The need for agility in the execution of customer pursuit efforts has never been greater. With revenues virtually falling to zero in many industries, CEOs and CROs (including your competitors) are working to maximize revenue from their customer base. This is complicated by the uncertain trajectory and pace of any future recovery. The implication is that customer needs and business realities are changing on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis. The tactics that worked last week will likely not work this week.
Like the majority of CEOs and CROs, their organization’s strategy, sales, and marketing functions were not built to solve such difficult problems at a breakneck pace. In fact, very few organizations can lay claim to adapting to such adverse conditions quickly. It is almost impossible to build an organization at scale that can do this. Building a Tiger team that focuses on a specific challenge can help organizations develop the capability to solve an intractable problem.
Here is a recent SBI podcast on how other CEOs are weathering the crisis,
Tiger teams are highly skilled cross-functional teams built to solve challenging problems. These teams address a critical issue, which is codified in a clear set of objectives linked to the impact that organizations want to achieve. For some historical perspective, the first Tiger team was established in 1968, when NASA engineers needed to figure out how to bring Apollo 13 back to earth. The name Tiger was derived from the fact that the team was thought of as “undomesticated specialists” not tied to any specific function in the organization. They are charged with attacking a problematic challenge with all they have. Deploying teams to such intractable problems have been commonplace in IT and Digital Transformations over the years.
Recently, SBI hosted a webinar on how to protect the revenue base and discussed how Tiger teams are critical for customer retention. View the recording and access the framework here.
For sales and marketing, there is a wide range of areas where the brilliance of cross-functional teams – product, customer success, inside and/or field sales, engineering – can be applied to ensure customers all get the right treatment at the right time to increase their “likelihood to buy.” This is a hyper-segmentation framework on how market leaders are adjusting their GTM plans.
Four Important Principles as You Consider Setting up Your Tiger Team
Fundamentally, what CEO and CROs need are teams that can develop and execute their strategic sales and marketing objectives. SBI’s research has identified 4 key principles needed for Sales and Marketing Tiger teams to succeed.
1. Clear Revenue-Focused Goals: Setting goals is critical for Tiger teams to succeed. This is fundamental, and all other principles are derived from this. Much like how individuals are more likely to succeed by setting goals, the impact desired from Tiger teams helps them focus on their “True North” and keep the high-performing team members motivated. Ruthlessly staying true to the goal and publicly making quick pivots where needed ensures that all team members understand how their skills, perspectives, and past experience apply to the problem being solved. There are a wide range of use cases where C-suite leaders can deploy Tiger teams. A few include:
- Maintain access to and increase engagement with top customers over the next 3-6 months. Attain 75% of the year-over-year Quarter spend in Q4 2020.
- Turbo-charge customer success to limit customer attrition to less than 30% at the top (based on revenue dollars) of the sales funnel.
- Execute on go-to-market transformation to adapt from face to face and increase the maturity of virtual sales capabilities. Inside sales metric: ASP increase of 20%. Field sales metric: Attain 45% virtual selling by EOY.
2. Time-Bound Mandate: It is equally important to set a duration for the Tiger team’s mandate. Market-leading CEOs and CROs have identified time as a critical factor as they shape their response to the current economic downturn. Additionally, the heightened need to increase sales agility during the recovery does not give them the luxury of having their top talent work on a few business challenges for extended periods of time. Some creativity can be applied to the development of short- and long-term goals for the team. The main challenge that leaders need to navigate with this split is the tendency for groups to target short-term solutions to symptoms vs. root causes of the issues the Tiger team was established to tackle.
3. Talent Alignment to Task: In normal economic conditions, it is acceptable to staff Tiger teams without a singular focus on the right skillset, perspectives, or experience. In such situations, it is easy to see how providing development opportunities for employees, location of talent, etc. could be critical criteria to decide who sits on the Tiger team. At this time when; a) Solving revenue growth challenges could be the difference between making it through the pandemic and filing for bankruptcy, and b) Video conferencing is now the norm, not the exception, tight alignment of the specialist’s skills to the revenue growth goals of the organization cannot be over-emphasized. In my digital and sales transformation experience, I had seen teams struggle when the employees who did not have the needed skillset were staffed on the Tiger teams. Suffice to say, such efforts most often end with Tiger teams being disbanded with very few “wins” under their belts. Of course, the world is not black and white, but focusing on the goal at hand is critical for CEOs and CROs now more than ever before.
4. Tiger Team Empowerment: Equally important is empowering Tiger teams to experiment, test solutions, develop playbooks, and make critical decisions. While this increases the risk of “getting things wrong,” it also enables your team to climb up the learning curve and increase the level of agility they have. In diagnosing so-called Tiger teams that must “wait for approval,” two common themes that emerge are: The exclusion of key decision-makers on the team and the creation of a culture that promotes smart risk-taking. A good yardstick here is to walk through the steps your Tiger team needs to go through to test their solutions. If the team needs to wait for approval(s) that can take up to a week or two, you do not have enough decision-makers on your Tiger team. Perhaps your CRO or Chief Transformation Officer should sit on the team. Alternatively, the level of organizational trust on your Tiger team might not be good enough.
For additional information on Tiger teams, download our recent webinar Retention Is the New Growth.
The consensus is that executives will be adapting to the changes from the COVID-19 pandemic for a long time. The complexity and level of agility needed to solve the challenges they face will require the adoption of multi-faceted approaches to problem-solving. Tiger teams are a great vehicle to do this. Such tactics will differentiate the winners from the also-rans. As a revenue leader in your organization, what group do you want to fall into?
Email Gbenga here to schedule a time to discuss specific ways to set up Tiger teams for your organization.