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Sales Growth: An Interview with McKinsey’s Jon Vander Ark

Listen to interview here.

Last Friday I interviewed Jon Vander Ark from McKinsey about their new book, Sales Growth: Five Proven Strategies from the World’s Sales Leaders. Sales Growth is really aimed at sales leaders well above the first line sales manager. But I asked Jon to allow me to frame our conversation around ideas that would be valuable for salespeople and sales managers, and he agreed.

I directed the questions around five ideas from the book, but they aren’t the five proven strategies. They are just parts of the five proven strategies.

The first idea we riff on is getting to opportunities before your competitors. I believe this means you develop your business acumen, you know what challenges your clients are likely to face, and you bring them ideas. Some of McKinsey’s research bears this out.

The second idea we discuss is targeting clients. It’s easy to believe that because some industry is generally down that you should spend your time somewhere else. Jon suggests that “Averages lie.” There may be serious pockets of growth in industries that are generally down.

The third prompt I gave Jon was around pursuing customers relentlessly and getting there early. It’s easy to give up and look for more receptive clients. But that isn’t the answer. The new buying cycle makes it difficult to win unless you get to your dream clients early.

The fourth idea is just fun. It’s a story from the book about a company that instituted what they call hunting days. Personally, I believe every day is a hunting day, but this story may give you one or two really good ideas.

Finally, we tackle the value of coaching. McKinsey’s research shows that high growth sales organizations spend a lot of time coaching their salespeople. Listen to the podcast and discover the shockingly high percentage of time spent coaching and then ask yourself if you are spending too much time serving your organization.

I hope I hooked you. Give the podcast a listen. Buy the book. Let me know what you think.

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