REAL: Sees challenges precisely for what they are

REAL: Sees challenges precisely for what they are

“My advice is just two words” said the Sales Performance Coach

“Which is?” asked the CEO of M/s ABC

“Get real” said the Sales Performance Coach “That’s all your troubled Regional Sales Head needs to do. All will be well”

M/s ABC was a start-up charting a runaway success story in the health management space. Looking around for talent to grow a specific geography still unfamiliar to M/s ABC, Mr. Y was brought in as Regional Sales Head to lead a team of 4 newly hired Area Managers.

Y had what seemed like a dream profile for ABC's markets. Y was young, had a Bachelors in Pharmacy and had gone on to get an MBA, majoring in marketing from a leading B School. With his intimate understanding of medical diagnostics Y had led a team of Area Sales Managers for a thriving diagnostics chain enjoying in-demand business in specialty testing.

Four months into his new role at ABC, far from being a breath of fresh air, Y appeared to be closer to a bull in a china shop. Three major distributors, and two Area Managers (AM) threatened to quit.

They sensed what the Sales Performance Coach’s brief report said was “an atmosphere of denial, arrogance, complacency, competency dependence, and competitive myopia”. The coach’s report pointed out that these are self-destructive realities that even good managers often fail to notice according to management thinkers like Jagdish Sheth. Y had started doubting himself and that's when the Sales Performance Coach was called in.

After consulting sessions with Y and his AMs and field visits with distributors, the Sales Performance Coach prescribed his two-word panacea of getting real.

The Sales Performance Coach’s report outlined the issues: (1) Y lacks perspective in his new sales leadership role. He has a view of challenges that are not in sync with how his people see it. (2) He’s a quick learner but his arsenal doesn’t have structured Sales Management tools and frameworks. In his previous assignment he could click on sheer strength of his domain expertise. In the new role, not having tools and frameworks inhibits him in accurately assessing tough realities of the nascent niches in health management space (3) Y and his AMs, need to hone their sales performance management skills using a suite of structured tools and frameworks for an accurate understanding of market realities and come up with strategies to master them

A month after the conversation, ABC’s CEO called the Sales Performance Coach. “Thank you” he said. “The Sales Performance Management program you suggested resolved my sleepless nights of last quarter. I’m relieved and happy. Y and his team now seem aligned. They speak in one voice, and their distributors are positive about cracking some solid deals in the next quarter”

“What do you think has changed?” asked the Sales Performance Coach

“I like that question” said the CEO “Let me pick just 3 new tools we now use with dramatically positive impact" "Firstly, I can see that we are now sco

"Firstly, I can see that we are now scoring the relationship strength of all our key Customers. So, we know how vulnerable or strong we are in relation to competitive attacks in these accounts, and what we can do to retain them"

"Next, I have a checklist to score for every large deal in the pipeline, so I know what we need to do as an organization to win these deals, or to make up for the deficits"

"Third, we now have frameworks that help us guide the efforts of our sales people, in things like, should they: (a) Cold call new Customers (b) Follow up with customers who we are talking to (c) Manage negotiations and closures with Customers who are ready to buy. (d) Work on rebuy opportunities? "

"The Sales Performance Management program has given us a common language, a set of tested tools and frameworks that bring my people to see their reality as it is. Nothing aligns people like perspective does. I’m glad you made it happen”

Proactive, far-sighted sales leaders recognise realities

Sales Leaders who can’t look reality in the eye, lose the game before it begins. Pragmatic sales leaders, on the other hand, recognise reality with an intimate understanding of the critical resources and variables at play, including their own self, their people, the competition, the pitch or terrain, and the audience.

Regardless of how skilled or talented a sales leader is, an inability to accurately appreciate challenges in all their magnitude and complexity, sets them up for failure.

And recognising reality calls for deploying diagnostic tools

As with every other profession, sales too, has its tools to help a Sales Leader recognise reality in key success areas such as: (1) Forecasting deal wins (2) Building / Managing a platform of potential and existing relationships (3) Sales effort effectiveness and value delivery for purchase experiences that build loyalty (4) Customer Retention, Rebuy and account value realisation.

Far-sighted Sales leaders know that reality checking requires equipping themselves with the sales equivalents of sphygmomanometers, stethoscopes, and pulse oximeters.

Like any good physician, their success formula is to get real, do their diagnostics and then take massive action

Pause to reflect:  “Far sighted sales leaders are like good physicians. They succeed because they always get real, do their diagnostics and then take massive action”

Action Question: How consistent is your perception of field realities to the way your team sees them? What can you do to create greater alignment?

Related Readings: Mercuri Mail Sept 2010 Must Read feature on The Self Destructive Habits of Good Companies by Jagdish N Sheth

Takeaway Quote: “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor. That sums up the progress of an artful leader.” ― Max DePree

About the series:  This is the 71st in a series of 100 Posts that seek to build your #Sales Resilience ... as an individual salesperson, as a sales team, and as a sales organization. Because a Resilient India needs Resilient Sales.


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