You know what's working within your sales organization. And, perhaps more importantly, you know what isn't. Many of the sales leaders we speak to know what needs to be fixed in their organization. Things like:
Sales teams that focus too much on features and functions and not on business value and therefore not selling higher and wider within the prospect organization.
Losing too many deals to the competition or to "do-nothing" or "do-it-internally" decisions.
Too much discounting late in the sales cycle.
No access or credibility with the Economic Buyer.
Limited understanding of the buyer's decision process.
The challenge lies in developing a road map to correct the problem for the long term. The root of that problem is typically a lack of alignment among senior leadership on how to develop a revenue engine that the sales team can execute. It can also be difficult to move a sales initiative forward if your leadership team can't agree on the mechanism to course correct it. If you're trying to move a sales initiative forward and convince your leadership that investing in the new program will make a difference, you need a plan of action. We help sales leaders do this all the time. Sysdig is a great example of how generating cross-functional alignment around a buyer-focused sales initiative can drive company-wide benefits.
Here are our best tips:
Tie Your Sales Initiative to a Company Priority
If the goals of your initiative are too sales-specific and don't have a clear connection to a company initiative, your colleagues will see it as a "sales-only" program. If you want other leaders to care about it, your sales initiative can't be just a sales-only program. It needs to be tied to the major initiative of the company. Be sure that the sales initiative is seen as advancing company goals.
For example, let's say your company is moving to subscription pricing. The goal of this pricing shift is to create recurring revenue that will improve your chances for selling the company. You could say the goal of your initiative is to enable the sales team to sell the new products (which have subscription pricing) OR you can set the objective is to improve RMR by 15% in the quarter following the kickoff. Perhaps the two are the same, but the latter shows how the event directly aligns with the company's goal of driving RMR.
What's in it for Them?
Your cross-functional and departmental leaders need to know the value of committing to reinforcing and supporting your sales initiative. Why should they sign on to support this initiative, if it's really something that's sales focused? Perhaps the answer is obvious to you, but make sure it's just as clear to your fellow executives. Why should a marketing leader invest his/her time in participating in the initiative? Perhaps, it will ensure that the demand gen leads are followed up in a way that improves conversions and will increase engagement on marketing campaigns. Maybe you're launching a program that will improve negotiation processes and you want the CFO involved. What margin, payment terms and pricing considerations does your finance team desire as part of every deal? You can demonstrate how the training will help to communicate these anchors early to prevent late-stage deal hiccups.
Articulate the Challenge
One of the best ways to show that you need to get an executive team aligned is to demonstrate a misalignment. If you know you need alignment, you're halfway there. Your job now is to demonstrate to others that alignment is needed. We find in many organizations there is often a lack of agreement cross-functionally on what's important to the buyer.
Is your sales team aligning your products with key business problems? Or, are they focusing on demos filled with bells and whistles?
Is your marketing team focusing on those same problems? Or, are they producing the latest color-filled brochure focused on the latest features and functions?
Is your product team improving your solution in a way that aligns with key buyer challenges? Or are they building widgets that are cool, but not necessarily something buyers would pay a premium for?
Is the conversation or customer experience similar or unique with every touchpoint in your customer engagement process?
Make a list of examples where the misalignment created negative consequences. Then, test your leadership on these four essential questions. Ask them:
What business problems does our solution solve?
How specifically do we solve those problems?
How do we do it better than the competition?
What's our proof?
If you know there's misalignment, the disparity of answers can help make your case. More often than not, the answers are nowhere near the same. It's a great exercise because it makes evident what your buyers are experiencing. If your leadership team can't get deliver the same message, how can your sales team? When you have consistent answers to the essential questions, you have the framework to equip sales to articulate your solution’s business value and differentiation in a way that drives bottom-line impact. In this podcast, John Kaplan joins us to discuss how companies generate consistent, cross-functional agreement on the four essential questions, and why it’s critical to accelerating business growth. You can listen here or on your preferred streaming platform:
Put Yourself in the Shoes of the Buyer
If you're a Command of the Message veteran, we would tell you to formulate your own "Mantra". For those of you who aren't familiar with that, we would say you need to articulate three critical components of your initiative, in terms each executive will find meaningful.
What are the Positive Business Outcomes that this initiative will achieve?
What are the Required Capabilities in order to achieve those outcomes?
What are the Metrics that you will use to measure success?
Outline the answers for each of the executives you're looking to convince. Make sure they're meaningful to their roles. They may not be the same for each one. Then start your own campaign and "listening tour" to get their buy-in.
We love the power of proof points. They work well when you're trying to make an internal sell. If you are considering a partner to help you with your sales initiative, have them help you come up with testimonials and proof points that are aligned to both the problems you're trying to solve and the different roles for your company. For example, if we were trying to help a client demonstrate the value of Command of the Message on the product organization, we would share this video with Calvin French-Owen, CTO at Segment who recently worked with us to improve sales productivity. Or, if we wanted to show value to a Chief Marketing Officer, we may share this video with Claudine Bianchi.
If you do the work upfront to build the case for your initiative, it will be much easier to drive adoption and reinforcement of it once you launch the new process or methodology.