Jonathan Farrington interviews Joe Galvin, Chief Research Officer and Executive Vice President of MHI Research Institute
JF: In June the MHI Research Sales Best Practices Study was made available to the public. It is very interesting reading and very apropos to our audience. What really is the difference between world class organizations and all the others?
JG: Our study identifies those behaviors that are connected to the activities that drive the outcomes that give us the results that we want. What’s unique with this study is it is the only one that focuses on and connects behaviors to performance. We identify those behaviors that connect to what world class is and we compare that to all others. What we find is that there is about a 22% gap across these key metrics of performance between the world class organizations and everyone else.
JF: That 22% is a pretty wide gap.
JG: That has been the consistent percentage that we’ve seen over the 13 years of the study. But what’s powerful about the study is that it repeatedly tells us that if you align all the right behaviors, the results tend to follow.
JF: Logically my next question is what are those key behaviors?
JG: There are individual behaviors in the individual sales people and there are organization behaviors. How they are related are through three simple questions: 1. How do you connect with customers? Do you understand their context and what they are looking to accomplish and are you able to provide perspective? 2. How do you work together-collaborate? Is it everyone for themselves or is there a sense of a common strategy. 3. What do you measure, recognize and reward?
JF: Let’s take them apart and provide a checklist/self-assessment to help people determine if they are world class. Let’s start with what does it mean to connect with customers?
JG: Connecting with customers looks at the customer management strategy– how do you create opportunities, how do you manage opportunities and then how do you manage those relationships. You need to think about the customer management strategy from each level or segment of the business and you need to define how you want to connect with customers from an organizational level.
JF: Would you say that connecting with customers is the biggest differentiator or are they all equal?
JG: It is the biggest opportunity you have to differentiate. Connecting with customers allows you to differentiate your level of professionalism, the respect that the clients have for your opinion and the perspective that you can provide.
JF: It is almost a cliché to say that the days of the lone ranger are dead—how do you define that second key behavior, “work together-collaboration”?
JG: Collaboration is a word that is thrown around in a lot of different ways—really it is how do we work together. We have developed the framework for collaboration which says you need a common set of strategies you use, a set of messages you want to share and the knowledge that you want to access, leverage and contribute to.
JF: You’ve alluded to the importance of measuring, recognizing, and rewarding. How do the real world-class organizations do this?
JG: People measure results. Finance can tell us what sales has done. But we are in the business of selling which is more than data. World class organizations measure the act of selling—the behaviors that get the results.
JF: Is there a way that our community can learn more about what we just discussed?
JG: The Executive Summary of the 2014 Sales Best Practices Study is available online at www.MHIGlobal.com. I’d like to also invite people to participate in the 2015 study which can be found HERE. Participation in the study gives you the opportunity to become part of our research community, receiving the annual study results first, being invited to our member communities and having access to a wealth of information about the global world of professional selling.
JF: In closing, one point that I picked up on is that the “How can I do it better mindset” is something that world-class organizations accept as their mantra.
JG: Certainly I’d agree—the constant drive to improve is driven by two things: 1. the continuous raising the bar of what world class is and 2: if you don’t compete you don’t belong in sales. Good enough is never good enough. The study tells you, “This is what better looks like.”
You can also listen to the audio version of this interview here: