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Putting You Money Where Your Mouth Is!

by David Brock on October 22nd, 2018

I’ve been working with sales professionals (and unprofessionals) for more years than I’d like to think about.  I talk to and work with thousands of sales people and hundreds of managers every year, traveling a couple hundred thousand miles doing it.  So it’s easy to get jaded when you sit in sales meetings.  Despite, different times, companies, industries, geographies, too often one hears the same thing over and over.  Too often, it’s the same whining accompanied by, “If only ……” statements.

Last week, I had the privilege of sitting in the single best sales meeting of my career–even those I have had with my own sales teams.  It was with a small team of sales professionals, and the people supporting them, discussing plans for the next year.  There were too many inspirational things that happened for me to cover in one post.  I’ll probably spread this out into other post.

I want to focus on one remarkable thing–a huge leap led by the sales executive and embraced by the team.

Like many organizations, they talked about leading all their sales initiatives with insight and creating real value for the customer.  This team made the giant step forward, setting their primary metric based on Value Creation.  Specifically, it was the targetted increase in customer profitability over the first 12 months of implementation.

The team established quotas for themselves based on the value they were expected to create in each of their territories.  Their compensation and incentives were all aligned around that value creation.

As I sat in the meeting, watching the team develop their plans for the coming year, the conversation was stunningly different from any that I have encountered.  The conversations focused on, “Which prospects and customers can we create the greatest value for?  How do we help them understand that potential?  How do we light a fire under them, helping them share in our vision of what they could achieve?”

The discussion went on to how they would prioritize opportunities, how they would engage these customers in conversations, how the team could collaborate to help each other……

The cynical readers would say, “Oh this must be a not for profit…..”  or “How long will this executive/team last, don’t they realize they have to create revenue?”  Others would just say this is a silly experiment that can’t last.  They have to revert to a revenue number, with the unspoken implication of “screw all this stuff about value creation…..”

But this team was different.  They clearly connected to dots between what value creation meant for the customer and the revenue it would generate for their company.  They new for every $10M increase in customer profitability, how much revenue they would create for the company.  The exec had a clear roadmap to go back to his management and the board saying, “Here’s how we will achieve the revenue expectations you have on us?”

Some might say, “Well you are creating a pseudo revenue metric, you are really focused on revenue, not value….”  But that idea would be dispelled by listening to the account and deal strategies the sales team had.  The conversations kept coming back to “how do we maximize the value we can create for the customer?”

To have the courage to commit to this metric means you have to be very sure of a number of things:

  1.  You have to really understand your customers and the problems they have.  Not just at a surface level, but a a very deep, data driven level.
  2.  You have to really understand the real results your solutions provide–in each specific customer situation.  You have to know the connection to what they get for every dollar they spend on you.
  3.  You have to understand how to create a compelling sense of urgency and buy in with the customer, getting them to take action now!
  4.  You have to understand how to accelerate the value realization process, so you actually can claim credit for that value–not wait for years to see if it really happens.
  5. You recognize you can’t just get the PO, thank the customer and go off to another opportunity, while wishing them luck and Godspeed.  You have to make sure you have their resources and yours aligned around making it happen.

Through the day (I just spent one of two days they were working together), you could see the team ruthlessly and honestly focused on identifying what it took to make this happen.  I remarked to the sales executive at the end of the day, there was no BS  (OK, I did open my mouth to speak a few times, but we weren’t counting that), there were no excuses, there was no wishful thinking.

They have an aggressive goal, it won’t be a slam dunk.  They are an early stage company in a disruptive space, so there is a lot that needs to be figured out.

But it’s a team that’s committed to what selling is about.  If we claim to be customer focused, if we claim to want to create value for our customers, then we need to put our money where our mouths are.

Thank you to the sales exec and the team for letting me observe the most remarkable meeting I have ever attended.

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