliver for the above.