How to Better Align Sellers and Leadership
Alignment Plays Into Success
As a seller, your ultimate goal every month or quarter is to hit your quota. When that happens, not only does your team benefit but typically so do you and your family through commission and accelerators.
The same can be said about sales leaders, where you don’t typically have quotas but specific KPIs that must be hit to also be rewarded a commission or bonus. In a world of self-help gurus and LinkedIn selling “evangelists,” it’s easy to focus on what you as a seller or leader need to be doing for yourself each day to improve. But what about your team alignment? How can you use business relationships to your advantage?
Why You Should Care
The data shows that in most B2B selling trends, the prospect is now approaching potential vendors much later than they have in the past. That means when a conversation begins with your selling team, it can be assumed that most of these people aren’t going into their first discovery meeting blind. Sellers want to be seen and heard now more than ever, so it’s of the utmost importance that your sellers collaborate with leaders and other team members to win more consistently.
According to Forrester, “While product and company messaging can be generic, your account strategy and go-to-market plans should be highly account-specific.” In order to do this well, you need to have a deep understanding of the key players within each account, what their business objectives are, and how your solution can help them succeed.”
As a seller, this means you must also be consultative and understand not just your own product, but also the competitive landscape within each target account. Only then can you put together a true value proposition for each unique buyer. This is where most sellers struggle when they begin to account plan – taking the time to really get to know an account, their business objectives, and how they buy before trying to sell them something. It requires a level of discipline that isn’t always easy to maintain when you’re trying to hit quota.
Understanding the makeup of your top accounts should be a top priority for sellers and leaders. Take the time to sync up around your top accounts with your manager, ask the aforementioned questions and begin to flesh out your accounts with their guidance. Not only does this help you understand your book of business more than the average rep, but it also shows you’re willing to take initiative and seek strategic advice from your leaders. When thinking of career progression, this type of best practice certainly doesn’t hurt.
The dynamic between a sales rep and leaders is different inside each business, yet the need for a strong goal-oriented relationship is always present, no matter your business size or industry. Group “synergy” and other buzzwords can only do so much to bring your team together, both sides of this relationship need to bring different assets the other side finds valuable. Here’s a view of this from both sides.
What Sellers need from Sales Leadership
If you want to be successful as a sales leader, it’s important that you set your team up for success by providing them with the resources they need to succeed. This includes things like:
A Standardized Account Planning Process:
In order for sellers to be successful, they need access to data that tells them what key stakeholders need to be engaged, why this account is a good fit for your product right now, what messaging resonates with this specific account, and what the path to purchase looks like.
The Right Tools:
Give your team the tools they need to be efficient and effective in their jobs. This should include a customer relationship management (CRM) system, an account planning tool, sales engagement software, or a marketing automation tool. We recommend using tools that make selling as a team easier, drive a consistent process across your sales team, and give visibility and reporting to leadership to help identify at-risk deals
Process and Methodology:
Your team needs a sales process that they can follow and repeat with each prospect. Here is where account planning can really make or break your selling strategy. If you can create a successful account planning template that your sellers are bought into, then you’ll see them stay organized and on track while keeping the buyer’s journey top of mind.
Coaching and Feedback:
As a leader, it’s important that you provide ongoing coaching and feedback to your team members. This will help them learn and grow in their roles while gaining the confidence they need to succeed. Review their deals, pipeline, and how they’re managing their account or customers. How can you provide support and guidance?
Make sure that you’re communicating your expectations clearly to your team so that there’s no confusion about what needs to be done or how success will be measured. Transparency and honesty are the most powerful weapons a leader can wield.
What Sales Leadership needs from Sellers
And now the inverse. In order for sellers to be successful, they need sales leadership that is supportive and invested in their success. Here are some things that sellers can provide leadership to boost internal alignment:
A Clear Vision:
As a seller, you need to know what the overall goal is on an account-to-account basis, and how your individual efforts contribute to the bigger picture. Without this clarity, it’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day selling motions and lose sight of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Alignment with Key Stakeholders:
In order for sellers to be successful, they need a multi-threaded approach to drive alignment with the key stakeholders and decision-makers within an organization (e.g., executives in marketing, sales, customer success, etc). This alignment ensures that everyone is working towards the same goal and minimizes duplication of effort. Getting all stakeholders marching to the same beat will shorten your sales cycle tremendously if done correctly.
Product and Content Feedback:
Make sure that your sellers understand your product and have access to the resources needed to do their jobs effectively (e..g. best practices, configuration guides, knowledge base articles, etc). Aligning with your customers on what is and isn’t working when using your tool will greatly reduce churn and help teams plan for road bumps in accounts before they’re already lost. Without this support-driven cadence in place, sellers will struggle to meet their goals.
One of the most important things that sellers need from sales leadership is access to engaged accounts—accounts where there is already interest from buyers and active discussions taking place about potentially working with your company