I recently talked with a CEO of a mid-sized software company looking to hire a new sales VP. The conversation quickly turned to strategies for assessing sales management candidates and the need the CEO had to better understand the skills and expertise of the entire sales team. He validated a lot of what I'm seeing in other organizations -- the skills of his sales team are shifting (i.e., salespeople need to sell differently).
To summarize the conversation, he wasn’t sure if the sales managers he had in the sales organization were the right people to help the sales organization achieve the vision set forth by senior leadership as they moved to a more consultative selling motion. Additionally, he wasn’t sure what "type of sales VP" he wanted to bring in to replace the other sales VP he just let go. He was really concerned with making sure the new sales VP would execute toward the end state vision for success.
All change is not growth; all movement is not forward.
-- Ellen Glasgow
Sales teams are changing (or have changed already!)
Sales transformation requires some sort of new action and behaviors from reps and managers. Investments in time and effort to change the actions and behaviors of sales team members require a long-term strategy for sales success. More importantly, that strategy needs to be built "outside-in" with the customer as the design point.
For example, a strategy to optimize consultative selling and transactional selling models at the same time requires an adjustment of content, skills, and tools within the team. While there are many other strategies at play in this newly emerging economic reality, one thing's for sure, transformation needs to happen at the individual level.
I often have to remind Sales Enablement professionals we're in the business to make the value communication vehicle more effective and efficient -- and sometimes we have to take a "one person at a time" approach.
To help any change take hold in the trenches, you have to focus on the individual at some point. To support change at this individual level, we have to recognize the strategic importance of creating a culture that is supportive of those changes.
When it comes to creating a culture, I often hear Sales Enablement professionals striving for a "sales coaching culture." In talking with them, I discovered many have a strong belief that a sales coaching culture creates a more collaborative and adaptive team.
Have you noticed? A lot of help is heading toward the sales team these days. I've been thinking alot about all the help the sales team gets. I mean, it can come from different areas of the organization like product groups, marketing teams, or sales leadership. And it can come in the form of product or skills training, playbooks, tools, or technology (to name a few).