SBI recently spoke with Scott Tapp, the executive vice president of global sales, marketing and field operations at PGi. PGi is the world’s largest dedicated provider of collaboration software, and is the maker of iMeet. The topic of conversation was sales execution. Scott walked us through 8 steps he takes to ensure flawless sales execution in the field.
#1 – Hierarchy of Objectives
How does Scott cascade high-level corporate objectives such as revenue and EBITDA targets into field level objectives? “I look at alignment in two critical ways,” explained Scott. “First is applying constant communication, and secondly, we align compensation that drives behavior to help us execute our key goals.” These two aspects ensure his team is executing the sales strategy.
#2 – Tracking Progress against Objectives
Objectives must be converted into KPIs that can be reported on to keep track of daily progress. How does Scott do this at PGi? From the operation side of the business they look at uptime indicators, service levelers, and care and support KPIs. They are very disciplined on the daily activities on the operations side.
From the business side, critical indicators to Scott include implementation stats, andthe onboarding process and impact they are having on customers. And from the sales perspective, he tracks things like pipeline creation to measure progress against objectives.
#3 – Driving Daily Behavior
How does Scott drive the daily behavior of each sales person? “I expect the sales line managers in the field and around the world to be communicating, coaching, and driving their reps’ activity on a daily basis,” he explained. This constant process improvement allows their sales team to know exactly what they’re doing every day of the week. And exactly what they must accomplish each day.
#4 – Weekly Sales Meetings
How do PGI frontline managers remove obstacles from their sales team each and every week? During a weekly call the PGi sales leadership team discuss recurring themes from the previous week. These can be things like lost deals or customer successes. Essentially they identify these themes, and drive some type of training or information around them. This creates understanding and strategic alignment across the sales team.
#5 – Monthly Sales Meetings
How can sales leaders ensure they have what they need to make their number? Scott insists on a monthly face to face meeting. “We’re now putting in place where we’re taking monthly reports and scorecards from each product level and we’re broadcasting that into our functional groups and we’re actually sitting down saying, ‘Okay, look at the KPIs and the goals we had,’” explains Scott. With that information he can better drive execution, and understand where to invest resources for continued success.
#6 – Quarterly Business Review
How does the company rapidly iterate its strategy at the corporate level based on feedback? This has been a hot topic at PGi, as they have been working on how to make their QBRs more effective. To Scott, it’s all about the customers. “As you look at our strategic discussions, we try to focus on driving all the feedback we can from our customers; our goal is to make sure that our customers are actually coming up with the ideas that we drive into our organization,” said Scott.
#7 – The Annual Planning Process
Each year organizations must develop the annual operating plan. For sales leaders this involves things like headcount, sales compensation plans, sales quotas, and territories. How does Scott and his team handle this? They try to stay well ahead of the process. They start with key themes, and topics. What are they learning? From that, they look to execution to drive an operating plan. This insight also drives things like talent development. For example, if they need a new service based on what they’ve learned, will they also need a new type of sales rep?
#8 – Multi Year Strategy Planning
In order to drive execution, organizations must also decide on big strategic issues over the long term. This includes answering questions like:
- What markets should we compete in and why?
- What products should we invest in and why?
What’s our competitive positioning versus our top three competitors?
- What are our objectives really going to be?
- What is our brand promise to our customers and how are we going to serve them?
This multi-year strategic process is where Scott and his team determine their reason for existence. And who they want to be when they grow up.
These 8 steps are key to sales execution. Each of these require discipline. If you lack the discipline needed to execute, chances are you will under-perform against your potential. Instead, manage your team and it’s execution for the long term, as Scott has described for us here.