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Critical Success Factors for Sales Transformation

July 11, 2011
As purveyors of in-depth executive profiles, we hear on a daily basis from enterprise sales teams looking for more information on executive decision makers. While some of these are one-off orders from individual salespeople, the majority of requests have to do with company-wide initiatives designed to transform the sales culture. Technology companies looking to move along the continuum from product pusher to thought leader are retraining their salespeople to focus more on executive engagement and key accounts. Having had the privilege of working with some of the world's top sales organizations, we have identified some critical success factors for sales transformation efforts. 

Speak the right language
Stop talking products and start talking the language of your customer. What business problems are your products going to solve? Showing you understand their business will win their confidence and give you an edge over the competition.

Understand the players
Any good salesperson knows who the decision makers are--but how much do you know about these decision makers? What are they saying in the marketplace about their current initiatives? What is their background? Who are their influencers? Doing your homework can help uncover nuggets of information that you can leverage to access and influence these key players.

Align with marketing 
How much do you collaborate with marketing? Are there gaps between what they provide and what you need to succeed? If so, what are you doing about it? Marketing should be a key stakeholder and enabler of any sales transformation effort. Don't dismiss them--empower them to help you.

Leverage face-to-face events 
Most companies participate in hundreds--even thousands--of trade shows and events every year. Do you know which of your customers are also attending? A strong partnership with the event marketing team can be a powerful sales enabler as they can tell you which customers are showing up where--and they can also design some impressive on-site VIP programs for your key accounts.

Use your executive sponsors
Executive-to-executive engagement is a powerful way to move deals through the pipeline faster. Marketing programs or events that leverage executive sponsorship are ideal, because they allow executives to meet many customers in a short period of time. Even better, choose your executive sponsors to align with customers' interests and backgrounds. For example, if you have a customer who spent two decades in the army, match them with an executive sponsor who also served in the military. Building meaningful relationships is easier when you start out with something in common.

Be smart enough to realize that "you don't know what you don't know"
Every sales person would like to think that he knows everything there is to know about his customers. But what you don't know can add up to missed opportunities worth millions. The information in Boardroom Insiders profiles has repeatedly helped sales teams uncover new multi-million dollar opportunities with their own accounts that they did not even know about. Making sure you are in the running for these new opportunities is the real fruit of sales transformation.

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Lee Demby

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Lee Demby