Speakers: Bal Dail | SBI

Is your sales team going to deliver on the revenue objectives next year?

 

When I ask this question to CEO’s, I hear, “If they execute my strategy they will.” But how can you be sure the sales team understands your corporate strategy, and connect it to their sales strategy?

 

This podcast is an interview with Bal Dail, the Chairman and CEO of JDA Software, the provider of the broadest portfolio of supply chain solutions.

 

During this interview, Bal discusses:

 

  • His opinion on why very few CEOs have come up through sales and the problem this causes when trying to make your number.
  • A definition of the term “strategic alignment” and why it is critical to your success.
  • Ways upon which a CEO can:
    • Drive market research output into sales strategy.
    • Educate the sales team on the markets to compete in, the accounts to sell to, the buyers to meet with, the products to position, and the competitors to beat.
    • Make sure the leaders of product, marketing, sales, and HR are working off of one integrated and aligned strategy.

 

Bal and I use SBI’s recently released workbook titled, “How to Make Your Number in 2016” to guide our conversation.  Specifically, pages 51-70, which details SBI’s 8 Step Corporate Strategy Methodology.

 

I walk Bal through the model, and he explains how he uses his version at JDA Software.  The benefit to you is that you get to see a “demo,” if you will, on how to use this tool. At the end of this show, if you want to use the SBI Workbook yourself, I let you know how to get it.

 

If you want to make sure the sales team delivers on the revenue goals next year, listen to the podcast to hear how one of your peers has done so.

Transcript

 

Speaker 1: Welcome to the SBI Podcast, offering CEOs, sales and marketing leaders ideas to make the number.

 

Greg: Good morning, good afternoon, good evening everybody. This is Greg Alexander, CEO of SBI, a B2B sales and marketing consulting firm dedicated to helping you make your number. You are listening to the weekly SBI Podcast Series, and today we have a great guest. We have Bal Dail. He is the Chairman and CEO of JDA Software. JDA offers the broadest portfolio of supply chain and retail merchandising store operations and all-channel commerce solutions to help companies manage the flow of goods from raw materials to finished products and into the hands of consumers. The company is privately held, but according to industry analysts they employ approximately five thousand people and do around one billion in annual sales.

 

Bal started his career as a partner at McKinsey & Company. Then he became the CEO of Aon Hewitt, and after that became the Managing Director of New Mountain Capital, which was a private equity investment firm. That’s a little bit about Bal and his credentials. Bal, welcome to the show.

 

Bal: Nice to be here, Greg.

 

Greg: Today’s topic is connecting the CEO’s corporate strategy to the sales leader’s sales strategy, which is something that many of our clients are trying to do right now, and I thought your perspective from the CEO’s seat would be helpful here. Bal, would it surprise you to learn that only two of the Fortune 100 CEOs made it to the corner office from the sales leaders chair?

 

Bal: It doesn’t surprise me, but I would say it’d be interesting to run that same stat for a software company.

 

Greg: Yeah. In fact, the only two happen to be in technology, so Chuck Robbins of Cisco Systems, who just got a spot, and Mark Hurd of Oracle, which just became co-CEO, so maybe there’s a trend there in tech.

 

Bal: Yeah. I’m actually pretty unique in tech that I’m not somebody who came through with the traditional sales background within a software company, but a lot of other tech companies we come across, it tends to be folks from a sales background. Maybe it’s just unique to technology as opposed to other industries.

 

Greg: Yeah. The analysis we did here was Fortune 100 also, which is probably a different sample size, but within that group sixty-three percent of them came from finance, general management, or engineering, and just within that group, statistically it’s just as likely to become CEO from the seat of a publisher, insurance man, or an entertainer as it is as a sales leader, which is pretty startling. Why do you think sales leaders sitting in the CEO office is such a rare thing?

 

Bal: I think it’s interesting. If you think about Fortune 100, some of those companies are B2B and some are B2C. I think in a B2C company, typically there are other functions that take a more prominent role. I’m not saying that’s wrong or right, but like marketing obviously takes a prominent role in a B2C company. If it’s more product related, then the folks in the product function take on a broader role. Typically, and obviously, finance always plays a pretty strong role in a lot of these companies.

