New Year’s Resolutions for Sales Organizations
“As we turn the calendar to meet the new year, it’s naturally time to consider what we would like to change or achieve, that maybe we didn’t quite accomplish last year. I think it’s appropriate to go through the same process for how we enable and manage our selling organizations.
To anchor this process, let me state very clearly that buyers are buying very differently in today’s world. As we enter 2022, I believe there is an urgent need, and indeed an opportunity, for many sales organizations to embrace these new trends and start selling differently. Yet I see far too many sales organizations still using approaches and ideas that were born in the 1980’s. That was a different time, when sellers were more connected to buyers, and buyers more dependent upon sellers: when we could follow a sales process, give offering presentations to prospects, find the decision maker, and call high.
The game has changed. We must move on from “steam driven” selling and adopt more modern sales approaches.
My challenge is simple: check out the characteristics of steam driven and modern selling I have listed below, and simply consider which characteristics most describe what is actually happening in your sales organization and which describe your vision for 2022.
If you find yourself wishing for the results of modern selling, the transformation from is easier than you may think. The #1 inhibitor that I see preventing the jump from steam selling practices is simply the willingness to let go of old habits… which takes me back to New Year’s resolutions. They too often fail simply due to old habits being hard to kick. Sound familiar? Because I see it again and again – sales approaches, processes, and forecasting tools that don’t create the expected results, and yet organizations go on trying to make them work, even investing more time into them.
So, let’s take January to evaluate where your sales organization is, and where you would like it to be. Again, use my check list to circle what you see that you would like to let go of, and then underscore the characteristics you would you like to adopt. Make it your New Year’s resolution to let go of old habits and move to the new world of selling. At the very least, let this list provide some direction and priority to your 2022 initiatives and investments.
And, if you need any help – give me a call.”
– Martyn Lewis, Principal & Founder of Market-Partners Inc.
Steam Driven Sales Organizations
Sales and marketing that is still operating in a manner that was only effective in a different era of buying.
☐ Sales pursuing anything they think is an opportunity.
☐ Sales activity tends to be reactive.
☐ High percentage of customer facing time is focused to educating the prospect.
☐ Sales activity is measured primarily by quantity and not quality.
☐ Sales using collateral in individual and ad-hoc ways.
☐ Pipeline and sales activity based on a sales process.
☐ Lack of pipeline transparency and integrity.
☐ Forecast probabilities tied to stages of the sales pipeline leading to gaming and the pipeline being more of a forecasting report.
☐ Ineffective forecasting approaches with unreliable results.
☐ Marketing content tends to focus on product attributes, features, and capabilities.
☐ Much effort being expended by many with a lack of focused direction, clear priorities.
☐ More attention placed on late-stage opportunities.
☐ Sales and marketing disconnect.
☐ Mysterious gaps between MQLS and SQLs.
☐ Sales management spends 25%+ of time in reporting and reacting to demands of management and/or marketing.
☐ Sales managers coach on a sporadic basis, and its more about telling and showing their team what to do, and primarily focused on those that they consider “need help.”
☐ Sales typically engage late in the Buying Journey.
☐ Sales opportunities tend to stick in the sales pipeline.
☐ Too many sales opportunities seem to be lost to “no decision.”
☐ Many situations end up in price negotiations and discounting.
☐ Buyers fail to truly differentiate the offering over the alternative they are considering.
Modern Sales Organizations
Sales and marketing that is designed around the customer, enabled by technology, and forges more intimate relationships within specific markets.
☐ Sales calls are planned and focused on supporting and positively managing the customer through their overall Buying Journey.
☐ Communication with customers is intelligent, personalized, and managed.
☐ AI and technology tools are used to meet buyers with specific content meeting them where they are within the digital universe.
☐ Sales consistently use territory, account, and pipeline planning approaches to organize and prioritize their time and activities.
☐ Sales time is invested wisely into the sales opportunities that are most likely to yield business results.
☐ The sales process and pipeline are totally focused on the steps of the specific market’s Buying Journey.
☐ Sales pipelines and forecasting approaches that reflect the reality of the Buying Journey.
☐ Sales pipelines that offer transparency and accuracy being used as an everyday tool to prioritize and manage sales activity.
☐ Clear understanding of the specific market’s end-to-end customer Buying Journey life cycle.
☐ The selling approach and pipeline is based on the steps of the specific customer Buying Journey, and not those of an internal sales process.
☐ Clear roles and responsibilities, with differing roles optimized around different activities across the life cycle of the buyer.
☐ Data driven market segmentation and focused sales deployment.
☐ Focused, repeatable, scalable, and measurable processes.
☐ Alignment between sales and marketing to the strategy and the overall market engagement approach.
☐ Marketing content is developed to address the concerns of various roles across the steps of the market’s specific Buying Journey.
☐ Sales managers are competent and consistent in the use of a true performance coaching model and utilize it with all the interactions they have with each of their team members.
☐ Immediate sharing and use of best practices across the organization.
☐ Forecasting and pipeline management is viewed as a productive business management approach and not as unproductive administration.
☐ Sales calls are not focused on presenting information about the company and its offerings to the customer, but rather on supporting the customer throughout their Buying Journey.
☐ Customers view the selling team as experts and value their input and guidance.
☐ Customers engage the selling team early in the overall buying process and look upon them as a valuable resource.
☐ Customers remain connected to the selling team throughout their entire Buying Journey lifecycle.
☐ Customers would view the selling team’s activities and approaches as a major differentiator.