Elections loom large for political strategists. That is what they live for, literally. Fittingly, they are masters at controlling the agenda, selecting the criteria for decision-making and controlling access to information. So, what if you took some of these shrewd techniques and applied them to your business plan? Could your sales strategy benefit from opposition research? Could you use outside experts to inform product evaluations?
Scott Edinger, Forbes contributor, laments the lack of great sales leadership in an article entitled “The Future of Sales Leadership”. He quotes Tom Wallace, managing partner of a venture capital firm who said "Getting the right person to lead sales” was the biggest issue for growth across their portfolio of more than 50 companies. What a sobering thought! Edinger goes on to say that “As sales organizations evolve, the sales leadership role becomes a fundamentally different job.” In other words, the game changes as technology transforms the business world. Consequently, these changes require sophisticated sales managers who are more than just successful sellers who have been kicked upstairs. Notably, future sales leaders must have command of an advanced and powerful sales strategy.
Gerrymander your sales strategy
Gerrymandering is the drawing of legislative district boundaries to benefit a political party. Ultimately, the primary purpose is to maximize supporters and minimize the opposition. Sadly, the practice, in effect, allows politicians to choose their voters rather than the opposite. However, in the sales world, organizations can turn this intense scrutiny on their ideal client profile. Edinger makes this argument when he urges managers to redefine sales as strategy execution. Specifically, he urges alignment of the sales team’s actions with the company’s go-to-market strategy. In this way, the customer who can buy your product or service becomes the holy grail. Ultimately, your sellers will “win the majority of the business that your company is best suited for” when these boundaries are installed.
Measure the right metrics
Election strategists ruthlessly wring out the most relevant information from their data. Conversely, sales organizations struggle to ascertain the right information required for selling. As Edinger puts it, “Much of the data gathered by sales management is used for inspection rather than improvement of the sales process.” Likewise, he stresses the importance of understanding the potential revenue at various stages in the sales pipeline and tracking its progress. For instance, managers should know what works when, and strive to replicate that action. Unfortunately, if your data is too narrow or the information has been condensed for cross-purposes, your sales strategy will suffer. Mistakenly, managers often allow the available data to determine sales intelligence instead of seeking the precise information that will drive results. Interestingly, election strategists call this "selecting the decision criteria" and it could assist you in your next sales campaign.
Build a more capable sales team
What is the investment in sales training in proportion to total resource allocation of your company? Interestingly, Edinger implies that future sales organizations must rethink investment in sales training. He states, “At its core, selling consultatively and selling solutions is a sophisticated communication discipline employing a set of flexible practices.” The author challenges sales managers to view coaching as one of the critical components of building sales capability. In addition, he advocates a continuous improvement approach to training. As an example, he cites a study that says sales experience is a 25% factor in a prospect’s buying decision. Therefore, managers should devote resources to “enhance their team’s ability to make the sales experience exceptional.”
“Sales is strategy”
Finally, Edinger wraps up his article by advising sales managers to be good role models and to personally take over the coaching function of their teams. This major shift in sales leadership is critical to winning business now and building for the future. In his words, “Excellence in sales leadership begins with forward-thinking, growth-minded individuals who understand that sales is strategy.”
To learn more about coaching and strategic selling, download SalesFuel’s white paper entitled “Managers as Coaches.”
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