Warning: This is going to be a bit of a rant.
I once had a conversation with a senior executive in charge of sales at a large supply company. It didn’t go so well.
For starters, he was under tremendous pressure to drive a turnaround. North American sales had stagnated and the company was getting hammered by competitors. In fact, he had just spent $1M with a famous consulting company to get his strategy defined and ready to execute (note: nothing had executed yet).
Additionally, he had bought into the idea that he already knew everything, so talking with a consultant like me was, to him, something he was only doing because he had been asked to.
But the real sign that the conversation was not going to go anywhere was when we started talking about the problem he was trying to address. His first response was, “Problem? We don’t have any problems here.”
I quickly countered, “Fine. You just spent one million dollars with McKinsey. Why did you do that?”
“Well, we need to get the business to… (pause) oh, you’re good.”
Sigh. This is not the kind of dialogue I enjoy.
To jump ahead, I told him that all of his efforts needed to enable sales conversations. If those conversations didn’t happen, it didn’t matter what technology/process/training/marketing materials/compensation plan/etc. he was going to implement.
“So, how does your strategy enable sales conversations?” I asked.
His response? “I really don’t know, but I just spent a million dollars and I’m going to start there.”
And THIS is what’s wrong with most of the organizations I see. They are led by leaders who don’t know how to grow their business outside of generating new innovation. They deploy resources where they think they should go based on past habits and trendy business articles. They haven’t studied how healthy organizations create powerful sales engines. IF these leaders ever sold in their lives (and that’s a big IF), it was likely years ago when the economy – and their customers – were drastically different.
So, why am I ranting today? Because I want to see the narrative change. I want to see businesses thrive. I want to see people who are excited to go to work because sales are UP and the business is GROWING. I want to see delighted customers who think their suppliers are awesome and great to work with.
And if you are reading this, you VERY likely feel the same way. You want to see your company experience all of the above – and more. You see the disconnects and the self-inflicted wounds your company is experiencing. You know the leadership gap exists and you want to tackle it.
But the battle is just that – a battle. There’s chaos in the air and the ground is shaking.
Simply know this: I’m grateful to be able to share the foxhole with you. We’ll get there. I will do my best to give you the tools and arguments you need to change mindsets. And I am here to respond to your own rants and offer whatever support I can.
I mua. Onward and upward.
By Tim Ohai
PS If you or someone you know needs to get better performance from the sales team, let’s set up a conversation to talk about it. Get on my calendar here.