Why?

To reduce their political risk.

 

How?

Three ways:

 

#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.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Greg Alexander

Leads the firm's focus on the CEO’s role in accelerating revenue growth by getting the product team, the marketing department, and the sales organization into strategic alignment.

Greg is the host of The SBI Podcast, the most listened to sales and marketing podcast on the internet.

 

He is the host of SBI TV, a monthly television program broadcast on the internet featuring top B2B sales and marketing leader sharing their strategies to grow revenues.

 

Greg is the Editor-in-Chief of The SBI Magazine, the leading B2B publication focused on sales and marketing effectiveness.

 

He is the author of two critically acclaimed books Topgrading for Sales and Making the Number.

 

Greg has authored over 100 articles on SBI’s award winning blog, The SBI Blog.

 

He graduated from The University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BA in English and received his MBA from Georgia Tech.

 

Video:

 

Transforming the Sales Organization inside Fortune 500 Companies

Greg Alexander and John Gleason, Chief Sales Officer of Ryder, talk about the unique challenges of transforming a sales team inside of very large enterprises.

 

A Better Way to Structure Your Sales Force

Greg Alexander and Tony Capucille, Chief Sales Officer at Heartland Payment Systems, discuss the pros and cons of the 7 B2B sales organizational models.

 

Build a team of A Players Inside the Sales Organization

Greg Alexander and Todd Cione, Chief Revenue Officer at Rackspace, talk about hiring, onboarding, and developing exceptional sales talent.

 

Articles

 

Fill Every Role on Your Team with an A Player

In this article, Greg Alexander makes the case for applying the TopGrading methodology to the sales team, and outlines how to do so.

 

What CEOs Need to Know About Their Marketing Strategies

In this article, Greg Alexander and Rashid Skaf, CEO of AMX, discuss the role the CEO plays in crafting a company’s marketing strategy.

 

What CEOs are Looking for in a Sales Leader

In this article, Greg Alexander and George Norton, leader of Heidrick & Struggles Chief Sales Officer practice, discuss what CEOs need in the chief sales officer role.

Read full bio >