Why do I get Sales Puppies when I ‘Cry Havoc’?

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It is one of Shakespeare’s most evocative quotes, “Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war”.  And it sits as a treasured wish at the heart of every Sales, Product and Vertical leader in your organisation.  They want nothing more than a sales force that resembles that pack of snarling aggressive attack dogs charging towards customers seeking opportunities to create value for them (while capturing a fair piece of it for themselves, of course).

Why then are these leaders more likely to refer to their sales force as a gaggle of 6-month-old half-grown puppies that bounce around demanding attention for the project of the hour with little commitment, less understanding and no focus?  A leader I listened to spoke of his frustration at hearing from a number of sales leaders that they needed an opportunity pack for Technology X only to be told a month later (after spending significant Technology X development effort) that X was outdated and Technology Y was now what is required.

It is a sad fact, but puppies are born from listening to what customers say.  This is a hard thing for RedSandStrategy to report, as listening to your customer is the bedrock of all we do.  But experience tells us that if you ask a customer what they want, they will ask for either today’s hot trending technology or a variation what you have, slightly modified, faster and costing less.  It is equally sad that when presented as a customer quote, this request has credibility and attracts resources.  Whatever the cause, requests without insight creates delivery without longevity.  So, your high performing sales ends up imitating the actions of a puppy bouncing around with lots of energy but no focus.

There is a simple cure for this.  Providing your sales force with insight into how your customers make money allows them to ask questions.  They question why technology X is required and how it will create client profitability.  And when they return home, they can do more than say Important Customer(s) want this.  They can explain why it will make customers money and justifies your attention.

There is bad news and good news about understanding your customer’s business. It is not as simple as you hope, but not for the reasons you fear.

Companies very often think that their customers hide their business process as a hallowed treasure that is not to be shared.  This usually not so and simple questions – with the commitment to remain silent while listening to answers –usually gets you far more than you expected.  After all, everyone likes talking about themselves.

However, you must have the ability to listen through what customers say to understand how this drives her business.  And then you must have the ability to simply communicate this to your sales team in an actionable format.   This requires a specialist skill and it is not often available (and yes RedSandStrategy does specialise in providing this).  But once you have this actionable support in the hands of your sales team you have every reason to expect that those excited yelps and yips will change into the baying of a tightly focused pack out hunting for profit.  Your customer’s.  And yours.

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