The accelerated changes that have transpired within the business environment demand sales organizations make adaptations that many are poorly equipped to do. The shift in client / prospect focus, goals, and key initiatives have made many traditional sales approaches antiquated and useless. It is more imperative now, than ever, to gain access to senior executives. Decisions are being driven higher in their organizations. These decisions are more scrutinized, client resources have decreased, and our results are suffering.
The most in demand currency by the clients / prospects in your base is ideas. This business environment is new to everyone. We are all searching for answers. Executives are using their best instincts, available data, and internal guidance to make critical decisions. What they lack is valuable, outside perspective. This is the opportunity for your team to fill the gap!
How? Your team needs to master the art of “creative disruption” to help your client executives think differently about their business, processes, and markets. The current market disruption has resulted in a fertile field for sharing research, points of view, and counsel. If they fail to do this, your competition may well achieve a more dominant position.
Helping your sales organization attack the changing market requires them to think courageously and to generate BOLD ideas. It goes beyond creativity. It is here that you can establish the cultural environment where you elevate their thinking. Thinking of your organization, what capabilities do you have that are not being leveraged? How do you increase the scope of your team’s thinking? How can you bring greater value to your clients / prospects? How do you elevate your status? Let these six steps be your guide:
- Articulation – Ensure your people understand the recent changes, goals, and key initiatives within their target clients and prospects. It must be a requirement for each person to articulate the client / prospect priorities and direction. If not, that becomes their first assignment. You should be able to randomly ask your people about a client / prospect’s key initiatives or goals and expect to have an immediate reply. Make this part of your organization’s DNA. It is the cornerstone to helping you change the approach and, ultimately, the culture, of your sales organization.
- How Can You Help – Help your people determine what your company can do to help the client / prospect achieve these goals and initiatives. Hosting ideation sessions where the team can brainstorm ideas around solutions, services, and bold approaches is the key. Include all members of the team. Technical resources, delivery teams, and other client facing members can all make valuable contributions.
- Outcomes – Ask your team to think about the outcomes. Executives do not buy products or services. They buy ideas, and most importantly, anticipated results. This is vital and will require you to “reprogram” much of the product / solution training they have absorbed. The guiding question for your team is: What BOLD idea can we put on the table to help the client accomplish their goals and initiatives?
- Who – Help your team understand who they need to target to expand their relationships. They key is to coach them to think outside of the “usual suspects.” Pushing them to think about targets in different functions, geos, segments, or divisions will quickly expand their thinking about matching the outcomes to the people that might have the greatest interest. Doing so also increases their business acumen and their political knowledge. Challenge them to leverage their existing relationships with Supporters and Partner Allies to help create the necessary access.
- Story – Help your people craft a compelling story that outlines their idea in the most concise manner with a strong message and intense focus on the outcomes and results that can be attained. These stories must be clear, powerful, and memorable. Branding the story also makes it memorable, which is highly important.
- Execution – Execution is one of your most important tasks as a leader. Nothing matters if a great plan is poorly executed. You must work with each of your people / teams to determine what will happen within the next 90 days. Communicate the expectations and assign them the responsibility of developing the attack plan around clearly defined milestones. Ask them to collaborate and then present their plans so you can coach them and continue to refine them.
Once you have taken your team through the six steps, you will need to establish a coaching cadence. Every two weeks, meet with your team to understand the progress, obstacles, learning, and status. Going through the process of developing BOLD ideas for their clients / prospects will quickly enhance their skills, knowledge, business acumen, and pipeline. Make sure you celebrate success. New executive contacts, successful presentations, development of political Supporters and Partner Allies, as well as new opportunities should be recognized and shared. This, ultimately, results in a changed culture and a “success spiral” that will yield sustainable revenue production, regardless of the business environment.
Immediately take your people through the six steps to building a BOLD Idea. Consider making it competitive. Be sure to share best practices. Recognize and celebrate successes big and small. Stick with it to shift the culture.