A sales manager recently finished sales strategy reviews for the top 20 accounts in her geography. She told me, “Let’s not talk about the quality of the sales strategies – some were great and some not so much. I expected that. What I didn’t expect were the stories about how the sales reps executed their sales strategies.”
I wasn’t quite sure what she meant – and asked her to tell me more. That’s where it got interesting. She said that during some of the strategy review sessions it felt like some sales reps were pounding a hammer on the pegs, like the child’s toy. “The sales reps were using a “pounding the pegs approach” to executing their sales strategy – whether it fit or not. They never stopped, paused, and reassessed.”
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That got us thinking. How often do sales managers sit through strategy review sessions like these? Our guess is way too often! Yet, it’s so important salespeople take the time – especially in larger accounts – to stop, pause, and reassess. Not only will it ensure that salespeople don’t continue pursuing the wrong account strategy – it also provides the opportunity to modify their sales strategy based on customer feedback.
In addition, it provides the opportunity to consider the fundamental point that this may just be a chase after a bad piece of business.
What advice should sales managers share with their sales teams during strategy review sessions?
– Today doesn’t mirror yesterday. Companies are changing how they buy due to the disruptive forces at play in the marketplace. What was true yesterday is unlikely to be true today. So if buyers change how they buy, then sellers must adapt and adjust their sales strategies.
– One size doesn’t fit all. Not only are companies changing how they buy, there is not a new standard approach being adopted across companies. Rather, companies are trying to leverage their buying process as a competitive advantage more today than ever before.
– It’s about insights – not information. Due to the digital revolution buyers are likely to engage with selling organizations with more information and later in their decision cycle than in times past. When they do engage, they’re looking for advisors they trust – not product facilitators. It’s about fresh ideas and insights. This means a sales strategy is always a work in progress.
The key point here is this – the need for sales managers to conduct strategy review sessions with their sales reps has moved to center stage. It is not a nice-to-do. Executing a winning sales strategy in major B2B sales is a very skilled undertaking. Most salespeople need help and sales managers need to provide that help.
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