I reached out to my friend Lee Wood, SVP of Global Sales at Thomson Reuters, and asked him to chip in. Lee is the rare sales leader who was born in, and lives, in the UK who leads a global sales force, currently at Thomson Reuters and prior to that at Dow Jones. I asked Lee some questions about how a sales leader might modify their sales strategy based on what part of the world they are selling to.
Below are his responses. Enjoy.
Is your sales strategy different for the US and non-US markets?
Yes and no. We have a global strategy that defines the key initiatives which underpin our longer term aspirations and near term financial goals. These initiatives are supported with programs and everyone participates in these. However, at a local level we have sales plans that reflect local focus areas that could connect directly with the global strategy i.e. winning against competitors, but may also include focus that doesn’t i.e. business opportunities unique to that geography.
What advice would you give a US-based sales leader who is trying to grow international revenue?
Respect differences and do your homework. The way sales get made in non US markets differs. For example, in France it’s a virtual waste of time to cold call, the most effective way to do business is to be introduced. By homework I mean that let the facts about local sales and market opportunity drive the direction you give others. You’ll earn respect and you’ll direct resources to focus on areas that will yield the best returns.
What advice would you give a non-US based sales leader who is looking to grow US revenue?
I was that person! Again, let the facts guide the direction you take to achieve results. Be sure to reflect the feedback sales producers and managers give you about the opportunities and threats you face and include this information in the direction you set. Otherwise it’s a balance of planning which provides the focus, inspiring people to perform through recognition, coaching, appropriate performance management, creating belief in your plans, and leveraging teamwork to get things accomplished. US sales producers, managers and leaders are amongst the most professional I have ever worked with. They are still eager to learn and improve themselves and if you’re accomplished to teach or can otherwise create learning and development opportunities the US sales force will apply the learning and go the extra mile.
How has the adoption of “Sales 2.0” varied between US and non-US markets?
The era of sales 2.0 is an era underscored by cloud computing, connections and networking and using social media tools effectively to connect and collaborate. But it’s not just about social media. It’s about using related technology to better engage with clients and ultimately generate better quality and qualified (scored) leads. It’s also therefore about better alignment between sales and marketing. It’s about measuring performance beyond simple analysis of performance to targets. In this era you need to assess all the measures of sales productivity. In my experience there is no difference between the adoption of the tenets of sales 2.0 between US and Non US markets.
Great sales leaders create context to which their leadership can be applied. I work on the premise that you shouldn’t expect to achieve a goal without a plan (context). This applies to any market. But in the end it comes down to your team. Don’t expect great results from sales people if they aren’t capable of bringing thought leadership to the clients they work with. Relationship selling will yield lower results compared with a consultative approach, backed with expertise and an ability to close.