 

I think B2B, it’s a little different, but again, the reason we were talking about the technology companies, I think sales in technology companies just seems to be somewhat of a unique animal. That’s why I think you tend to see more in technology the sales leaders progressing up the firm.

 

Greg: I’m going to have my team run the analysis on a broader population size. Within tech, we normally see three types of CEOs. We see the technologist, which is usually the founder who grows the company himself. We see the finance person, which is usually earlier-stage where the core requirement there is to raise capital. Then the third type of CEO in tech that we see is that sales and marketing leader. I’m going to run analysis across a broader group.

 

Why am I bothering everybody with this? The reason I start with this interesting fact is today’s topic is aligning the CEO’s corporate strategy with the sales leader’s sales strategy. Why should anyone care about this? What we have found in our work is that when the CEO and the sales leader are on the same page, the revenue and even the objectives usually get made every year, and when they’re not on the same page, the revenue and profit objective usually get missed more than they get made. I submit one of the reasons this is is because the sales leader and the CEO tend to be misaligned at times, and the cause of that at times is because there’s so few CEOs who were sales leaders, and obviously the true is in reverse.

 

The question is what to do about it, and that’s what we’re going to spend our time with Bal on. I’m going to walk him through a methodology here that’s going to go top-down and bottoms-up and get his perspective on it. Stick around after the break. We’re going to talk to Bal about how to get the CEO and the sales strategy on the same page. If you’re enjoying this podcast, you’re going to love SBI TV, our monthly television program. Here’s some information on SBI TV.

 

Speaker 4: Tired of watching highlights from a meaningless game on Sports Center? Tired of watching a stock ticker on CNBC talk about a company you don’t care about? Introducing SBI TV, a monthly web TV show focused on what you do care about: making the number. Broadcast on the internet, the show features people just like you, sales and marketing leaders trying to grow their revenues. Watch your peers as they discuss their behind-the-scenes strategies for making the number. Finally, a TV show for busy executives that won’t bore you to death. Go to salesbenchmarkindex.com/tv or go to YouTube and search for “sales benchmark index” to subscribe.

 

Greg: Welcome back everybody. This is Greg Alexander, CEO of SBI, a sales and marketing consulting firm dedicated to helping you make your number. I am talking with Bal, the CEO of JDA Software. Right before the break we were discussing what happens when revenue targets get missed, and one of the causes, I should say, is when the corporate strategy and the sales strategy are not in alignment. I want to dive into this subject with more detail. Let’s use a simple framework to shape our discussion here.

 

For the purpose of a short podcast, strategic alignment can be summarized as follows. Normally there’s some type of market research that says here are the markets that we’re in and how we’re going to compete, et cetera. That informs a corporate strategy which allocates people, money, and time against the opportunities in the market, which then gets cascaded to a product roadmap, which then gets cascaded to a marketing strategy which is focused on driving demand for these products. Then we land on the sales strategy, which has to turn that demand into revenue. Then, of course, underlying all of that is talent strategy, so how to build a team capable of accomplishing those previous things.

 

As you can see with this overly simplified explanation, there sits a lot between the CEO and the sales leader: market knowledge, corporate strategy, products, marketing, talent, et cetera. Bal, let me ask you some specific questions regarding this, and maybe you can help educate our customers on this, and our audience. How should a CEO drive the output of market research into the sales strategy?

 

Bal: I can explain a bit about how we do it in JDA. It’s really through a series of what we call interlocks. Our business, as you said, we do everything related to supply chain, but essentially there’s two business units. There’s a software business, which we call Global Industries and Solutions, and then there’s a professional services business unit. Then there’s sales. What we do is a lot of the market research is done in that software business unit. They’re out there and they’re looking across the three industries we serve, retail, manufacturing, and third-party logistics, really trying to understand how those industries are changing, the implications on their supply chain, and therefore opportunities for us.

 

They pull that together, and then what we do is an interlock between the software group, the consulting group, and the sales group. It’s not like sales is at the bottom of the queue. They all are together, and what we have to do is align by geography. What are we going to sell in the geography? Then, what services are we going to have in that geography? Are we going to provide the services or is a partner going to provide the services? Everybody has to agree that that’s the plan that we’re going to execute against. Sales is right at the table with the other two business units as we decide that.

