Last week I had the privilege of joining a company’s management team and key salespeople for their annual leadership retreat held in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. I was impressed with and energized by this company’s leaders and its culture from our first interaction. It was fun working with them to prep for the full-day session they asked me to facilitate, and the actual retreat session was one of the highlights of the year so far. Speaking of highlights, here are seven from the experience that seemed worthy of sharing with you:
1. Kudos to these senior leaders for getting away together. So many executive teams I encounter live constantly in an overwhelmed state. They barely make time for weekly huddles, let alone a retreat to step back, connect relationally, and look at the big issues.
2. Huge praise for this team’s humility and transparency. What a relief (and treat) to hear so plainly from a CEO and his team where they’ve not been successful when it comes to sales, sales leadership, sales culture and sales talent. It’s hard to properly express how much easier it is to help a client who’s not defensive, not posturing, not blowing smoke trying to make it look better than it is. Don’t over-read into what I’m writing here. This company was superbly healthy – and successful. But there were areas with significant room to improve, and their leaders were hungry to get outside perspective and help in those areas.
3. After allowing me to hold up a giant mirror to share the common reasons that sales teams underperform (from Part One of Sales Management. Simplified.), they quickly came to consensus around the four of five issues most negatively impacting their sales culture and performance.
4. In a nanosecond they agreed to convert their sales team meetings from boring, painful, inappropriate accountability sessions to a highly productive monthly meeting designed to energize, align and equip the salespeople.
5. Sales managers committed to regular, monthly 1:1 meetings with each of their sales reps specifically to review results, the pipeline of sales opportunities, and activity (in that order!).
6. I think partly because this company was big on behavioral styles (DISC) and understanding the natural tendencies and talents we each bring to work, they were very quick to agree that people wired like sales zookeepers who love to feed, nurture, cuddle with, and clean up after customers, are not likely to have much success picking up a weapon to hunt for new business. Similarly, they easily acknowledged the opportunity cost from burdening their few true hunters with so much account maintenance responsibility that kept them from maximizing time spent pursuing new business. It’s such a simple concept, but one that most midsize companies refuse to accept.
7. Management and key sellers were willing to get messy doing the necessary hard work to sharpen their “sales story.” Not only did they do great work on the story during the retreat, but they committed to investing the necessary time over the next month to refine it further ensuring that they’ll have a succinct, compelling, customer-issue-focused, differentiating story that gets a prospect’s attentions, sets them apart, and helps keep their service from getting commoditized.
I look forward to seeing and celebrating this client’s New Sales successes, and I’m sure that a few of the highlights from this company’s retreat can be a catalyst for you to tackle these topics at your company and with your sales team.
Join my friend Mark Hunter, special guest Billy Martin, Director of Sales Readiness at Salesforce, and me, this Wednesday, Feb 17th at 11:00 EST, 10 Central where the cool kids live.
What to expect from this webinar: Sales teams are time challenged, balancing the demands of the customer with the expectations of their company, often resulting in too many time critical activities being compromised. Find out why salespeople struggle to develop new business and how they can take back control of their Account Planning process (and their calendars!) to significantly increase revenue in less time.