A few months ago, I started to write about one of the missing pieces in many sales enablement discussions – the sales managers. In case you missed it, you can check it out here: Sales Enablement and Sales Management – Enable Your Sales Managers First
Now, I will discuss how to enable and how to equip first and second line sales managers in an effective and integrated way to be able to leverage the full potential of sales organizations in terms of sales productivity, growth and transformation.
Today, we will focus on a simple, but integrated foundation for sales managers, the “Round Pegs In Round Holes” framework.
This framework is based on our findings and our experiences, that many sales managers feel supported (from “somehow” up to “pretty well”) regarding their tactical challenges to make their numbers quarter by quarter. But very often, they don’t feel supported pretty well regarding their strategic mid- and long term challenges, especially not, when it comes to change and transformation.
One of the reasons is simple, but underestimated and overlooked: It’s the gap between changing business strategies and pretty inflexible sales execution models, that aren’t pretty well aligned. This challenge is even bigger in organizations that experienced many acquisitions over the last years. Then, many different piece parts exist in parallel, without being connected to a big picture in order to execute the current business strategy successfully. In those situations, sales managers may find many different piece parts – and what are they doing if the piece parts don’t fit together? They either switch off the noise or they use what they always used and what helped them in the past. Not the most effective approach, right? Here is an idea what to do about it.
In those situations, sales managers may find seller roles, functions, profiles and assessments, often driven by HR. Somewhere else, they may find buyer role models, power maps in account plans, often driven by Sales Operations, Strategy or Enablement. Additionally, they get account segmentation results, that are often driven by Finance only. And the list goes on and on…The special challenge though is – these piece parts are not connected pretty well within a sales execution model. Additionally, there might be a gap to the business strategy.
The “Round Pegs in Round Holes Framework” is based on a few core ideas and principles:
- First, sales managers have tactical and strategic challenges:
Managing sales behaviors to achieve better results AND fighting organizational drags and comfort zones to drive transformation in a changing economy.
- Second, “people buy from people”:
I’m a firm believer of relationships as the foundation of every sale (but I don’t mean order takers!), even if some people out there try to explain the opposite. Relevant relationships matter even more. Science and art meet exactly at the intersection, when it comes to the question, how to pair different sellers and different buyers to valuable relationships, not only to maintain existing business, but to create significantly more new business.
- Third, “not everything that matters, can be measured”:
Account segmentation is often a finance driven, facts and figures based exercise – inside-out. We need to integrate the growth potential in our account segmentation processes, in terms of strategic relationships and specific portfolio capabilities.
- Fourth, no “one size fits all” approaches regarding growth strategies:
Let’s think about different growth strategies, mapped to strategic and transactional account segments to identify what’s the most effective strategy right now.
Let’s discuss, how to apply such an integrated sales management framework based on people’s selling and buying preferences, mapped to account segments and tailored growth strategies.