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.
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.
For example, before we built our sales and marketing and implementation tools, we focused on raising our value proposition to a more strategic level. You have to ask the right questions first and really understand the business problems trying to be solved. Once you get all of the questions, the tools are the easy part.
Before, the sales reps just had to get the solution consultant to the presentation. Now the sales reps do so much more in the discovery phase—leading up to the presentation— to ensure that everyone is ready for game day. The scope of our offering is such now that one solution consultant can’t be expected to bring 100 percent of the domain expertise to the table single-handedly. So much of the strategy for success and overall coordination happens before the demo.
As far as coaching is concerned, we prioritize it. Most of our people have the expertise and can coach a deal, but doing it day in and day out has to be part of your culture.”Eight Steps to Sales Transformation
1. Assessment—Where Are We Now?
There are two approaches to assessing benchmark strengths and weaknesses. You can use experience and intuition, or you can do a more formal assessment. Or, depending on the amount of time you have, you can do both.
Some weaknesses are immediately obvious to a new manager, and you can begin taking action right away. Sometimes, however, when you have been there a while, the real weaknesses in a sales force may be harder to detect. I’ve been in evaluations where it was obvious that the management had a gut feel for what they needed but really didn’t know because they hadn’t measured it.
This book should help you with an overall organizational assessment scorecard. Assessing individual sales rep talent can’t really be done effectively until you have defined your ideal sales cycle and the skills and competencies that this demands.
The quickest and most effective way to start is with a win/loss analysis by an outside third party. This will give you the quickest feedback on why you are winning or losing and where your fastest returns for improvement lie. All this can and should be completed within 90 days to determine your initial priorities.
2. Start with People—Managers First
To put it simply and starkly: If you don’t get the people process right, you will never fulfill the promise of your business.Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, in Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done
Front-line sales managers are the key to any sales initiative. Most managers fail because they stick with poor performers too long. Without sales managers who share your vision and values and who can and will reinforce your process, new hires will be like pouring water into a leaky bucket.
Most successful sales executives have a following of loyal lieutenants whom they can call on in these situations. For those who have burned their bridges, this takes a while longer.
Once front-line managers have defined a new hiring profile for reps, they can begin upgrading the talent, replacing those who can’t or won’t change.
3. Next Is Your Sales Process
If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.W. Edwards Deming (1900–1993), Father of Total Quality Management
Third-party methodology vendors can give you a jumpstart in this area, but the outcome should be your own unique best-practice sales cycle for your company and your industry. Your sales technique should include the concepts from the methodology and form the basis of your training effort.
Defining your sales technique also will secure buy-in from your sales managers because it is their own work. The entire coaching discipline hinges on their reinforcement. It should be in both their performance review and comp plan, or you will get no more than a passive effort.
This can become a huge overkill project if you let it. It should be done in less than a week.
4. Positioning—What Do We Say About Us?
Would you persuade, speak of interests, not reason.Benjamin Franklin, «Poor Richard’s Almanac»
As outsiders, when we review sales messaging, we often find unfocused “me too” messages that sound exactly like the competition. Too many features, too few benefits, lack of focus on solutions for buyers, and poor differentiation — all delivered in brochure format to the sales force.
An objective, and often brutal, evaluation of your techniques in this area usually is needed to make sure that you are not “eating your own dog food.” The vice president of marketing’s buy-in here is essential to avoid defense and denial.
5. Creating a Winning Sales Culture — Align the Infrastructure
Priorities in this area include alignment of the new sales process with the rest of the sales and marketing infrastructure.
Unless compensation, rewards, roles and responsibilities, support, and policies are aligned with the new selling process, you will simply increase frustration by training salespeople to sell one way while the rest of the organizational systems incent them to act a different way.
Sometimes your new process may drive new roles for some people. These must be defined clearly and sold internally. Finally, the whole organization needs to support a selling culture as one team. This is where the support of the CEO is not an option.
6. Execution—Level Selling Skills
Some sales managers prefer to address individual selling skills first and then move to competitive strategy. Others prefer to make sure that they are selling to the right accounts and the right people before they focus on developing the skills necessary to create individual preference. Many companies have used two different vendors simultaneously to address these competencies.
These individual-level skills include discovery, listening, probing, linking solutions to pains, vision creation, presentation and writing skills, objection handling, time management, and negotiating, among others. Who needs and who gets this type of skills training should come from the performance review, which should come from your ideal sales cycle. The application of the skills should fall out of your sales strategy for that account. The result is more realistic strategy-based execution skills training rather than generic classes.
Using a single vendor allows a completely integrated strategy and training approach. Whatever the priority, though, both skills and strategy are needed to identify the key decision makers and win their hearts.
7. People and Process First — Then Automate