article | August 27, 2014
Stop the Sales Project Du Jour
I sat across from a recently promoted Sales Leader. His predecessor had missed the previous three quarters. The CEO wanted somebody new who could “Move the Needle.” This new SVP, a former manager, was a recognized “A” Player. Despite the overall miss, his team had hit its goal. “What are you going to do first?” I asked.
“You know there’s a couple of things I’ve been looking at. We want to revamp our CRM – it’s underutilized. Also, we’re looking at some additional sales training. Finally, I’d like to make sure we re-align the compensation plan for the new year.”
“Sounds like a lot,” I said. “What did you guys do last year?” He leaned back.
“We purchased tablets and content software for the field. We rolled out another selling methodology, and we…” the SVP sheepishly grinned as he saw my point, “re-designed the compensation structure.”
“How many of those initiatives achieved their results?”
He thought awhile. “I’d say none. The company missed the number. It wasn’t close.”
“How can you ensure these new projects will get results?” I asked. He exhaled and stared at the ceiling.
The prior SVP was no slouch. He worked 70 hour weeks. Every year his company undertook new projects to make sales more effective. But the projects usually failed. It was like a monkey at a slot machine. Sometimes a pull produced results. But the wins were never consistent or substantial.
The SVP suffered from a common Sales Strategy error – Tactics Masquerading as Strategy.
Download our Project Selection Guide to build a series of projects from a true sales strategy. It will give you the blueprint for your 2015 initiatives. Also, we’ve launched our annual research workshop “How To Hit Your Number In 2015.” You can register here to participate in a one-on-one workshop with an SBI expert at no cost.
How do you know when your strategy is really just a string of tactics? Two signs.
#1 The Project Laundry List: We are rolling out a new website to capture leads. We are buying new software. We are training on this sales methodology. They are all in silos. None are coordinated.
#2 Projects are reactive in nature: The sales leader is trying to correct previous errors. One quarter the company narrowly makes the number. The next they miss. “Projects of the month” become frequent. They are out of sequence. While they may produce a short term spike, the behavior isn’t ingrained.
To design a cohesive sales strategy, here are three questions a sales leader should ask:
What customers/products have the most potential for growth?
This is a fundamental question. If you’re expecting a “peanut butter spread” of increased performance across all sectors, you’ll be disappointed. Sales Leaders who make their number identify a target segment. They hone their resources and projects around it.
Are my tactics aligned with the corporate/marketing strategy?
Many Sales VPs chase the hot sales project. Today it is tablet software. Last year it was the Challenger Sale. But they fail to consider how each project will align with their corporate goals. The first step: Build a clearly defined sales strategy. The second step: Identify the behavior you need to change. The third step: Choose projects that change the behavior. Leading with the project is the tail wagging the dog.
Where can I become more efficient?
Sales leaders are being asked to produce more with the same resources. But what activities make reps the most productive? Sales leaders need to identify gaps and roadblocks prior to an efficiency project. Many efficiency projects purchase expensive technology, with no adoption or integration process. This is why CRM and Tablet projects often fail to deliver on promises.
Need to help to formulate your sales strategy? Register for our 2015 Workshop here. Just want a high-level overview? Download the Project Selection Guide. Planning for next year starts now. Make sure your projects maximize your ability to make the number.
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