We, at Acumen Partners, have had the opportunity to work with many talented people across all walks of life and industry. Our team has been associated with many great organizations. Recently, we have had conversations with senior leaders from across various business landscapes and have discussed the challenges executives and their sales teams face in achieving their primary revenue goals. This challenge, as we all know, is nothing new! Revenue Challenges come at different times within an organization and often wear different cloaks.
One of the biggest challenges facing companies today, regardless of their size and maturity, is Change, Challenge, Complexity and Competition – the 4 C’s. For this discussion, we will focus on Change and Challenge- both intersect with each other regardless of which comes first. Companies are constantly being confronted with change in the market landscape. This change demands evidence of proof that their solution is the best and constitutes the highest value proposition. Today’s prospect base is more resistant to change than five years ago, and doesn’t buy into the “Pilot” approach – unless they win! (Remember the free hotel stay if you attended a time share meeting?) As more and more products and solutions look and feel similar and the total cost of desired value cannot be determined at the point of sale, many customers do not see the unique value proposition of an organizations products or services.
One question we ask every organization we meet with is “Are your revenue goals aligned with your sales objectives?” We will often get blank stares, heads turning at the very thought of “why would you ask such a fundamental question.” The next question we ask is, “How many times a year does your organization have to adjust the budget to achieve revised revenue goals?” The last question we ask is “Does your competition know your products and solutions better than your customer base?“
If one or more of these questions raises your brow; then in most cases, there is a misalignment of revenue goals to sales objectives in your organization.
As you know many companies will take a quick fix approach and look for a silver bullet to correct their current situation. Where does the “Silver Bullet” come into play and what might it look like in your organization?
- New packaging or an updated release on dated products/ services with new messaging that adds perceived value
- New email campaigns that will add to the email fatigue your targeted audience is experiencing currently
- Additional training or boot camp for sales teams
- Short-term bonus programs that encourage short-term sales incentives
- One time price concessions – especially at the end of the year to magically help achieve revenue goals
How many of these silver bullets have been fired from the same old gun? As we know the only silver bullet that work is the one that can kill the werewolf.
One of the ways to be sure you are in alignment with Revenue goals and sales objectives is to ask your executive team the following:
- As a company are we doing the Right Things to ensure our business remains agile, growing and profitable? You don’t have to be the #1 company in your space to have growth and be profitable.
- Is your company and department executing your objectives in the Right Way? Does your company have the desire, discipline and dedication to be the best at what you do? Can you benchmark your success in comparison to the best companies that are recognized in their perspective industry?
- Is your team and its members positioned correctly in their current and or ideal role? Do you have the Right Team? Many times, companies pull people from one area of expertise to fill gaps in others. Or add to their current load of projects in hopes to close that gap. Unfortunately, in many cases that person’s true conative skills go dormant and their overall production can be minimized and or lost!
Our experience in advising organizations has shown that taking a data-driven approach to your company’s strategic initiatives in today’s ever-changing and challenging business environment will drive the right sales behaviors within your organization. Acumen Partners proprietary software DataSlice provides our clients with the unique opportunity to benchmark their internal data and compare and contrast to over 7000 similar companies with similar products and company size. We give our clients an independent data rich insight into how they are positioned within the market space and where they may have challenges within their sales team, revenue goals and sales objectives. Our team employs six common data points that are crucial to sales organizations.
- Culturally, is your Organization in Alignment? Does each department, particularly sales, have a clear understanding of their sales plans and quota obligations. Does your executive team cross pollinate and mix with each other on a regular basis to ensure mutual outcomes are achieved?
- Market Landscape – Companies sell their products in three flavors depending upon their life cycle in the market space -product driven, market driven and sales driven. Which flavor are you and which flavor does your customer base and competition think you are? If you don’t know which one you are and your customer base isn’t sure, your competition has the edge. – How will your ambassadors or sales team know how best to position your product.
- Relationship to Territory Equity and Sales-Output – The cost of business increases and your ‘A’ sales players are thirsting for new territory due to over penetration in their current territory. How do you establish new and equitable territories vs expansion of territories? Next, how do you cultivate and maintain high renewals? Figure this out, and then comes the chess game as to where to position you’re a players into, a. territories of high opportunity, b. territories with limited growth but expansion opportunities and c. territories that should be the focus of inside sales or telemarketing groups.
- Coaching and Training – Another integral part of a company’s success is ensuring every department aligns with the other and that every team member has a roadmap and company playbook to guide them through their sales objectives. Sales, Marketing, Product Management, Implementation and Operations all need to be ambassadors for your product or services. Ensure each of your team members gives a brief pitch, highlighting the value of your products and services. Coach your executive team to make regular calls with your sales team and make sure they can model effective selling skills. Train your marketing team on what is an effective sales lead, a lead from a trade show versus a lead from an inbound request and how to utilize them as effectual leads?
- Compensation and Incentive Programs- Creating a balance between professional goals and personal goals – builds and drives sales behavior. This balance is a silver lining not a bullet. The key is maintaining realistic goals and not ‘nose bleed’ goals.
- Territory Tools – Another area that has made a lot of money for CRM companies but remains a nightmare for their IT departments and sales organizations is forecasting accuracy. If a company and their sales team do not have a defined model, with specific benchmarks, they might as well flip a coin.
In today’s competitive environment many companies, regardless of size and or maturity, succumb to the silver bullet theory. It comes in many shapes and forms but is often short lived as a ‘smoking gun’. The ability to align your revenue goals with your sales objectives takes work, communication between sales management and the executive team, and the ability to strategically connect the data to the market. Our Acumen Partners team would be happy to discuss how you can ensure your organization is connecting the most current and relevant data to today’s market.