In this 3-part blog series, I’m excited to share some powerful insights from a lively discussion I recently had with Mike Weinberg—top-performing sales coach on new business development & sales strategies, and author of Sales Management. Simplified and News Sales. Simplified—and Teradata’s own Karen Thomas, EVP of Americas Sales & Services. Mike, Karen, and I talked at length about what it takes to build a truly world-class sales and services organization for sales professionals.
Part 3: Plan the Attack
This blog series concludes with Planning The Attack, an exchange of powerful ideas on the role of account/opportunity planning in the sales process—the critical importance of strategy and long-term planning as a formula for driving sales success.
Planning the attack. Sounds a bit intense, huh? Maybe so. Just the same, it’s a popular mindset among successful sales and services organizations who know from experience that planning ahead yields the best results in any sales strategy.
The importance of being strategic as a first step can’t be over emphasized. It’s all about account planning, and a big piece of that is identifying who to target for new business. It also includes short- and long-term goals—along with metrics to measure success—to effectively manage and grow strategic accounts. Without them, it can be difficult to distinguish whether sales teams are true value-creators and business builders, or simply living in reactive mode as prisoners of hope.
Coaching and helping the sales team to think strategically—to be more proactive—is an extremely important element of successful account planning.
In contrast, organizations that operate in a reactive mode lose the advantage. When teams fail to plan, they end up simply responding to customers in a game of catch-up or, worse yet, playing in a competitor’s already-in-progress game. Operating this way robs the opportunity to be perceived as a true value-creator and trusted advisor, which is essential for winning in the long term an account. Lack of planning says you’re not focused on your client’s critical business goals, and certainly not aligned on a path to helping them solve their business problems.
After all, even the best seller isn’t going to produce optimal results if they're not being strategic. They need to truly understand where their account is, and where they want to go—so they can connect with them at the right time of need and help them achieve their business goals.
The most critical component of a successful sales strategy for top sales leaders is time; specifically, the ability to strategically align their time. From a tactical standpoint, executing any part of the account plan should align to a strategy—one that has clear objectives and goals. Whether you’re meeting for coffee or formally with an executive, every meeting should have a reason behind it. There should always be an objective or a problem you’re trying to solve for the customer, and for their business.
Having a well-thought-out plan reminds sales people what they’re supposed to focus on, helping ensure that they’re pursuing the right lines of business and the right stakeholders in the client organization. That’s why every plan needs to be a living, breathing document. It can’t just be something that’s filled out once a year, then forgotten about. It needs to continuously evolve, and serve as a document the sales team refers to time and again. It should help answer the question, “Did we achieve what we set out to do? And are the values we’re presenting to our customers the same, or have they changed?”
Account plans not only drive opportunities, they are the enabling factor that aligns opportunities with the business value for our customers. Strategic account planning allows Teradata to pursue the business we want, where we know we can bring the most value, while driving sales success across the organization.
Learn more about what Teradata is doing to create a truly world-class sales organization for sales professionals. Watch the full video discussion here, What It Means To Partner With A World-Class Sales Organization.
Part 1 - The Role of the Front Line Manager
Part 2 - Building a Strong Sales Culture