“I can’t believe they eliminated my job. I never saw this coming, honey.” This was all Andy could say to his wife of 12 years, Megan. He didn’t have a great year but it wasn’t awful in his mind. (91% of plan). He wasn’t on the bottom of the stack rank. Why Andy? One simple answer: Andy wasn’t a game changer. During his 8 years in sales leadership he made his number 4 times. The bigger issue: Andy didn’t build the business. He had no new ideas. He waited for corporate to tell him what to do. If you want to avoid job elimination, bring something new to the table every year. Avoid being Andy.
Download the Sales Leader’s 7 Game Changing Ideas. It contains 7 things a sales leader needs to do this year to evolve. Each idea has 3 levels of application (basic, intermediate, advanced). The level you tackle depends on the maturity of your sales force.
Things happen slowly then suddenly
In Q1 of last year Andy lost the number 2 and number 5 rep in his region. He wasn’t sure why they left. They both said he was a great boss on the way out. His top Manager got a VP job at a startup. Not Andy’s fault, right? These things happen. Andy’s region bombed on the new product launch in Q2. Product Marketing didn’t train his team for the launch. Field marketing was short staffed so he didn’t get any leads. Not Andy’s fault. In Q3, Andy lost 2 huge deals. Two small regional competitors priced deals aggressively. They “bought the business”. Andy’s controller was inflexible on the deal. Not Andy’s fault.
Andy convinced himself his problems were out of his control. Andy got comfortable. As my father always said, “as soon as you stop improving, you stop being good”.
An Alternative Approach to Andy
Seek disruption with 1 new idea per day. During our recent research tour, we revealed 7 trends. We believe sales forces that implement 3 or more of these will outpace their peers. Below are 3 of the 7 that garnered the most attention. The complete list of game changers can be found right here.
- Buyer Behavior—no longer can you use a commercial sales methodology to manage a deal. Nobody sells anybody anything these days. The goal is to facilitate your buyer’s journey. In order to do this, you must first map it. You want to learn the questions they ask themselves during this journey. Here is an example.
- Evolve Your Social Selling—being on LinkedIn is not enough. Sales forces have never had better access. The problem is they don’t know how to execute social selling at a high level. Does each rep on your team have a top 10 dream client list? Learning how to prospect using tactics like social surround is the wave of the future.
- Sales Enablement—preparing the sales force to sell the new product. Best practice in this area is the sales rep playbook. The visual below illustrates the key items a company must provide its reps for a successful launch.
Reinvention—Andy is in the market. His complacency caused him to get fired. If Andy had evolved each year, he may have kept his job.
- Your Plan—Reinvent yourself while you have a job. The best practice is 1 new initiative every 90 days. Your buyers are evolving at a rapid pace; don’t get left behind.
Market Correction—Andy will be working for less money in his next job. When prospective employers hear Andy say “my job was eliminated” that is a signal he stopped evolving. Companies don’t overpay for average skills.
- Your Plan—There is always a reason not to tackle a sales productivity problem. There will never be a good time. Stop hesitating.
Ownership—Andy passed blame. Andy was a taker. He drafted off others, including his peers. Andy was not in the inner circle.
- Your Plan— Not knowing what to do fix a sales productivity problem is not a good excuse to be static. There are resources everywhere. Take responsibility.