 

Greg: That’s different than we normally see it. I love it. Sometimes, unfortunately, the sales leader doesn’t get a seat at the strategy table. He’s just handed the strategy and says, “Go hit this number.” The benefits of that are obvious. I’m just thinking through this a little bit. Then, the contribution that the sales leader makes in that conversation is what? If they’re not the receiver of the input down the queue, so to speak, I’m assuming that they’re actively contributing I guess to the market intelligence you’re gathering. Is that the correct assumption?

 

Bal: Yeah. If you think about, if we say, “In this given geography, we think there’s going to be demand for transportation management systems, warehouse management systems, and workforce management systems, so that’s three of the solutions that we provide,” the professional services folks can say, “Well, that’s great. I can support the transportation management solution and the warehouse management, but I can’t support the workforce management, so we’re going to need a partner for the workforce management.” What the sales leader brings is, “Okay, in those three geographies … ” First of all, do they agree that the demand is there or not? Are they hearing from the customers what we found out in the market research?

 

Secondly, they bring along, “Do I have the resources to be able to do that?” It’s not just [inaudible 00:11:00] reps, it’s pre-sales, it’s “Do we have pre-sales folks who can speak that language and actually have a background in transportation management or warehouse management and workforce management?” They can bring a knowledge where they say, “Look, for the workforce management, a customer’s not going to agree to buy the solution unless we’re providing the services. They won’t agree that a partner should do it.” It’s bringing that sort of on-the-ground intelligence, because they walk in the halls of all these customers. Because the market research is great, but at the end of the day, it becomes real at the coalface, which is in the customer, and understanding, “Will the customer buy or not buy?”

 

Having the three of them together in this interlock process … and it’s iterative. It’s not like they just do it once, it’s iterative. What the output of that is we come out and we say, “In a given country, these are the solutions we’re going to sell,” and sales commits to hitting those numbers, and the services group says, “And we will provide services to support that or we’ll get partners to support that,” and so you get alignment across the three.

 

Greg: Let me pick on that a little bit. Some CEOs that I would talk to, if I said to them … and I’ll use your use case here. Let’s pick off, I don’t know, transportation services. If I turn to the sales leader and say, “Does demand exist in this geography in a set of accounts with transportation services?” a lot of the CEOs I talk to wouldn’t trust the sales leader with an accurate answer there. They don’t believe that they know, and they don’t believe that they could collect the information. This is the reason why they go out and hire third-party market research firms to try to figure that out, especially when they’re thinking about investing new R&D dollars into new product. Yet you feel that your sales team has a pulse of the market, can actually validate or invalidate the market research work. That’s a different twist. What gives you the confidence that they actually know?

 

Bal: I would just change it slightly, which is they are one input into the process. It’s not like if the sales guys say, “Oh, we’re not going to be able to sell TMS in a given country,” we simply turn around and say, “Oh, okay. You’re right. We’re done.” They are one input into the process, because then the folks who are on the product side will say, “Well, wait a minute, here’s the market research. By the way, we tested this with a couple of customers. We actually think there’s demand for TMS.” At the same time, having the services folks at the table is important because supply chain is complicated. You don’t tend to install a plain [banana 00:13:40]. Having services there where services can say, “Well, that’s great … ”

 

The software folks believe there’s a demand there from the market research, the sales guys are sitting there going, “Yeah, absolutely, we can sell it,” when the services guy is sitting there going, “Well, that’s great, but we can’t service it, and there’s no partners in the country that can actually do it that speak the local language.” Then it’s not worth doing, because you’re going to end up with a failed project. It’s really having all three of them provide input and gaining alignment across all three.

 

Greg: The sales leader, and again I’m going to play devil’s [advocater 00:14:12] just to make the show informative and entertaining for our audience, so the sales leader says, “Yes, there’s a demand for warehouse management, but we’re not going to be able to win the business because the product stinks or the pricing is too high or our service track record isn’t where it needs to be. I don’t really care that there’s demand, I can’t win, so until you fix all those other things, don’t give me the number for it.”

