Today’s show is a demonstration on how a Chief Strategy Officer can help a sales team. Too many sales leaders tolerate the strategy leader within their company and do their best to avoid interlocking. However, a common challenge among sales leaders is building a sales strategy and operating plan that interlocks completely with the CEO’s corporate strategy. The head of strategy can help sales leaders solve this problem.
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Joining us is Julian Lighton, Chief Strategy Officer at Renaissance Learning. Renaissance is the leader in K-12 education technology enabling teachers, curriculum creators, and educators to drive phenomenal student growth. Julian’s experience includes leading strategy at Hitachi, Cisco, Neustar, and Rovi, which is now TiVo. Before that Julian was a partner in software and services at McKinsey. Julian is uniquely qualified to demonstrate how the strategy officer can help a sales team.
Watch as Julian outlines three reasons sales leaders should care about strategy. As a sales leader you’re thinking about getting the job done making this quarter’s revenue target. Julian makes a clear case for how interlocking better with your strategy leader will keep the tail from wagging the dog. In other words, it will provide you with the direction on target markets and products to focus with the right level of resources.
Why this topic? The best sales leaders we see blend strategy and execution masterfully. The average sales leaders we see don’t understand strategy, even though they think they do because they think a collection of sales tactics is a strategy. This is not their fault. Most of them have never been trained on strategy development. This is where a partnership between the sales leader and the chief strategy officer can be a great partnership and produce great results.
Julian describes using a Value Creation Plan as a framework to understand how a company generates value for its shareholders. This breaks down into a series of value drivers and underneath that a series of KPIs or metrics. For a sales leader, the top value drivers are going to be market acquisition. The includes finding new logo customers, net new customers, driving wallet share, cross-sell, up-sell and finally renewals if you’re in a subscription or services business. Watch as Julian demonstrates what a sales leader really needs to understand to move each of the KPIs attached to the value drivers.
The greatest contribution to the sales team by the head of strategy is to hold the strategic problem together (as opposed to breaking a problem apart). This involves asking, which is the greater priority? Therefore, what am I really supposed to be doing? This approach keeps the problem from disintegrating and being left with five different problems. Asking these questions prevents problems that aren’t commonly defined and fractured resources working on different things.
How do you better engage your strategy officer? We can help. Consider scheduling a visit to The Studio and ask your Chief Strategy Officer to come along. The Studio is SBI’s multimillion dollar, one-of-a-kind, state-of-the-art executive briefing center. A visit to increases the probability of making your number because the sessions are built on the proven strength and stability of SBI, the industry leader in B2B sales and marketing.
Cpl Jody Lee Smith, United States Marine Corps, WikiMedia Commons