Sales Reps, Stop Asking Leading Questions
My latest article for Harvard Business Review deals with some of the overlooked challenges and nuances of the solution sale. To maximize the strategic potency of consultative selling, we have to move beyond a simplistic view of what it means to sell solutions and examine how the most effective sales professionals execute on this strategy.
Sales Transformation is Harder Than it Sounds
20 years ago, John Kotter wrote “Leading Change: Why transformation efforts fail.” At the time, it was hailed as the seminal work on business transformation. I recently re-read the article and noted many of the mistakes Kotter described still being made in companies today, despite the massive increase in literature and case studies around this topic. “Business transformation” has been a recurrent and much-discussed topic over the past two decades and it doesn’t look to stop. Just as with weight loss, a clearly defined process for transformation doesn’t produce equal results for every business.
In my experience, no business really transforms without a metamorphosis of sales. Because companies transform one new client at a time. Change happens with the acquisition of a new client or expansion of an existing one; it happens when you provide a product, service, or combination that clients have not bought before, and when you are paid a premium for new value offerings. This is “Transformation” with a capital T that shows up on your top line, your bottom line, and has the chance to impact the valuation of a company.
One predictable failure point happens when leaders don’t create pragmatic strategies that a sales organization can execute on. Strategies lack practical application when they are either:
1) A financial goal masquerading as a strategy (growth targets do not provide strategic direction to lead business transformation);
2) Too amorphous or vague to be implemented in a meaningful way (no one outside of the board room truly understands how the strategy applies to daily decisions); or
3) Overly focused on internal work streams at the expense of creating growth and value in the marketplace (inward focus can improve efficiency but it is insufficient to achieve true business transformation).
Last month, I published my latest white paper, Sales – Where Strategy Goes to Die, which highlights ways to address common strategy failures in relation to sales. You can read it here… and there is more coming on this topic.
I’ll be doing a Latin America speaking tour in the early fall. See this advertisement about The Hidden Leader in La República, The newspaper in Bogota, Columbia.
The events are being sponsored by getabstract, who produced a terrific 5 page summary of the book. (if you’d like a complimentary copy, reply to this message or send me an email asking for the summary and I’ll send it to you.) Details on dates to come.
A Slice of Life Balance
In all the busyness and rush of life, try hitting the Pause button quarterly. Many leaders I’ve spoken with comment that the year started fast and is picking up speed (“can you believe its April already?”) But you can slow it down a little, by giving yourself a few hours to take stock of how things went for you in the first quarter of 2017. These hours are not time to catch up on work. Rather, set aside this time to identify what’s on track for you and what isn’t. Some things are no doubt working well for you. Some of your “systems” (e.g. email, priority management, etc.) may need to be fine-tuned. Or maybe you need to re-evaluate how your health or diet routine is contributing to your energy levels or lack thereof. Perhaps a bit more connection to family or friends is missing. Some good categories to consider are Health, Relationships, Finances, State of Mind, Personal Growth and Development. Chose categories to evaluate that is important to you, and don’t wait until the year has flown by so quickly that you find yourself making New Year’s Resolutions on these topics.
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