Recently I co-hosted a discussion with Ed Marsh, from Consilium Global Business Advisors, at the annual PMMI conference. We discussed the challenge of building international sales teams with a group of 100 plus CEO’s and business leaders from the packaging machinery industry.
As manufacturers and integrators, they face product development, support and sales challenges. They typically sell through channels and distribution, so the question that I heard the loudest and clearest was, “How do you control and manage people and organizations that don’t report to you?”
While this is a valid question, it misses the mark. Two better questions are, “How do I know whether or not the people whom I need to manage can be managed?" and "What limits their ability to execute?” The assumption is, "If we find partners that have technical acumen and relationships with the companies we targeted, then sales will follow."
Consider the following data, based on the evaluation of 650K salespeople worldwide, by Objective Management Group:
- 6% of salespeople are Elite
- 60% Make Excuses
- 45% Are Not Self-Starters
- 90% Have Unsustainable Pipelines
- 55% Lack Urgency
If you understand the real impact which sales leaders have on their sales teams, including how well their sales management infrastructure is developed, it becomes clear that success requires a much more hands-on approach. Historically, channel partners have been resistant to allowing the companies which they represent to hold them accountable. Unfortunately, many manufactures have accepted this as “the way it is”, only condoning the issue.
Over the last five years, I have worked closely with Vistage International and their new chair community. As former CEOs, the majority of them don’t come from the sales world, rather they are from operations, finance, technology and science. Fully embracing and driving the critical disciplines required to develop a world-class sales organization are not common experiences or competencies. As an illustration, how many undergraduate or graduate level degrees or even individual courses have you encountered that are dedicated to professional sales? Academically, it’s a virtual desert. Combine this with a technically-oriented, operationally-driven CEO and it’s pretty obvious why rep companies and distribution partners have been allowed to control the relationship and many aspects of a company’s sales success.
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