The success of your strategy depends on the success of your only real asset: your salespeople.
Your businesses strategy is built around deploying your value proposition and competing and winning in your market. The decision as to how you compete is one of the critical decisions any business must make. Once that decision has been made, all of the company’s resources have to be aligned in executing that strategy.
One of the challenges in this execution is aligning the sales force with that strategy. Often, there are salespeople who have the technical skills, the attributes, the attitudes, and the behaviors that are right for one strategy but spell disaster for a different strategy.
One example is a company that pursues a strategy of selling and developing enterprise clients and major accounts. If their sales force possesses the skills and the competencies necessary to win transactional clients and is not capable of selling enterprise clients and major accounts, the business strategy is jeopardized.
The Sales Manager’s Dilemma
Your salespeople have to possess the right skills, the right attributes, the right attitudes, and the behaviors that your strategy requires in order to succeed. If your sales force doesn’t have the right attributes and beliefs, you are faced with a dilemma that many sales managers fail to recognize or take as seriously as they should.
The danger is in allowing your strategy to fail due to the limitations of your existing staff.
Because your salespeople don’t have the skills and attributes necessary for your strategy to succeed, they end up pursuing another strategy—one that you never intended. Sticking with our example above, if your strategy requires enterprise clients, a sales force with the right skills to sell and acquire transactional clients will either fail in achieving the goals that your strategy requires, or it will end up changing the strategy by acting contrary to your strategy.
If you allow them to continue to sell and win transactional clients, they have, in fact, determined your strategy.
The sales executive’s role is to align the efforts of the sales force with the business strategy, allowing the company to thrive and to realize its full potential.
Strategy cannot be determined by the limitations of your personnel.
Build Them or Buy Them
If your sales force doesn’t have the skills necessary to executing your strategy, you have to build them or you have to buy them.
You must train, develop, and coach your staff, building the skills and competencies that your strategy requires. If you need enterprise sales skills, you have to invest the time and resources to develop those skills, especially the business acumen that is necessary to winning major accounts. That means working with your team to identify the gaps in their abilities and working very hard—and very fast—to develop them.
If the skills can’t be built and developed you have to buy them. You have to go outside your organization and identify, recruit, and hire the salespeople that you need to successfully execute your strategy. The longer you go without the right sales force, the longer it will take to start stacking up the wins that your strategy requires.
- Does your sales force have the requisite skills to execute your company’s strategy? Is the gap between where you are and where you need to be caused by having a sales force that is out of alignment with the company’s strategy?
- Do the limitations of your sales force cause them to pursue deals that are not in alignment with your strategy?
- What are your responsibilities to the organization as a sales leader in ensuring that your sale force acts in a way that is congruent with the overall business strategy? What are your responsibilities to your sales force in ensuring that you have given them the tools, the training, and the technologies necessary to building the competencies pursuing your strategy requires?
- As a salesperson, what is your responsibility in executing the strategy? How do you ensure that you understand your company’s strategies and how your behaviors should be aligned with executing that strategy? What is your responsibility in developing the skills your job requires?
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