Thu, 17 Mar 2011 22:01:12 GMT
Last year (early 2010) as we met with many of our clients and friends to discuss their plans for growth we asked these executives about their approach to selling. This year, we have had follow on conversations with most of these same executives as well as several additions who worked for organizations with exceptional success during the year.
(If you didn’t receive or don’t recall our prior publication, please let me know. Just email, firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “selling cultures” and we’ll immediately respond.)
Last year, many of the executives we spoke with were optimistic, in varying degrees, about 2010 and beyond. Asked about how they would address the recovery, most responded that they have already or would take early steps to accelerate sales. A few appeared confident enough that their businesses would improve that they wouldn’t take any exceptional actions to drive sales – they were willing to wait for the rising tide to lift all ships, including theirs.
So, what happened?
While no one pervasive action or combination appears to be a universally applicable “silver bullet”, the organizations most committed to accelerating sales achieved increases of up to 3X more than those who appeared willing to wait for the rising tide. Common threads appear to be:
- A leader or leadership team with excellent communication skills who genuinely believes in the organization, people, processes and products appears to create an environment for above average sales growth.
- A new executive (or a new role for a current executive) who is an observable game changer and provided a catalyst for improvement. For more detail about the characteristics of a true game changer, please email email@example.com with the subject line “game changer”.
- An apparent correlation between success and rebranding, refreshing or repositioning a brand. Acquisitions, restructuring and team lift outs, without the addition of a game changer, appeared to be distracting to the overall success of the business even though some produced favorable financial performance for the entire enterprise.
- A counter intuitive observation in the correlation between sales success and selling expense including a reduction in actual rewards to sales and marketing professionals. In at least 10% of our conversations we heard exceptionally negative comments about the relationship of sales success to compensation and yet these organizations experienced above market sales success. Neither product performance nor pricing appears to have been a major factor. We believe these were exceptional sales professionals who were committed to “getting it done”.
Some organizations observed that sales growth occurred and was immediately profitable. Others observed that selling expenses exceeded budgets but expected on-going revenues to more than offset the higher costs. Only one firm reported that they were having a hard time rationalizing their results which included higher selling expense and lower than projected new revenues.
As we completed these conversations, we spoke with quite a number of executives about transitions and transformations in their own careers and in their current organizations. If you have a unique experience or success, we would like to know about it. If you have observed or been part of a failed transition, we would appreciate you sharing your experience. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “success and failure”.
Our sample was too small for statistical credibility but most of the observations appear to be consistent with reasonable expectations. As you consider actions which can enhance your selling effectiveness, please do not hesitate to contact our team.