Sales Team Readiness

by Chris Fletcher

In the Growth Acceleration Readiness Framework we've discussed, their are 8 dimensions to successful sales growth.  As you may recall, the 8 dimensions are:

  1. Sales team readiness

  2. Marketing awareness and their readiness

  3. Customer success readiness

  4. Pre-sales readiness

  5. Product integration and its capabilities to integrate into an Enterprise solution

  6. Business impact on an understanding

  7. External Partnerships to expand sales

  8. Finally the change horizon; how quickly, as a management team of your organization, do you want to get to those large deals?

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Let's address sales team readiness and how investing in this area can improve your place on the maturity curve over time..


This is an area that perhaps you would consider an obvious one!  How ready is your sales team, or are you as a sales representative,  to take on larger deals and really sell an Enterprise Solution?  I've heard many people say,  “I have a sales team, they sell to Enterprise customers, so we have already got that covered!”  This is a fallacy - keep reading, and I’ll show you why.

  

You are selling one small deal, you get your first logo;  this is a good thing, every startup needs those new logos and certainly it is a key measure of success when expanding into a new market. That's not the same as being Enterprise sales ready, and not an indication that you have the skills to create and sell large deals.  A common mistake.

There are a number of pillars that go into being sales ready from an Enterprise perspective. They are account planning, large deal creation, effective communication and business acumen.

Lots of sales managers will talk about account planning, and the need to do it better.   Just muttering those words, will make most sales people cringe!   There's a perception that this is a huge effort and can turn into a form filling exercise.  In the past, I have seen many sales people create huge documents, taking many months to do it,  and then the document is put in a drawer that nobody references it.  Very frustrating, and key time is taken away from customer facing interactions that are necessary to build relationships and new sales pipeline.  Instead I recommend taking the approach of a nimble account planning strategy and there are certainly some easy techniques that you can leverage to do so. Don't use the idea that this is a long drawn-out process to avoid true account planning.   Another key aspect to account planning is to select the right accounts.  Think of it as the Pareto principle, the 80/20 rule. Not every account can be a major account that you focus your time, resources and efforts upon.  Focus, focus, focus!  Have a small number of them,  think 20% or less,  that meet a certain criteria for your business success.  These accounts will  make up-to 80% of your revenue.   Understanding the value that you bring to your customers from a true ROI perspective, is a critical success factor to determining the “right” accounts.  We will address this requirement in our “Business Impact” dimension discussion, and you will begin to see that these dimensions all have a key role to play in successfully selling large deals, into your customer base.

Effective communication skills often need improving to position any value proposition correctly, and will impact your ability to create a large deal.  It sounds “fluffy” doesn’t it?  It’s not.  If you don’t work on these as a key factor of your success, it doesn’t matter how smart you are, how many $50,000 or $100,000 deals you have closed, you won’t sell a large deal!  Its interesting, as this is not taught in many schools today, so unless you had the opportunity to participate in a debating team at school, these are skills that you probably don’t have, but need. What is important to realize is that they can may be learnt, practiced, and refined!  

Business acumen is an area that again is often passed over.  As with effective communication skills in sales, business acumen sets you apart from your competition.  Why?  Because people buy from people - not just because you are a likeable type of person, its because you can bring value and an engaging conversation about their business.  You do not need to be an expert - no sales person is going to know more about a prospect, than those working at that prospect.  However, the key is to use some simple and nimble techniques to improve your business acumen, to be curious, and with the objective of adding value.  This does not mean that you need to agree with your prospect or customer. Many sales people agree with their customer as they believe it will make them likeable. This is a no-NO!  People do not buy from you because you agree with them, they buy from you because you offer a solution to a problem they have. Business acumen gives you the grounding to to understand that problem and help solve it. This is value where the value is!  


The acronym I like to use is “FABE”

Focus on the "Right" Accounts

Account Plan in a "Nimble" fashion - use key techniques to quickly plan and execute

Use Business Acumen to be curious, professional and challenge the status quo

Use Effective Communication - to position your value in your prospects terms


There are many methods that can be applied to increase your Sales Team Readiness maturity. At huerdo, we provide consulting services to help you identify where you are on the maturity curve and roadmap a strategy that optimizes your growth ability. This strategy will define nimble methods to use in your environment, and when to employ them. We also offer Sales mentoring for the individual who wants to grow their Sales Career and exceed their targets.

Chris Fletcher is a Managing Partner at huerdo and can be reached at chris_fletcher@huerdo.com.