Strategy review sessions: a different perspective – A STC Classic

A Classic - '63 Corvette

Crafting a sales strategy is a key to success – especially when selling into major accounts. While front-line sales managers agree, we often hear comments like, “I don’t have the time” and “My territory is spread out and I don’t see my people face-to-face”.

Well, it’s true that most sales managers don’t see their folks face-to-face very often and time is an issue for every sales manager – but if sales managers take a different approach to working with their sales teams on strategy, not only will the time issue be wrestled to the ground, but sales managers can leverage their time investment spent helping their sales teams craft sales strategies. How?

Strategy Review Sessions can be held one-on-one with a single sales rep or with an entire sales team during a sales meeting held face-to-face, during a conference call, or using teleconferencing. We usually think of conducting Strategy Review Sessions one-on-one, but there’s merit in conducting a Strategy Review Session with the entire sales team. Simply put – the sales team will have suggestions for addressing the sales strategy being discussed – and can then generalize the discussion to an opportunity they are working on. And, importantly, the sales manager – who is always looking to add more hours to the day – is able to leverage time by coaching the entire sales team at the same time!

So, here is a three-step process for conducting a Strategy Review Session with an entire sales team.

  • Select the Opportunity. Select one member of your sales team to outline a target opportunity along with his/her strategy for moving forward.
  • Solicit Suggestions. Then solicit suggestions from the rest of the sales team for modifications for improving the strategy.
  • Finalize a Path Forward. Finally, tie together the comments from the sales team and add your own as a recommendation to the sales person who owns the target opportunity.

How do you actually conduct the session? Well, telling the sales team the strategy isn’t as effective as helping them to learn how to formulate the strategy. Yes, it’s the old yarn about giving someone a fish or teaching them to fish. This approach means sales managers can’t just share brilliant ideas and then move on to the next topic. Rather, as the sales manager you have a point of view about direction – you know what the strategy might be, but you help the sales team get there by the art of questioning, not simply providing the answer.

Here’s a starter list of questions you might find helpful:

  • What is your most optimistic objective and what is your fall back position?
  • How would you describe your present position relative to achieving your objective?
  • What is going on at the account that is particularly important for you to take into consideration in planning your path forward?
  • Is there anything you need to do “right now”?
  • What are the hot buttons of the two or three key players and what do you need to do to position yourself?
  • What is our major competitive advantage and what should you do to leverage it effectively?
  • What might our competitors likely do and what should you be doing proactively to make their efforts less effective?

Now that you’ve asked the first question, what’s the follow-up question? Well, of course that is conversation-specific … but a few good “drill down” questions are:

  • What went really well the last time you faced this situation? What might you do differently?
  • If you don’t get what you wanted, what do you think would cause that?
  • What are the upsides? The downsides?
  • What’s another way to do it?
  • That’s one way to look at it, are there other options?
  • Under what conditions might you ______?

And if all else fails, here are five all-purpose questions sales managers can use when reviewing strategy and following a sales call:

  • What do you know?
  • What do you need to know?
  • Who has the information?
  • How did the last call go?
  • [Following a call]  What do you now know that you didn’t know before?  What are the implications? What should you do differently?

During a Strategy Review Session, sales managers have the opportunity to help a sales rep, or an entire sales team, gain insights as to the best strategy for moving forward on an opportunity.

If you found this post helpful, you might want to join the conversation and subscribe to the Sales Training Connection.

©2011 Sales Horizons, LLC

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About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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One Response to Strategy review sessions: a different perspective – A STC Classic

  1. Pingback: Sales Management – It’s All about the Time | SOLDSM

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