For the past few years, businesses have been in survival mode. Executives have their hands full just keeping their businesses afloat while dealing with the pandemic, labor issues, supply chain issues, rising interest rates, recessions and more. As a leader, your job is not to simply maintain the status quo. To develop, an organization must grow.
In my new book Development leaderI provide strategies for leaders to achieve top and bottom line results. Here are three critical lessons for successfully managing growth.
1. Don’t overlook the sales experience in your customer experience.
Executives recognize that customer experience is a point of differentiation for their organization and build growth strategies that add CX to their plans. Unfortunately, most CX efforts focus on what happens after a customer becomes a customer, completely ignoring what comes first: the sales experience. Sales experience is the first leg of the race to acquire and retain customers, and if your company doesn’t win, your prospects will have a customer experience comparable to that of your competition.
Research on B2B transactions indicates that 25% of your customer’s decision criteria is based on sales experience. After the quality of the products and services you provide, the sales experience is the most important recommendation to customers. So while your offering looks the same or similar to your competitors in the eyes of your audience, it’s the sales experience that sets your company apart and tips the balance in your favor.
Leaders should focus on designing a value-based sales experience, not on designing products or demonstrating capabilities. Use your organizational insights and expertise to help clients think differently about their situations and needs and how best to address them. Focus your sales organization on helping customers identify issues like priorities or the implications of challenges they haven’t addressed. Help prospects see answers to their problems by using your solutions in ways they never thought of before. The value built into this type of partnership is delivering a sales experience that customers are willing to pay for. They vote for you with their dollars.
2. Eliminate sales stigma.
One of the main reasons why organizations fail to use sales experience is the existence of sales stigma – negative attitudes and perceptions associated with the sales profession. Most executives have a functional background in finance, operations, technical fields, or sometimes marketing. They rarely come on sale. The role of sales has evolved dramatically since the early days of the American census, when sales jobs were relegated to “huckster” or “commander,” but it has remained marginalized. This affects the traits we typically look for in sales professionals, overemphasizing traits such as outgoing personalities or aggressiveness that are ineffective in complex solution selling. It also affects the way sales teams are managed to develop and close or shut down, with nowhere near enough focus on consultative practices.
This affects how a business can find new customers, expand its business with existing ones, and build customer loyalty. These outdated stereotypes and negative attitudes still influence the critical decisions made by CEOs and executives in the sales function: the types of people we hire, how we manage them, how we pay them, how we develop them, and how we communicate with them. .
Because beliefs shape behavior, stigmatizing and counterproductive beliefs about sales need to be addressed to drive growth. Creating a high-performance sales culture requires leaders to prioritize strategic vision, technical or functional knowledge and expertise in recruiting sales professionals, as these are skills most valued by customers. Leaders need to understand the complexity of selling consulting solutions and making strategic investments in coaching and leadership. Above all, leaders must separate the objectives of the sales organization from the results they achieve. Revenue and profit are often the main objectives pursued in sales. But these parameters are the result of creating a useful sales process for your customers, which provides great sales force.
3. Align your sales organization with your strategy.
Every sales call determines the success or failure of your go-to-market strategy. In research Development leaderMany CEOs are always in sales Naturally It is further away from the C-suite than other functions, but the sales function is very close to marketing. If you accept the natural distance between sales and leadership, you’ve acknowledged a huge—and expensive—distance between leadership and customers.
It’s up to executives to engage more strategically with their sales organization. My research shows that most sales teams have little understanding of their company’s strategy – 4.2 on a scale of 1-10. Because the sales force is the executioner of your strategy, it’s a big risk for growth purposes. This execution happens hundreds or even thousands of times every day. This is a huge collection of victories or death by a thousand cutters.
Spend time with your sales leaders and frontline salespeople to make sure they understand your strategy and what it means to execute that strategy in the field. Be clear about the right type of business and the type of business to stay away from. Help them realize the results and outcomes you believe your new products, services and capabilities and solutions will deliver for them. Reinforce that the sales organization’s role is not just to produce numbers, but to create a valuable sales experience for customers. Do that well, and the numbers will follow.
If your business depends on a sales organization to connect with your customers, growth and sales are inextricably linked. One of the most predictable failures for companies is the lack of communication between management, strategy and sales. Address these three critical topics with your sales organization and you’ll be not only afloat, but on your way to growth.
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