article | July 9, 2017
Three Reasons a Sales Leader Should Care about Strategy
Sales leaders rarely leverage the Chief Strategy Officer as a resource. Interlocking with the corporate strategy officer is placed on the same level of importance as meeting with the corporate safety goon. But when your strategy officer is the real thing, you have access to a secret weapon. It’s difficult to grow revenue faster than your industry’s growth rate and faster than your competitors. Leverage the How to Make Your Number in 2018 to access a revenue growth methodology to hit your number quarter after quarter, and year after year.
You have an opportunity to leverage the strategy officer to help you connect the corporate strategy to the sales operating plan. In the process, you build an advocate on the executive team. It’s time to rethink your view of the strategy officer. There are three significant reasons you should care about strategy.
Recently I published a podcast recording of my interview with Julian Lighton, Chief Strategy Officer at software company Renaissance Learning. 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’s recent podcast demonstrated how the strategy officer can help a sales team.
The top three reasons why a sales leader should care about strategy deserves additional attention for our audience. Below are Julian’s top three reasons from my recent interview:
The strategy officer tends to set the agenda and the dialogue around priorities with the executive team and the board. From a sales point of view, if you want to influence that agenda and be involved in the conversation, then it’s important to not only have a great relationship with the Head of Strategy, but to think in strategic terms.
The strategy office can help the sales leader to come up from the execution of the tactical. The team effort can work together to frame the sales objectives back into the corporate strategy framework. The sales and strategy leaders can determine precisely how sales create value and then tie it back to the strategy. Therefore, whether it be a set of customer issues or partner issues or sales team issues, it’s important to address the value drivers. That’s number one.
Conversations around strategy tend to address resources. A firm’s resources are rarely elastic. Most are fixed and not variable. The conversation around resources should be able to map resources against a sales philosophy. It’s incredibly important and addresses a lot of the issues around how we’re going to use our resources to create the highest impact in the marketplace.
From a sales leader’s perspective, if he’s going to be the field general and run a campaign, having somebody who is his closest adviser, a friend who is with him on that resource train.
The third reason is to be engaged in the dialogue on whether to build, a buy, or a partner to create value. The sales force is nearly always involved in taking a build. Whatever the company creates as a set of product or services to market. They’re vitally important in terms of the partner conversation but sales are rarely involved as much as they should be in terms of the buyer conversation.
Most companies, particularly now, are making more acquisitions than they have been over the last twenty years. The acquiring of new companies come with new teams. This includes new sales, marketing, and product teams. To be part of those dialogues and to be front and center as the voice of the customer means that there should be a healthy relationship between sales and strategy. This gives sales the ability to influence the strategy in terms of the acquisitions and corporate development.
You should care about strategy to influence the agenda. This puts sales leaders able to make sure that the resourcing is done with all the facts on the table. Since growth is not just organic, it’s also inorganic, you want to be engaged. The debate between build, buy, partner needs the input of sales.
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