You have a clearly articulated vision, well-defined revenue and profit goals, the right number of salespeople and a sales manager who’s committed to achieving the goals. There’s a weekly sales meeting to review the pipeline and opportunity strategy and the sales manager spends enough time with the salespeople and has a good understanding of individual strengths and weaknesses.
It’s logical to conclude you have a well-aligned sales organization, isn’t it? But how do you know this is true? What symptoms should you look for of unseen challenges and areas of misalignment?
Lets look at soft measurements. Do the salespeople bring in technical experts too early or too late? Are the correct meeting expectations being set prior to the technical staff getting involved? Have your salespeople invested enough in the internal staff and created a sense of partnership. Do you have some highly successful people whose maverick side is non-compliance?
CEO’s, particularly those who are not salespeople by heritage tend to delegate too much to the sales leader. They speak at important company events but often infrequently. Great CEO’s, who view their sales organization as strategic consistently reinforce their vision often in person, empower the sales leader and motivate the troops. To illustrate this do you invest as much of yourself in the sales organization as you do with your engineering team, operations staff or your banker?
Ask your salespeople to answer three questions independently.
- What is the brand promise of your company?
- What is the value proposition?
- What is their elevator pitch?
It is very likely you will find wide variations in the answers, which will surprise and disappoint you. Add the pressure of the moment to an individual salesperson delivery and things frequently get worse.
From a product perspective do your salespeople sell all of the products and services or do they focus on the ones they are comfortable with and believe in? Salespeople tell us in interviews they need to believe in what they sell. It is very likely that your sales force doesn’t “believe” in everything. It also likely they don’t own the value as defined by your pricing.
There is always room for improvement and you’ll never be perfect, but be careful not to conclude that alignment isn’t one of the challenges you face.