 

Bal: At the end of the day, if you’re a sales person, it’s easy to blame the product and it’s easy to blame services. That’s the reason why we have them all in the room together. At the end of the day, we say, “Look, we ultimately have to grow the business.” If the sales leader turns around and says, “I can’t sell warehouse management because the product stinks,” the product folks will turn up and say, “Well, hey, by the way, just want to let you know, all the industry analysts, so the Gartners, the IDCs, et cetera, they actually ranked out product really high.” In fact, Gartner does actually rank our products pretty high.

 

You would have then that discussion, which is, “So why are you saying this product isn’t going to work in this market? Because clearly we have external validation that it works, we have many other customers in other parts of the world that use it, so why [inaudible 00:15:32]?” It’s the debate. You want to have them discuss it. The sales person might be right. They might say, “Well, look, you know, I hear all of that, but, by the way, you’re selling it into Latin America, and we don’t support Portuguese.” Let’s say that was an example, then that may be a legitimate thing. It’s the discussion between the three of them that’s important. Then, obviously we have finance in there and myself to make sure that we’re all driving to an answer.

 

The benefit of doing it this way is sales isn’t just getting handed something where they say, “Hey, we’ve done all the corporate strategy [inaudible 00:16:09], we’ve done the market research, we’ve done the product roadmap, marketing’s done their thing. Hey, here you go.” They’re at the table. By the way, in those interlock discussions we also have marketing in there, because marketing then needs to say, “Yeah, we think we can generate demand in that country for these three set of products,” or they can turn around and say, “No, we don’t think we’re going to be able do that.”

 

Greg: I was just going to ask about that. Let’s bring marketing into the equation here. Based on what you just told me, you put marketing at that same table?

 

Bal: Yes. It starts with my leadership team. We get aligned on these. A lot of my leadership team are in these interlock sessions. We do these interlock sessions by region, because what we ultimately have to come out with, obviously we have to come out with a budget, but what you want to come out with is something that says, “In these geographies, this is what we’re going to actually go sell, and in order to do that, we have the right product, services can actually deliver it or we’re working with a partner to deliver it.” Sales says, “Yes, I can hit that,” and marketing’s saying, “Yes, I can create the demand generation.”

 

Obviously, it varies by country. In something like the United States, we’re going to be able to sell a broad range of products because it’s a more mature market, it’s a more sophisticated market from a supply chain perspective, and our products have supported the US market for a long time. You might get into some countries where you say, “You know what? We’ll probably want to skinny down the set of products we’re selling into that country,” because some countries just aren’t as sophisticated from their supply chain or there may be local nuances that we think that our product’s not going to support well.

 

Greg: Then, inevitably, you have finance in the room, so everybody starts saying, “Yes, I can do that, if you give me the following resources.” Then we get into the horse trading exercise around budgets and head count. How does all that shake out in your environment?

 

Bal: The way we’ve done this is … it’s actually quite interesting, because finance is on the end of it. What we first of all do is we give out guidance and say, “Look, at a corporate level, we need to be in this range in terms of revenue and EBDA.” We go through the series of interlock sessions, and then after the teams have aligned on what they can sell by region, et cetera, then we have the discussion with corporate, myself, and finance to talk about, “Okay, where the teams came out, does it fit with what we’re trying to doing corporately?”

 

Frankly, in some instances we’ve gone back to the teams and said, “No, you need to push harder.” In a couple of instances, if it’s [inaudible 00:18:56] geography or something, we’ve said, “No, actually, you should haircut your number, because we don’t think you’re going to get there.” Ultimately, all that’s got to roll up into a number that is a number that our investors are going to feel comfortable with. That’s why I said it’s an intricate process. It’s important getting the business units, sales, and marketing interlocked and agreeing on what can happen. Obviously, that’s then reviewed with corporate, and then what we have to do is push the teams appropriately to either push harder in a certain place, or say, “Look, we don’t think that’s going to happen.”

 

Then also, as you said, we’ve got to think through resource allocation. If we say we’re going to sell these three products in a given country, and services says, “Well, we’re going to need to stack up resources,” there’s a discussion around that. Because there are certain countries, for instance, where we might say, “Given local labor laws or given something else, we’re better off using a partner in that country than trying to staff it ourselves.”

