Dr Brené Brown speaks powerfully about blame. If you find yourself looking for someone to blame for the weather, your lunch being a bit boring, or a client being unhappy, then Brené understands your pain.
The RSA brings her thoughts alive with a little animation. It’s well worth a watch.
Avoiding blame, looking for solutions; avoiding sympathy, focusing on empathy; and setting sensible boundaries are all great leadership qualities that are often overlooked in favour of more combative traits. Balance matters.
Through our ongoing project work we thought it timely to share what we are finding to be four areas of focus that seem to make a material difference to organisational sales performance.
The need for their (B2B) salespeople to reposition themselves further up the value chain away from what some CEOs call ‘commodity hell’. Salespeople as simply communicators and mediators for information between their organisation and the customer, combined with persuading the customer to buy sooner, more, or from them are fading fast. Salespeople are increasingly fulfilling the role of facilitator of co-created solutions, underpinned by building more long term strategic relationships.
The ongoing move to services. As markets become oversupplied with comparable products, differentiated services (at higher margins) are a very effective way of creating new revenue streams. What is interesting is that an organisations ability to ‘think services’ is very variable. When a service is simply a vehicle to drive more core product sales (like inclusive consultancy) the danger can be that the cost of providing that service grows at a faster rate than any (genuinely) additional revenues. Service revenues need to lead service costs. Organisations that are doing well in this area recognise they need to think differently, develop (import?) new capabilities and be comfortable about their business model potentially changing. Service development should be a journey of discovery.
Because of the problems of recruiting experienced, affordable, high quality salespeople the ‘toleration of mediocrity’ with incumbent sales performance is more common than you might think. Sales managers and directors would rather have a role inhabited rather than vacant. This argument may be defensible for a month or two but it very easily can become permanent, and then you have the issues of custom and practice. Unmanaged, average performance becomes the norm, any challenge to it looking like unfair, discriminatory practice. High performing organisations will carry the pain of a possible vacancy before their see mediocrity being institutionalised in their sales organisation.
The ongoing empowering of salespeople (or not) through effective deployment of technology systems. Like services this seems to be a defining and often connected issue. We are all now technology based organisations, think of how long you could function as a business without it switched on? Why then is it so hard for many sales organisations to have a single, joined up view of the customer, in real time? Sales organisations taking a strategic view of the technology are starting to see real competitive advantage emerge.