CEO lens on the revenue performance problem – Psst…it’s about the system

 

Three years ago, we asked our CEO, George Colony, to interview other CEO’s about their opinions of their sales force.   One of those questions he asked was “are you satisfied that your sales force is getting your company to its strategic objectives?”

What do you think the answer was?

Out of 40 CEO’s he interviewed, 39 said “No.”

We spent a lot of time asking our clients – who are Sales and Marketing leaders – what they thought that meant, and the bulk of them believed it was about the sales force not delivering quarterly results. 

This highlighted a big gap in perspective. 

You see, in many ways what the CEO is selling is different than what the rest of the organization is – he’s selling the stock, which is a reflection of the future, whereas the rest of the organization is focused on selling the various products and services in the company’s portfolio with a quarterly event horizon.  Thus, if the people carrying out the strategy are more focused on the here and now and the CEO has a more forward lean in his head – you can see how this can create the recipe for major friction in the execution of the business strategy.

At the beginning 2011 we framed this problem like this:  The selling system is not adapting quickly enough to accommodate the changing business strategy.

Throughout 2011 and 2012, we spent a tremendous amount of time investigating what a “selling system” really means and the implications of the rate of adaptation.  Here are some highlights:

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Bending the Sales Productivity Curve in the Right Direction - Examples in our "cross selling" Track at our Forum (March 4-5)

 

During my keynote presentation, I will talk about new ways to bend the sales productivity curve and take a more strategic view of sales enablement – as always, the goal is to focus on bridging the gap between strategy and execution. 

 

One of those “new ways” involves thinking about “different patterns of perceived value” that your customers have about your organization and the role it plays in solving their problems.  Based on those patterns, you can create segments of “revenue streams.” 

Why break it down like that?  Well - not all of your clients want you to be their strategic partner – some even just want you to supply them with the same old products and services that you have been selling them for years.  You bend the productivity curve by matching the right sales model to these patterns of buyers and then optimizing the value chain behind sales to meet that value exchange requirement.  

Here’s what tends to happen – it’s one thing to realize this kind of segmenting is necessary, to move past the fantasy world that they are the strategic, trusted advisor for a majority of their customers, and realize they are stuck in different pockets (for example – in reality, they struggle to move outside of procurement, are stuck inside groups of IT buyers, or sales teams are told they don’t have permission to speak with executives).

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Getting Zen about Sales Enablement

 

When you put the word “sales” and “enablement” together – it sure can mean a lot of different things – to a lot of different people. 

As the Research Director on Forrester’s Sales Enablement team – it’s a problem I see every day. 

What’s entertaining about this (or aggravating, if you are a sales enablement professional inside a large company) is that not only do many people view those two combined words differently – many of those people are extremely confident their own perspective is the right one.  Given what we publish, the number of presentations we give, all of the cross-functional group settings we run into – you might imagine we’ve heard our fair share of strong opinions.

Here are a few highlights of my favorite “certainties:”

·         Sales enablement is just lipstick on a knowledge management pig.

·         Sales enablement is the new label for sales training.

·         Product marketers have been enabling sellers for years, what’s the big deal?

·         Sales people should be enabling themselves with all of the resources we provide them.

·         Marketing should own sales enablement, because it is clearly a content issue, and the sales force doesn’t have access to good content.

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Why You Should Attend Forrester's Sales Enablement Forum – March 4 and 5

 

Yes, the headline is a bit blunt…we are working so hard these days, weaving together our program for you, that my creative juices are a little fried. 

If you’ve been to one of our Sales Enablement forums – you know we put a lot of effort into ensuring a core event theme and message that’s solid, consistent, and woven throughout every presentation and session.  You also know we strive to create a cohesive community experience where you and your team can leave with strong new perspectives, a rolodex of new contacts, and a sense of purpose to help drive success at your company.

What I’d like to do is share with you some of what we have in store.

The title of our forum is: Accelerating Revenue in a Changed Economy.  Is this just hyperbole, or are we really up to something?

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Why You Should Attend Forrester’s Sales Enablement Forum – March 4 and 5

 

Yes, the headline is a bit blunt…we are working so hard these days, weaving together our program for you, that my creative juices are a little fried. 

If you’ve been to one of our Sales Enablement forums, you know we put a lot of effort into ensuring a core event theme and message that’s solid, consistent, and woven throughout every presentation and session.  You also know we strive to create a cohesive community experience where you and your team can leave with strong new perspectives, a rolodex of new contacts, and a sense of purpose to help drive success at your company.

What I’d like to do is share with you some of what we have in store.

The title of our forum is: Accelerating Revenue In A Changed Economy.  Is this just hyperbole, or are we really up to something?

As you know, we’ve been researching the growing divide between buyers and sellers now for the last four years.  Recently, however, we’ve been shining a brighter light into this chasm…and illuminating the gaps between the articulation of the corporate business strategy and the different tactics used by members of the executive committee to execute that strategy

What have we uncovered?

Well – to put it kindly – many of the tried-and-true tactics, successfully used by these leaders in the past, no longer work in today’s changed economy. 

Why? 

Major tectonic forces – such as the emergence of our “do more with less” economy and the increased empowerment of buyers – are having fundamental and transformative impacts on how B2B companies sell and market their products and services. 

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