To reduce their political risk.
#1-Manage Up– less than 10% of CEO’s came up through the sales ranks. CEO’s are skilled at developing a product, managing a P&L, streamlining operations, and rolling up a fragmented industry. Yet, they often do not understand what “good” looks like when assessing a sales leader and his sales strategy. A sales consulting firm can educate a CEO on sales execution plans from across the globe and across many industries. The result is some unbiased context upon which the CEO can judge the sales leader and the company’s planned sales strategy. This prevents the CEO from pulling the plug on the program prematurely 6 months in, which happens a lot, unfortunately.
#2- Manage Laterally– a sales consulting firm can help a sales leader gain consensus with his cross functional peers. Many sales improvement programs require support from finance, IT, marketing, products, and human resources. These peers have been trained to “keep their hands on their wallets” when the sales leader is in the room. A sales consulting firm, through proper problem diagnostic techniques, can present objective evidence that earns buy in. The result is a sales leader getting the resources he needs to win.
#3- Manage Down– a sales consulting firm can help a sales leader gain support from key field lieutenants and rain makers. The days of the sales leader yelling “March!” and the field complying are over. The sales leader needs to get the fields input into each move he makes, prior to making it. The field needs to know they have a voice and it is heard. A sales consulting firm will run surveys, conduct expert panels, make sales calls, perform market research, mystery shop the competition and many other valuable field based activities. The result is lots of field input, collected from reps/managers/customers/prospects/competitors, quickly. This results in the field “playing ball” and not giving him “The Heisman”.
If you are a sales leader reading this post, ask yourself this question upon launching a sales improvement project, big or small:
“What happens to me if this gets screwed up?”
If the answer is nothing, then do not hire a sale consulting firm. You don’t need one.
If the answer is “I don’t know”. Find out before you begin. Fast.
If the answer is:
- I will get fired
- I will get demoted
- I will miss my number
- I will lose key customers
- I will embarrass myself with my boss, peers, and the field
- I will lose my best people
Then contract with a sales consulting firm. There are many of them who understand how to reduce the political risk for a sales leader embarking on a sales transformation. Why go it alone? Doing so is reckless.
A sales effectiveness initiative requires lots of change. When companies disrupt the status quo and seek to change, political risk escalates. If not managed correctly, the politics can sink a sales leader. It may make sense for you to hire a sales consulting firm to reduce your political risk.