Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Are you a Sales Manager or a Sales Leader?



In a post on the HBR Blog network,  Vineet Nayar proposes as one of the criteria to distinguish managers from leaders their attitude towards value. Managers count value. Leaders create value.

How does someone in a management function in sales determine whether he/she counts or creates value?
In most B2B Sales organizations I know, there is a list of ”top deals”. The kind of deals listed thereon, and the questions asked in “cadence calls” to review the list, will indicate whether you count or create value.

You count value….
…when your list contains the biggest deals to be closed on short term.  You will have made sure that everyone throughout your organization is aware that these are “must win deals” as they are essential for your organization to make the number on short term (e.g. end of current quarter.) Your standard questions in “cadence calls” are then:
·         Are you sure the deal will close as forecast?
·         How can I help to close the deal?

You create value…
…when your list contains the deals with the highest potential value that are in a very early stage in the customer journey. You communicate to your people that you appreciate their willingness to reveal potential deals very early, and you want to help them to spend their time as wisely as possible on deals that will allow them to be successful. Your standard questions in “cadence calls” are then:
·         Do you need my help to get to the right people in the customer organization?
·         How can I help you to assess whether this deal has a high likelihood of being winnable?

Why is this so?
Unless you are ready to give an additional discount hoping that this will stimulate the closing of the deal, there is little else you can control at this late stage in the process. Actually with your eagerness for closing the deal you risk destroying value for your company by granting discounts.

When you get involved early in the deals, you can provide guidance on the qualification, on the approach that will increase the likelihood of winning well qualified deals and you can accelerate the deal in an early stage by helping your people gaining appropriate entry into the customer organization.  Being early in the deal and moving purposefully in early stages of the customer journey also increases your chance to win against competitors and avoid deals that end up with no decision by the customer.

Conclusion
Applying these criteria, I see many more Sales Managers than Sales Leaders. As long as this remains so, I am not very confident that the performance of sales organizations will improve anytime soon.
How do you assess the situation?

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