I’m in the midst of an engagement that is so energizing and so rare that I cannot not share it with you.
My typical rule is to protect confidentiality and not to divulge my clients’ identities, but this particular company has been very public about both their major initiative, and my involvement. So I’m free to reveal what they are doing, and also to provide a behind-the-scenes peek from which I am confident many executives and sales managers will benefit.
Early in 2017 I received a call from Nate Holiday, Global Vice President Sales & Services Operations at Teradata. It was one of the three most memorable calls I’ve received in ten years of doing what I do. Yes, it was that impactful. Nate shared that under the direction of Karen Thomas, Executive Vice President, Americas, they were committed to creating a “sales destination culture.” He went on to describe more about their initiative and objectives, and at one point during the call, Nate paused to see if I was still there because so stunned by the uniqueness of this conversation, I was at a loss for words (not something that happens too often to me 🙂 ). Wait, it gets better. After getting over the shock that a major company was more interested in creating a healthy, high-performance sales culture than just simply training the sales team, Nate went on to explain that investing in the frontline sales managers was a major part of this initiative. I don’t remember my exact response, but I’m sure it was something subdued and uber-professional like, “You must be freakin kidding me; this is a fantasy. No one does this!”
Please hear me clearly: I’m not sharing this with you to brag that I am doing this engagement or that this company sought me out after reading Sales Management. Simplified. Neither am I posting this article to ingratiate myself further with this important client, although I am sure they appreciate the public kudos. I AM SHARING THIS WITH YOU BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT COMPANIES ARE SUPPOSED TO DO – build healthy sales cultures and equip their managers to effectively lead the sales team!
Getting sales culture and sales leadership right trumps sales skills and sales process everyday. Peter Drucker taught us a very long time ago that culture eats strategy for breakfast. Well, in sales, leadership and culture and effective sales management eats sales training and sales process for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – all day, everyday.
It is an absolute blast working with these executives and sales managers and tackling key themes and topics from Sales Management. Simplified. that everyone agrees are affecting their culture and future results:
- Helping managers focus on their highest-payoff activities and transition from playing “hero” to becoming “hero-makers” who are more concerned with coaching and developing AEs than inserting themselves in the middle of every deal
- Increasing accountability and transparency around the pipeline without coming across as micromanagers or deflating their team
- Ensuring that the right people are in the right roles and that producers’ sales efforts are given the support they need and deserve
- Celebrating victories and sharing success stories and best practices across the organization
- Arming their sales teams with the weapons necessary to win, particularly a compelling “sales story” focused on the outcomes their solutions are achieving for customers
If you are an executive, sales leader, or manager, I invite you to check out this post by Nate on Teradata’s blog. He shares more about this initiative and expands on the importance of the frontline sales leader. And if you are in sales or company leadership in any capacity, watch this short video with part of a conversation between Karen, Nate and me where I stress how rare it is to see a company gather senior execs and sales managers together exclusively to focus on sales culture and world-class sales management. We also dive into some sales management best practices and the benefits that accrue to the sales force and the business when sales managers lead well.
Oh how I wish more executives would have the humility to look in the mirror and ask hard questions about sales culture and sales team leadership instead of simply ordering up some sales training. And please don’t read what I’m not writing here. The salespeople and sales process can almost certainly be improved – and no one loves to lead workshops and offer content on improving your new business development sales effort more than I do. (New Sales. Simplified. anyone?) Yes, the salespeople can do better. But the blunt truth is that if culture and leadership and talent management are not addressed, any impact from sales training will be short-lived. So let me finish this post right back where we started: Huge kudos to executives prioritizing sales culture and frontline sales management! If you are in sales, that is exactly the kind of company you want to work for.