As a sales leader, you live and die by your results. No doubt, you experience intense frustration when members of your team don’t seem to get it. Equally frustrating are the salespeople that are so focused on their numbers they turn customers and prospects off. What is the key to building a team that is focused on results in a way that customers and prospects appreciate and you are able to consistently meet your sales objectives?
#1: Focus on the customer’s results
This is really why we are in business. The purpose of business is to create value for customers first, and shareholders second (as a consequence of consistently creating customer value).
As you track opportunities in your pipeline, be sure that everyone on the team understands the outcome that the customer wants. While this sounds obvious, in the heat of battle, it is often lost. Salespeople often look at their pipeline as an indication of how much money they will make, rather than a reflection of the obligations to achieve customer outcomes. And it’s not just salespeople; sales managers can be just as bad. I can remember, early in my career, working for one sales manager that loved the fact that I consistently exceeded my numbers. What he couldn’t stand was my focus on ensuring our implementation projects were successful. When I communicated customer problems to him, his response was, “Adrian, it’s not your problem. You need to stay focused on selling.” Actually, it was my problem. First, win-win means we win “after” our customers win, not before. That means our customers problems are our problems. Second, it was my reputation. Salespeople live by making promises. If our word cannot be trusted, our promises are not worth anything and it won’t matter how flashy what we sell is, no one will buy.
#2: Real results are delivered over time
This is the fundamental difference between selling a transaction and selling a solution. Transactions happen at a moment in time. Solutions happen over time. By focusing on customer outcomes, your sales team is positioned to better understand where your customer needs to be in the long term. By understanding long-term goals, your team will better identify opportunities to partner with your customers over time. With a longer-term focus, both supplier and customer can work together more cooperatively in order to achieve the customer’s expected outcomes. Salespeople who focus on short-term, transactional selling may initially appear successful, but, in today’s demanding environment, their success will be short-lived.
This is a matter of delayed gratification. Anyone can spot the short-term transaction. It’s the mature sales professional, that can dig deeper and probe further in order to understand the bigger picture and the higher, more strategic priorities.
#3: Use metrics
Metrics enable you to clearly demonstrate to your customer that you are making a difference. Metrics should show your ability to increase sales, profit or productivity, or decrease cost and/or waste. By taking baseline metrics at the beginning of the project and then holding quarterly business reviews, you will be able to maintain customer excitement in your work together and demonstrate that you really mean business. You’re not just there to make money. You’re there to make a difference!
It is the passionate commitment and unrelenting focus on achieving customer results that is the key to every successful business today. As the world gets more complex, as competition increases and as customers become more demanding, those sales teams that have made it part of their DNA to focus on customer results and measure their success by their customers’ success will consistently rise to the top.
Evaluate your team’s focus on customer results by taking this quick assessment: Let’s talk about strategic account management.