Sales Productivity: How to Get Your Organization Aligned
Companies often function in silos, with sales, marketing, product and operations working separately, instead of together toward common goals. As each department works to meet company goals on their own, inefficiencies become rampant, with sales performance likely becoming one of the largest frustrations. Removing those silos can create and capture customer value, as well as streamline internal processes and administrative burdens.
The Alignment that Creates Resilient Sales Teams:
Companies that drive repeatable revenue growth and resiliency in even the most challenging of sales environments all have one thing in common — cross-functional alignment around buyer value and solution differentiation.
Every department should be crystal clear on what’s important to your buyers and how that connects with the solutions you offer. How can you ensure this type of consistency when critical customer-facing departments are operating in silos?
Remember, the status quo will never change if you don't have the courage to challenge it. Can your organization be more aligned? When was the last time you had solid alignment in place, your A round? Create a company-wide culture of alignment on buyer value and solution differentiation. Then, ensure sales can execute on this alignment. Leverage the insights below to break down how successful sales leaders build a culture of buyer alignment across their sales organization, and entire company.
Define What's Important to the Buyer
Many organizations say they're buyer-focused. They already know what the buyer wants. However, we find there is often a lack of agreement cross-functionally on what's important to the buyer. Consider these questions to determine if there’s a lack of a buyer focus, across your sales organization and other customer-facing departments:
- 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 content and resources too heavily focused on the latest features and functions?
- Is your product team improving your solution in a way that aligns to key buyer challenges? Or are they building widgets that are helpful, but not necessarily something buyers would pay a premium for?
- Are customer success and sales teams working together to strategically advise current accounts on evolving business challenges, or are they just trying to up-sell based on technical product features and solution evolutions?
These challenges can help you identify inefficiencies that lead to poor sales performance, and low KPIs in other departments (i.e. low long-term account monetization, poor performance reviews and QBRs, etc.). Create a culture of buyer alignment to minimize these challenges and improve company-wide benchmarks.
Build alignment around your buyer by gaining cross-functional and executive-level agreement on the four essential questions every company should be able to answer consistently:
- What problems do you solve?
- How specifically do you solve those problems?
- How do you do it better than the competition?
- What's your proof?
In our sales process and in our Command of the Message® engagements, we often test the alignment of an organization by asking cross-functional leaders these four questions. 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. You can do the same with your company’s executive leadership team. See how many different answers you get. If you try this, please email me! Would love to hear how it worked.
Your entire organization needs to have consistent answers to the essential questions. Everyone should answer them in the same way, having a clear understanding of your buyer value and differentiation. Companies that are aligned have the answers to these questions documented and embedded into processes, content and tools, so account teams and supporting departments are audible-ready to align with their buyer during sales conversations.
How do you gain executive agreement?
If it was easy, we wouldn't be in business. But there are some key ways you can chip away at the issue and work towards gaining alignment.
1. Agree there is misalignment:
Get out of the miracle cloud and deal with reality. The exercise outlined above should be a good way to demonstrate misalignment. The first step to getting everyone on the same page is to demonstrate that they aren't. Trust us, a key way to get buy-in for the effort is to make sure everyone agrees there is a problem that needs to be fixed. [Dig Deeper]
2. Determine business outcomes:
It's much easier to get people to buy into an alignment initiative, if there is a business outcome associated with it. Consider the business initiatives and top priorities for your company right now. How will misalignment impact that initiative? What will be the business impact if everyone is aligned on the essential questions? Give an alignment initiative very specific financial metrics. Remember, it's not a workshop exercise. It's a means to a business outcome. [Dig Deeper]
3. Consider an outside partner
You have a day job. Taking on an alignment initiative isn't easy. It may seem that way on the surface, but once you start digging deeper into buyer problems and challenges, you'll find a lot of people have different and valid opinions that need to be taken into account. That's why so many of our customers see value in using an outside partner to help them gain agreement on those essential questions. We have an entire resource guide on what to look for when considering an operational partner, if you’re aiming to generate company-wide alignment with your buyer to improve sales performance, the guide is worth a look. Some of the topics it covers are:
Benefits of impartiality:
Outside experts bring impartiality to the process. Their subject matter expertise can help identify and address problems without any hidden agendas or biases, a condition nearly impossible to replicate in-house, especially when you're trying to come to a consensus in an organization. [Dig Deeper]
Your success is their success:
A third party needs you to thrive in order to sustain their own success. If they can’t provide references or proof of results, they aren’t going to be able to drive new business. They also have the benefits of executing patterns of success. They know what needs to be done to replicate the success they’ve achieved in other companies. True transformation partners are committed to your results.
When it comes to seeking the perspective of third-party partners in B2B sales organizations, the stumbling block often is a belief that no outside expert could adequately understand the industry idiosyncrasies or company culture well enough to successfully bring about sales transformation. That’s why it’s important to find the right outside perspective who can provide a proven playbook for success and tailor it to your sales approach, your customers, and your company. [Dig Deeper]
Generate Alignment. Build a Resilient Sales Organization.
Register for our live webinar, August 24th. John Kaplan, President and Co-Founder, will deep dive into how leaders generate alignment around three critical areas and equip their organization to drive repeatable revenue growth. Save your seat here. If you can’t make it, register anyway and we’ll send you an on-demand version you can watch at your convenience.