 

Greg: We’re going to take a quick break here, and when we come back I want to talk about injecting the voice of the customer and competitive intelligence into this conversation, which is a very rich conversation around getting not just the CEO and sales leader on the same page, but all of the key stakeholders inside of a company on the same page during the annual planning process. I want to draw the audience’s attention to the new edition of the SBI Magazine. I’d suggest that you subscribe to it. We have profiles with CEOs, sales leaders, marketing leaders, et cetera, sharing their best practices, much like the one you’re hearing about today. If you’re not subscribed to the SBI Magazine, here’s how to do so.

 

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Greg: Welcome back, everybody. This is Greg Alexander, CEO of SBI. You’re listening to the SBI Podcast. Today we have Bal Dail, the CEO of JDA Software, and we’re talking about his interlocking process, which is what enables him to keep everybody in strategic alignment. Before the break we talked about how he puts his business unit leaders both from software and professional services at the table as well as the functional leaders, people from product marketing, HR, finance, sales, et cetera. His approach, which is an iterative approach versus a linear approach, is making a lot of sense to me, and I want to keep exploring that because I think this audience would benefit from incorporating some of these things.

 

Up to this point, we haven’t spoken about the voice of the customer and making sure that that customer is represented by somebody at that strategic planning table. How do you do that?

 

Bal: We have multiple forums where we get customer input. We have a voice of the customer survey that we push out there, and myself and the leadership team literally spend days going through the voice of the customer survey. The entire senior leadership team and a level down review the voice of the customer survey, and actually from that we have a whole group that then drives initiatives. Essentially any concerns the customers have, we have initiatives around addressing those. We have a voice of the customer survey is one set of input. We then have what we call our special interest groups, or SIGs, and those special interest groups are aligned by product. They give us a lot of information around feature functions and things that need to be embedded into the product. That comes up through the product channel and then the product roadmaps.

 

We also then have our focus customer event. We have one in North America and then one in Europe. There again we bring customers in and we have one-on-one sessions with customers. We also have sessions with our customers and our special interest groups, again to get more customer input. Then finally we have a customer advisory board, which is made up of eighteen to twenty senior executives across the three industries we serve, so retail, manufacturing, and third-party logistics. We pull that group together two to three times a year, and they give us more of a strategic sense of what’s happening in their industries, the implications on supply chain, and then really what we as JDA should be doing to respond to that. We have multiple different places where we’re getting customer input. Then, obviously, beyond the normal, we’re all out in the field talking to customers all the time.

 

Each one of us who’s down in that interlock process has already got a lot of rich customer information. If it’s the software folks, they’re going to get through the special interest groups, and it defines what needs to happen in the product. They get it through the voice of the customer survey, the focus discussions, et cetera. Similarly, the folks in services, they’ll review the voice of the customer survey, try and understand from a services perspective if there’s something they should be doing differently. Similarly sales, because sometimes the voice of the customer survey might highlight the fact that there was a bit of a disconnect between what sales was selling and what was actually going to get delivered. Similarly, marketing uses that to try and understand how they should shape their marketing to improve the demand generation.

 

Then obviously [inaudible 00:24:38], myself, and the whole senior team have gone through all of this.

 

As we start thinking about what we’re going to do by country in terms of products and services and how that rolls up into the budget, the customer is very much at the core of that because we’ve had so much customer input into the system.

 

Greg: That is a lot of customer input, and congratulations for collecting all of that in its various forms and ways and injecting that into the process, which is great. That’s the reason why I asked that question, is that I don’t think many companies are doing it as robustly as you are. Most importantly, it’s one thing to do it, and it’s another thing to use it, and you’re driving it into this interlocking process, which is great.

 

We just spoke about customers, and sometimes we use that term to encapsulate all buyers, but there’s a difference between an existing customer and somebody who hasn’t bought from you before, which we call a prospect. Are you lumping those two things into the voice of the customer category, or are you separating out prospect data?

