When the Internal Sale is Harder than the External Sale

March 30, 2015
Author: Bill Wallace
Internal Sale Harder Than External Sale

Salespeople will generally agree that it is often harder to sell internally within your own company than it is to sell externally to a client. Don’t agree? Candidly ask the opinion of several salespeople that you trust. If their answer is yes, you have a key challenge within your company that is putting a tremendous drag on revenue generation. 

Still unsure? Perhaps you’ve experienced one of the following:

  • Frequent disagreements from your functional leaders on items that should be easily remedied
  • Failure to achieve targeted revenue goals despite continued investment in training, compensation, pricing adjustments, or product/solution development
  • Finger pointing and general dysfunction
  • Higher than average turnover within your sales or support functions

This competitive liability will only get worse as time goes by. The longer you delay in resolving the core cause, the more toxic your environment will become. Furthermore, if you fail to reverse this death-spiral, you will waste precious returns on your sales recruiting, training investment, and leadership tenure. In essence, you will be building competitive advantage for your competition!
Another compounding problem is that no one wants to discuss the 800-pound gorilla hurting your organization. Functional leaders may not understand the linkages between their functions and the role they should play in generating revenue. To be clear, the revenue generation within your organization is not simply the responsibility of your sales team. Marketing, Finance, Legal, Service, Operations, HR, and other supporting functions are responsible for enabling the sales team to execute and create revenue. When organizations are compartmentalized, the functional leadership is often NOT in alignment. 

While simple to understand, this challenge is difficult to diagnose, isolate, and reverse. It cannot be resolved through team building, increasing the frequency of communication, training, personality assessments, or other traditionally prescribed interventions. Each of these may help create incremental gains in performance, but none of them will create exponential results that are sustainable. The reason these traditional approaches don’t work is that you cannot align your functional leaders to each other; you can only align them to a specific Go-to-Market Strategy.
Selecting and aligning to a Go-to-Market Strategy is the key to improving your culture and performance. This is the bridge between your business plan and your markets. Answering the questions below will help you triangulate which strategy is right for your organization:

  • What type of sales and support people do you need to execute the mission? What competencies and attributes are critical for success? What does good look like? 
  • What is the basis of your innovation in the market? Are you selling products or solutions? What are the expectations of the functions supporting the sales organization?
  • What is your overall value proposition? Who are you targeting? How do your clients value your company’s contribution?
  • What does your brand stand for? What are the attributes of your organization? What perception do you want to create with the key decision makers in your target markets?
  • How are you positioned against your competitors and their Go-to-Market Strategies? Are you able to capitalize on your differences or are you at a disadvantage? 

The good news is that the more aligned your organization becomes, the greater ease you will experience in creating the results that you envision and know are possible. Imagine a relatively frictionless environment where each functional leader understands the Go-to-Market Strategy and synergy between groups is created; where revenue is generated in a much more seamless and effortless manner; where you attract and retain top-tier sales and leadership talent; and where the power of the company is completely aligned behind your sales efforts. By clarifying your Go-to-Market Strategy and fostering open and honest communication among functional leadership, you’re on your way to eliminating the causes of organizational drag and accelerating your revenue performance.

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