You can read articles, blogs, books, and white papers from the best and the brightest experts in the industry. You can attend webinars, conferences, seminars and symposiums. You can network across a growing array of social and business platforms and talk to your fellow sales leaders. One thing is for certain, you will encounter the same timeworn topics of debate. It is all too clear that there are specific, fundamental elements of sales leadership that seem forever unresolved, no matter which ‘linkage’ attracts the greatest number of ‘followers’.
These elements persist despite the ever-changing nature of our industry. They persist regardless of the manner in which businesses try to adapt to changes. No matter the current trends or technologies, what size company you work for, or the types of products you sell, they are simple issues to understand but very difficult to solve. I dare say it is well past the time to stop this endless and obviously futile ‘discussion’ and start taking decisive action. It is time to implement a pledge to realistically address these key areas of focus once and for all.
I am suggesting a two-part pledge. The first five of the ten ‘declarations of allegiance’ are set forth below. The second set of five declarations will be posted in a follow-up blog post. How many of these are you willing to pledge to resolve today?
Ready? Repeat after me…
1. Marketing is Selling
Although Marketing performs different tasks from those carried out by Sales, I wholeheartedly recognize that the primary objective of both departments is the same. I simply and steadfastly refuse to let the ‘us vs them’ attitude prevail any longer. Marketing and sales will (must) be collaborative and in alignment regarding metrics (i.e. number of leads delivered), definitions (i.e. the definition of a lead), and performance (i.e. the percent of leads sales will follow-up on and the time-frame). Marketing and Sales are one team. ______ (initial)
2. Take Charge of Change
Yes, there are issues I have no control over. I refuse to let those issues influence or prevent me from doing what must be done. I will make a definitive decision to outline the key change-factors that are critical and essential to my/our success in 2013. I will take charge of creating an action plan for solving them. I will take charge of change. ______ (initial)
3. Don’t Let Time Kill Deals
I recognize and accept the fact that there is a dangerous point in every sales-cycle when deals are at high-risk, and that is the point when they are ready-to-close. The more time that passes after a buying indicator—like a verbal agreement or proposal review—the higher the probability something will de-rail the deal. I pledge to come up with a solid strategy that reduces or eliminates that risk and shortens the sales-cycle. I will not let time kill deals. ______ (initial)
4. Multiple-Decision Maker Mediation
No matter how enthusiastic or ‘on-board’ the buyer is, I recognize that he or she will inevitably find themselves having to sell their decision to internal buying influencers. I will not leave that decision to chance. I will work with marketing to create content specifically designed to help my buyer with their internal sell. I will create a sales process that uncovers and eliminates potential road-blocks before they arise. I will not lose a deal to an internal, buyer-side disagreement. ______ (initial)
5. Balance the Big Data / Little Data Equation
It is essential that I have all the information necessary to make solid business decisions. I cannot operate on intuition. It is unacceptable to move forward without timely insight from my team/s. I need to perform ‘big data’ analysis if I want to understand underlying trends, identify risks in the forecasts, and hold my team/s accountable. I will find the right tools and processes to ensure that sales members are inputting vital and timely information into our system. I know I cannot perform ‘big data’ analysis without capturing ‘little’ data. ______ (initial)
Sales and marketing, both the leaders and those required to make the effort a team-wide success, cannot and must not operate in a vacuum. Next time you’re involved in a conversation about Marketing and Sales being at odds with each other, or discussing the problem of forecasted deals not closing, will you be able to confidently talk about your plan for resolving the issue/s. Or will you instead join the others in lamenting and cursing these seemingly unsolvable problems? Will you take the oath to banish these common obstacles once and for all?
Author, Nancy Nardin is the foremost expert in sales productivity tools. As President of Smart Selling Tools, she consults with many of the top sales productivity software vendors as well as end-user organizations looking to select the right tools. Click to get Nancy’s What & When weekly digest with invitations to complimentary webinars and informative publications. Follow Nancy on Twitter @sellingtools or subscribe to her Tool Talk blog. Nancy can be reached at 916-596-3035. To schedule a free 30 minute consultation.