 

Bal: The voice of the customer survey goes to existing customers, and about eighty percent of what we do is from existing customers. That’s obviously a pretty important group to us. We then also have a set of accounts where we may have low penetration but we think they could be very, very good accounts for us. That’s typically driven by our business development function, working with marketing to try and penetrate those accounts, and then once we’re in the account that’s when we’ll then assign a customer executive, and as the account grows we’ll assign an executive sponsor as well.

 

Greg: With eighty percent of the revenue coming from existing customers, which, given how long your company’s been around and how mature your industry is, that makes a lot of sense to me. When you’re doing these surveys and all of the different types of customer listening that you’re doing, I just want to point out to the audience that it’s critical that you don’t just go speak to the same people all the time. If the strategy is land and expand, then you’ve got to go wide in your accounts and solve multiple problems for your customers in order to grow, and we’ve got to be listening to these buying centers that maybe haven’t bought from us or haven’t bought all of our products just yet.

 

We’re going to take a quick break here. I want to draw the audience’s attention to the SBI blog. If you’re enjoying this podcast but you like your content in shorter, bite-sized chunks, we publish a blog every single day, three hundred and sixty-five days a year. It’s designed where it can be read in five minutes or less off your mobile device. If you want sales and marketing best practices dripped to you that way, then subscribe to the blog. Here’s some information on SBI’s blog.

 

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Greg: Welcome back, everybody. This is Greg Alexander, CEO of SBI, and this is the SBI Weekly Podcast Series. Today I’m talking to Bal Dail, who is the CEO of JDA Software, and we’re talking about the strategic planning process and getting into strategic alignment and what Bal calls the interlocking process, so that all of the functional leaders and business unit leaders are pursuing profitable growth in the same way. Right before the break we were talking about JDA’s robust customer listening process. I want to shift our conversation now to competitor analysis. In your market, there’s a relatively speaking small number of competitors all going after the same budget dollar. How do you study your competitors?

 

Bal: A couple of different ways. From a product perspective, our product management group working with product development spend a lot of time analyzing from a product perspective where are strengths and where are our weaknesses. We obviously work a lot with the analysts who cover the space, so the Gartners, the IDCs of the world. We get that from a product perspective. Clearly, from all the customer interactions we’re getting, so voice of the customer, the focus discussions, customer advisory board, our special interest groups, we’re getting information from them around, again, what’s the strength of our products and where are their potential weaknesses? That comes into the mix as well.

 

Then marketing does a lot of analysis around obviously how to position JDA in the marketplace relative to our customers. That’s broadly speaking where we do all the competitive analysis. Then obviously as we go through our interlock process, product is involved in the interlock process, marketing’s involved in the interlock process, so as we think about what we’re going to do in a given part of the world, that gets added into the mix as well.

 

Greg: Interesting. When you collect this competitive information, whether it’s from analyst sources or in-the-field information, market research, et cetera, specific to the sales strategy … which I know you’re thinking about this more broadly, but our audience is really focused on sales strategy heading into 2016 right now … how do you drive that different competitive intel into the sales program? The sales leader there has to respond to competitive responses. Is there a formal way of doing that, or does that just happen every day organically?

 

Bal: A lot of what we’re trying to do through marketing is sales enablement. As we develop a point of view of how our products, and services frankly, are working against the competition, marketing drives enablement of the field, so whether it’s collateral, whether it’s WebExes. For instance, every time we release a new product or we have a new release of a product, product management will have multiple WebExes where sales leaders can dial in, the reps can dial in, pre-sales obviously gets involved, so that everybody understands how this product has been improved vis-à-vis the competition. There’s multiple different ways that we drive sales enablement, because it can’t just be the “Let’s send out an e-mail” or “Hey, let’s post something to the internal website with ‘here’s the latest features of the product,’” because different people internalize information in different ways, so we try and have multiple different ways in which we push information or have information pulled from the sales force.

 

Greg: Very good. I’m talking to Bal Dail, who is the CEO of JDA Software. We’re talking about keeping everybody in strategic alignment in pursuit of profitable growth. At JDA they call that the interlocking process, and it’s a very robust, well-run process. When this airs, Bal, it’s going to be late Q3, early Q4. Both the CEO, the board, the functional leaders are going to be in their conversations about planning for the new year, and those conversations happen in a variety of different ways. They want to assimilate lots of what you talked about today and put themselves in the best position for success heading into the new year. If you were to speak directly to them and maybe give them your two or three most impactful tips on how to execute the annual planning process, what would they be?

