11 Apr Alignment Is The Key To Sales Performance
Performance from the sales team is essential to meeting corporate goals. That’s obvious. We experience this everyday through calls, meetings, reports and reviews – sales people feel the pressure. The pressure is natural and normal and it should not be lessoned or eliminated, it needs be channeled and exploited. Pressure is good when applied to “well-aligned,” positive processes and structures . Pressure is destructive when pushed through a broken organization. Most organizations are to some degree ‘broken.’
Gartner Research Director Tad Travis points to this imperative. Alignment is an assumption. Executives dictate broad objectives, like ‘grow 11%’ and expect the frontline teams to innately know how to drive that outcome. In reality, the teams may not know how to deliver on high-level strategies. It is a routine struggle, according to Travis, increasing sales efficiency and effectiveness in a way that aligns to corporate objectives. Reality is that sales teams are dealing with outside pressures as well – client changes, market shifts, budgets, competition – as well as internal factors, misaligned comp plans, territory shifts, promotions and contests of the moment, offering gaps, tool challenges, etc.
What is broken and can be fixed is the alignment of corporate objectives through the organizational processes and client facing teams. If the mandate is 11% CAGR, then the methods, offerings, market plan, and assessment of organic/inorganic gaps and strategies must be tightly structured to get to time-sensitive milestones and drive wins for the team AND each member. The tools, communication rhythms, comp, planning, analysis, marketing and sales activity have to be solid. It rarely happens and the pressure builds in the gaps, oozing out in disruptive fashion and ultimately blowing up. Why this happens is highly variable, but a common theme is at the root: Alignment gaps.
There is no fault in this reality, except the decision not to fix it. And there is a huge lack of desire to fix this problem. Common reasons: 1) “It’s the way we’ve always done it;” 2) People at all levels are stretched too thin to put focused effort on the problem; 3) It’s so complicated that we don’t know where to start; 4) We don’t have budget.
There are Answers
If the ‘way its always been done’ comes out of someone’s mouth, then this is not a growth-minded company and the solutions will need to go deeply to the leadership fundamentals, but once the advantages of transformation are expressed, the problem can be solved. The ‘bandwidth’ issue is the most common and the fix can be rapid, effective and cost efficient – in most cases completed in as little as 90 days with commitment. ‘Complicated’ generally comes from an inside view and is relevant to the ‘bandwidth’ issue where research/exploration and learning required to create a solution is daunting, therefore seeming fragmented/complicated. “Budget’ discussions are ROI discussions. Measured success is a margin conversation, not a spend issue and rapidly achieved outcomes will generate long term rewards.
- Clearly stated measurable objectives
- Consistent method
- Refined and Aligned processes
- Proper tools with properly aligned structure
- Consistent, related reporting and analysis
- Best practices in communication rhythms
- Empowered story telling and personal development
There is strong research supporting the benefit of these specific functions, yet the application of fixes are not cookie-cutter. To effectively drive better results, these elements need to be applied to each company’s unique situation. All things are not equal and the best results will come from a carefully customized approach, designed to align your team, your objectives and match your values.
Here are some good links:
Ping me! I will be happy to share many more. It is not just identifying the problem or how to fix it. The mission is to make it yours, make it fast, make it last.