The globalization and digitalization have a huge impact on B2B companies, not least on their sales organizations. Instead of only capturing leads, scoping an offer and negotiating price, sales need to take the role of creating new business opportunities through innovation, thought-leadership and proactivity. Many companies have already started this transformation – but many of them still fail. Why? We have identified three common pitfalls that stop many companies from a successful sales transformation:
Aiming too high, too fast
Many companies start with high goals and ambitious plans, but they forget to tailor the execution plan to the maturity of the organization. Successful companies tailor the solution to meet the needs of the organization, establishing a stepwise approach to ensure that the new processes give them the desired effects. This is just as important when using a well-established sales methodology – you still need to adapt it to your organization and its capabilities.
The far distance between transformation office and frontline sales
Many companies have a Sales Excellence unit, responsible for sales process development, CRM, incentives and sales training. These units rarely have hands-on sales experience from the daily work with real customers and deals. Still, they are often put in charge of the sales transformation program, with insufficient involvement of sales management and the best-performing sales reps.
Successful companies involve the best sales reps and sales leadership in planning and executing the sales transformation program, driving it close to the customer frontline. This way they build trust from the people in the frontline, and secure that new tools are tailored to meet the needs of the sales reps, rather than that of the corporate management.
Building assets, forgetting the people
Without investing time in change management and training, you won’t succeed even with the world’s best new sales process, methodology or CRM system. What you need is to build new skills by combining people from different teams to cooperate and learn new ways of working.
One example is forming a joint task force between marketing and sales, or providing central executive sales support to local teams. One of our customers had senior executives from the corporate sales organization to join forces with local sales leadership to coach and train local sales reps in a new way of selling. The result was a new proactive, insight-driven way of engaging with their customers.
So, let’s sum up what we’ve learned on sales transformation with a checklist that will increase your chance for a successful B2B sales transformation:
- Tailor transformation to the organization’s maturity
- Drive transformation to where customers are – at the frontline
- Transform through your people
Want to know more about how to drive customer-oriented sales transformations? Reach out to us.
Jonas Nodler, partner at Ascend