 

Bal: I think, first of all, making it as inclusive as possible. Our interlock process, as we said at the beginning, it isn’t just the business units deciding what’s going to happen and then pushing that out to everybody else. It’s having everybody at the table and then aligning them. It’s an iterative process, it does take a fair amount of work, but at least then everybody’s aligned on, “Yes, that’s the budget, and we feel good about hitting the budget.” The first thing is making sure that it’s inclusive and, as you said at the beginning, it’s not like there’s a linear process and then sales in handed the number. Everybody’s at the table discussing how we’re actually going to drive to what we want to hit in 2016 and beyond. The first is making it inclusive.

 

The second thing is making sure it’s very fact-based and not anecdotal. I think that’s one of the things we’ve worked really hard on in JDA in the last year or eighteen months, because people will turn up with anecdotes and, “Oh, I saw this other customer, I heard this other customer, and that’s why x, y, and z can’t happen.” We’ve tried to change it to very much a fact-based discussion to say, “Well, here’s the data, now let’s have the discussion around the implications of that data.” First is being inclusive, second is making it very fact-based.

 

Then, third is making sure you execute and drive to an answer, because one of the reasons why people have a linear process is because it’s easier to execute. You start at the beginning with the market research, and then you go through the various different phases, and you end up with, “Hey, sales, here’s the numbers.” When you’re doing it in an iterative manner, you need to make sure that you’re actually driving towards a result. We’re kicking it off right now, and the benefit we have is we have a board meeting in September so that it’s a time-boxed event. We know that when we have our board meeting in September, we’re going to walk through [inaudible 00:34:46] strategic plan, and then also what that means in terms of the 2016 budget and then the five-year plan.

 

Greg: Very good. Just to recap there, my commentary on those things, and then I’ve got two resources for the audience. Inclusive, I absolutely love that. I wasn’t anticipating that when I got on the call today. Many times, the sales leaders that we interact with say, “Listen, I get the number, and I’ve got to do what I can do to make it. It’s not like I’m involved in the conversation and helping determining the strategy.” I think buy-in and collaboration would go up dramatically if they do what you said, which is be inclusive.

 

Next is fact-based, and you’re so right. The loudest voice in the room can’t win. I forget who said it, but somebody said, “Everybody bring data or all bring data … In God we trust, all bring data,” or something like that. Fact-based is the key to it all. I can’t stress that enough, and especially in the sales world where everybody loves to tell the tale of the day. Then, drive it to an answer. The strategic planning process can get out of control. You can just analyze and analyze and analyze, and always forcing yourself to say, “What are we solving for?” is key.

 

All right, fantastic. Listen, I’m going to drive the audience to two resources that I think would be helpful. The first is SBI’s annual research report. We just came out with the ninth edition of it. It’s titled How to Make Your Number in 2016. If you want a copy of it, you can get it at salesbenchmarkindex.com/2016-report. Secondly is, if you want to apply this research to your business, then I would encourage you to meet with one of our experts. We’ve got a purpose-built workshop that can be done in a half-a-day or a full day, depending on what your needs are, where they’ll walk you through a series of exercises that applies the output of this year’s research report. If you’re interested in that, you can find it at salesbenchmarkindex.com/2016-workshop. Same URL, one’s “report” and one’s “workshop.”

 

Bal, on behalf of myself, my company, everybody who’s listening, I really appreciate you unselfishly giving us your time and your perspective on things. I think it was very educational and my audience benefited greatly from this, so thanks for being on the show.

 

Bal: You’re welcome. Happy to do it.

 

Greg: Great. Then, specifically to the SBI audience, thank you for tuning in. I hope you enjoyed it, and best of luck in making your number next year. Take care.

 

Speaker 1: This has been the SBI Podcast. For more information on SBI services, case studies, the SBI team and how we work, or to subscribe to our other offerings, please visit us at salesbenchmarkindex.com.