When we talk about critical skills and competencies of great B2B sales people, one seldom hears about organizational nimbleness or ability. Increasingly, however, this capability is critical for sales success.
Organizational nimbleness is the ability to understand how organizations work and to navigate them to get things done.
There’s a lot of evidence that shows the importance of this skill:
- More people are involved in the consensus decision-making process. Over the past 5 years, we’ve gone from 5.4 to 10.2 according to Gartner. Still more are involved, indirectly, in influencing the decisions the buying team makes.
- Customers struggle to make a buying decision, again, Gartner data indicates 53% of buying journeys end in “no decision made.” Customer struggle with aligning their agendas/priorities, getting things done within their organizations.
- Our relationships and channels to customers are increasingly complex. More organizations have a complex array of go to market strategies, leveraging digital outreach, partners, sales specialists, account managers and others. The sales person has to manage this “network” in effectively engaging customers and helping them through their buying journeys.
- Our own organizations are getting more complex. Understanding how to get things done, with who, and how to mobilize company resources to support selling efforts can be very confusing and time consuming.
Great sales people have the ability to navigate customer, partner, and our own internal organizations to get things done. They seem to have the ability to know who they need to talk to, who needs to be engaged, and how to move things forward to accomplish their goals.
Too many sales people don’t even recognize the importance of doing this. For example, recently, I was doing an opportunity review with a sales person. He had a very important deal that had been stalled for several months. He had been focusing on two important sponsors. He said, “They would buy our products tomorrow if they could!” But when challenged with, “But they aren’t buying, so there must be other people that are either stopping them, or need to be involved in this decision. What are you doing with them?” The sales person couldn’t answer this, his response was, “But I always work with these ‘personas.'”
While this strategy had been successful for him in the past, it was no longer successful, many of his deals were stalled because he was just doing what he always had done, rather than figuring out how to get things done within the customers organization and executing on that.
Our worlds are getting increasingly complex and turbulent. Our customers struggle with getting things done within their own organizations. Our own organizations are getting increasingly complex.
It’s the sales people that understand these, that can figure out how to navigate both their customers and their own organizations that will be successful.
Likewise, organizational agility or nimbleness is a critical skill for any one in sales management. Getting things done for your people, removing barriers, helping your team understand how to be more effective in managing the complexity that surrounds them is important to driving performance.
What are you doing to help your people to become more organizationally nimble and agile?