Focus on 3 cultures to win the prize hidden in an aligned organisation.

  • 56% of aligned organisations met their revenue goals, and 19% beat their goals. Among misaligned organisations, by comparison, just 37% met their revenue goals, and just 7% beat them. (Act-On Sales & Marketing Alignment Survey, 2015)
  • Aligned organisations achieve up to 19% faster revenue growth – and 15% higher profitability than other companies. (SiriusDecisions, 2015)
  • 58% of companies with a high degree of profitability relative to their rivals report that the CEO has ownership of customer experience management. (Genysis)

Understanding the value in alignment is the difference between good organisations and great ones. They know the value it brings, the behaviours they want to see and invest the time they need to to make it happen. From top to bottom, permeating all departments, the sales culture is highly visible, appreciable, and palpable

Imagine every employee in your company knows exactly how their job delivers profit to the bottom line & which activities they perform in their daily work to support the sales effort. Do you think you would see greater team working? Better engagement? More sales? I sure do!

The “top table” sets the standard & is the heartbeat of a business; if getting more sales & keeping customers aren’t the two most important things to the senior staff, why would any other employee see it any differently? Without being deliberate & integrating sales activities, behaviours & processes into every employees daily routine, operational silos will always appear. Unintentionally, these silos divert effort away from sales & customer experience, directly impacting the company’s performance.

I highlight 3 areas which, with a better appreciation of, will positively impact on organisational alignment & business performance;

A company culture 

The average tenure of a B2B sales person is now at an alarming 16.8 months with less than 5% of sales people staying with a company for more than 5 years (Sales Hacker).

This means that a buyer does not have the ability to invest in the traditional relationship as they may have previously done. Instead they invest in the seller’s company. As long as the seller’s company continually brings insight & opportunity that the buyer had not yet considered, or the buyer sees a high value, the company will continue to hold a position of trust. This trust, however, is paper thin as buyers now prefer to buy online, gaining greater discounts as they are dealing with lower cost channels.

This change in transactional buying behaviour is why executives & owners of a company have to step up their attention to winning more sales & retaining customers. Remember that 60% of a buying decision is already made before a buyer formally enters the sales process (if they enter it at all).

This evolution in buyer behaviour requires an evolution in executive & business owner behaviour. They need to take a leadership role in aligning the organisation because a sales person can no longer go alone as they once could.

Therefore, the role of the executive becomes important in connecting the value chain & creating a frictionless alignment between internal teams, ensuring they are effective in the creation & delivery of insight & value led propositions.

This makes the needs for tactics like Executive Shadow Programs that develop long-term relationships at the C-suite level in the customers organisation & Account Core Teams that bring other departments to the account plan discussions, even more important in the delivery of new & innovative offers.

Sales & Marketing culture

Sales and marketing alignment delivers, on average, a 36% improvement in customer retention and 38% higher sales-win rates (Act-On/Gleanster,“The New Stewards Of The Customer Relationship,” 2015). So why does this still remain one of the biggest areas of untapped value in an organisations?

I believe a reason is DNA. Sales & Marketing come form different gene pools & I continue to be confronted by the stark differences within the personality types of Sales & Marketing professionals. This difference is one of the reasons they blame each other for the poor results or stand up to take the glory of a good outcome. Ever heard something like this; “Sales can’t sell because they just don’t understand the proposition well enough” or “the propositions from marketing are just the same as everybody else so we end up selling on price”.

Another reason is likely to be structure & again tradition. If you have someone leading Sales & someone leading Marketing, do you not think they are driving individual agendas to some degree, specifically if your are setting the differing goals & objectives. Perhaps now is the time to combine these roles & think of how a CRO (Chief Revenue Officer) might create better alignment & outcomes?

This is not easy to do, or more companies would be pushing at 38% higher win rates, but my experiences leads me to these three steps to create clarity on who does what & therefore leading to more successful outcomes;

* Define ownership of the steps in the Sales Pipeline. Marketing is usually responsible for the first steps building brand awareness, creating a marketing plan, and generating sales leads. Then Sales executes the marketing plan and follows up on the sales leads. It’s important to build a feedback loop to take on board learning for integrating into future propositions & lead generation activities. This division of responsibility is simple and it prevents Marketing from getting too involved in individual sales opportunities at the expense of more the strategic activities they are employed to deliver on.

* Sales and Marketing share responsibility for revenue objectives so why not share the responsibility for the delivering the revenue. It goes back to my DNA point. If you ask them to be accountable for different objectives they will continually be able to blame each other. I know this might create some challenges around your pay structures, but, this alignment will be sure to put these growth engines on the same track.

* Integrate Sales and Marketing metrics. Sales metrics are easier to define and track for sure, but, the need for common metrics becomes critical as Marketing becomes more embedded in the sales process and as Sales plays a more active role in Marketing.

A recognition culture 

When asked what leaders could do more of to improve engagement, 58% of respondents replied “give recognition.” (Psychometrics, A Study of Employee Engagement in the Canadian Workplace 2010)Choosing the right sales incentives to motivate a team can be a challenge. As on one hand, they need to be exciting enough to motivate a sales force to do something different. On the other hand, they also need to fit within a company’s budget.

For Sales Incentives you should consider these 3 categories;

Job-Related Incentives – This incentive should be something “sexy” enough to get a salesperson excited but at the same time also have the potential to positively impact the salesperson’s productivity. The salesperson wins by getting a neat toy that helps them to work more productively to drive more results. The company wins because the prize not only motivates the salesperson to work harder to earn it but also because it will ultimately make them more effective.

Tangible Incentives – While offering a Cadillac or set of steak knives as prizes backfired in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, tangible sales incentives can be extremely effective motivators. The secret is to choose a prize that the members of a sales force want and likely wouldn’t buy on their own.

Experiential Incentives – Experiences impact happiness more than purchases & the memories live longer. Who wouldn’t be excited about a few days in Dubai or a week in Monaco? There’s a reason that travel and experiences are such popular sales incentives is that they work. And there’s a way you can squeeze more performance out of an experiential incentive by creating a sales competition that has a team experience.

Getting these 3 cultures right will help you win the prize that is hidden in a better aligned organisation

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Steve Knapp Sales Coaching & Sales Consultancy

Steve Knapp is the Founder and Owner of Steve Knapp Sales & Corporate Director in the Association of Professional Sales. With 30+ years of B2B successful sales, sales management and sales leadership experience. Steve created The 5 Principles of Sales Excellence & has used this to drive sustained sales performance in one of the most successful companies in the world. To discuss your sales requirements contact Steve on [email protected]

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