Nick Saban, Head Coach for Alabama, has won a national title in 2015, 2012, 2011, and in 2009. His assistant coach – Kirby Smart commented on the achievement, “I don’t think anyone understands what that is, four national championships in seven years in a world where there is parity.”
Alabama has a winning sales culture despite the parity of college football’s limit on scholarships, time spent with the players, access to television. It is not unlike sales – where competitive differentiation rarely lasts more than a year. What does last is a Winning Sales Culture?
Smart said, “Kids come and go. Kids transfer. It’s just a different world of college football and there’s so much parity. For him to do that, it speaks volumes of his coaching ability. Nobody realizes how much mental effort, execution and ideas this guy puts into it.”
Sales Onboarding can be a sustained competitive edge and I wrote a blog defining how here. I also put together the following 8 steps that can help you create and sustain a winning sales culture after the hire. I hope it helps..
- Assess – Revenue attainment objectives should be S.M.A.R.T.
- Align – Management prioritization, vision, and buy-in
- Define – Your Game Plan and messaging
- Deploy – Consistent and repeatable language / strategy
- Enable – CRM with methodology, best practices, and metrics reporting
- Recruit – Hiring based on skills of A-players, strategy, and metrics
- Build – Reinforce the strategy with execution skills and coaching
- Measure – Hold managers and sellers accountable to objectives
The most important sales goal we have as sales leaders is a revenue target and a date by which we must obtain that target. Revenue – however is a lagging indicator of success and we need to attribute more specific leading indicators of performance to enable us to hit our revenue targets. Using Key Performance Indicators and prioritizing them in order of importance can help us focus on proactive areas of improvement. We recommend your goals to be S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable, and Timely) and be forward looking.
After you have assessed the needs of your organization and prioritized the key performance indicators you will need to improve sales effectiveness by gaining buy-in from the executives and your key lieutenants. After all, executives most certainly will want to be kept abreast of any changes to the revenue engine of the company and frontline management may have a completely different idea as to what is effective.
While a message should be unique to the stakeholder, successful organizations have already defined the pains, benefit statements, positioning statements, and probing questions to every possible stakeholder a sales person could encounter. This uniformity creates consistency in message and objection handling.
Successful sales organizations also understand, document, and follow the best practices of their particular sales cycle. Common language, milestones, and expectations are created when an entire organization follows a defined sales process.
The deployment phase of an implementation is where your hard work is exposed to the field. Successful deployments also have management prepared before the engagement so as to decrease any surprises on their part and to act as a vocal supporter. Salespeople, however, are difficult individuals to win over and successful deployments are made up of four components:
- Credible Delivery
- Credible Content
- Management Leadership
CRM adoption is difficult to obtain if the sale force sees the application as strictly a management tool. To maximize the investment in your CRM – successful sales teams embed their sales stages to mirror the ones defined as Best Practice. The sales methodology should also be embedded into the CRM to take the sales training out of the training room and into real-world practice. We put a lot of thought into placing these best practices into our RampedUp.io app in Salesforce.com.
We recommend also setting up a dashboard to report upon the Key Performance Indicators selected in the assessment phase. The success of your project will be measured by tracking the improvement of the KPI’s through your CRM.
Once we have an understanding of what traits make up an A player in your organization through the assessment, the key performance indicators critical for success, the defined best practices, and the methodology required to meet our revenue targets, the framework is set for a complete hiring profile. We recommend setting up this framework before top-grading your sales force because without this knowledge you are making an uninformed hire. You need individuals that execute your strategy based upon objective criteria.
Philosopher Aristotle famously wrote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.” What Aristotle knew 2300 years ago was that a onetime investment in improvement is a poor investment. I have found that working with frontline sales management is the key to sustained sales effectiveness and long-term success.
Frontline managers need to coach to the Game Plan and selected deployments at every opportunity. Once the sales force realizes this is no longer a fad and they will be judged by the Key Performance Indicators needed for everyone’s success, habits will soon form. Adults learn through practical application and we provide the tools that enable frontline sales managers to reinforce the sales improvement changes. All sales cycles have natural milestones where strategy meets execution.
Process improvement is ongoing and continuous. The ultimate goal is to exceed our revenue target but as we mentioned before we want to measure the selected Key Performance Indicators to give us a predictive indication of success. KPI’s should begin at the VP of Sales level and cascade down to every contributor. Every member of the organization should be held accountable for reaching their particular goal. KPI’s are objective and allow for transparency.