Do you know your sales force?

Understanding the preference of your sales team is key in aligning business strategies with sales operations. A gap that is often broader than one think. While the gap may come from different sources, the fact that sales professionals do not always align their sales behavior with the company's interest is a demonstrated fact. Harvard senior lecturer, Frank Cespedes, wrote a book on and has dedicated an executive program to this thematic.

While the root cause could lie at the C-level communication and target setting, in the recent past I've taken a different approach to address this issue and stopped addressing the "why" question and moved the focus to the "how". How can an organization ensure that its sales team will drive the business as per the strategy? There are many approaches that can lead to the desired outcome (OKRs, sales performance visualization, sales organization architecture, etc.), the one I would like to highlight here is a method that diagnoses the preferences of sales teams.

Sales professional are like water they seek/prefer the path of least resistance.

So how do you determine which path a sales professional will take? The approach I have now been applying for several months focuses on identifying the preferences of a sales professional. According to the model, there are four dimensions which provide us insight on how the professional will behave on the job:

How does the sales professional inform himself about business opportunities?

In the first dimension, the sales professional indicates what is preference regarding information gathering. It enables us to understand whether the professional will prefer experiments with customers or data analysis to identify opportunities.

With whom does the sales professional prefer to play?

In the second dimension, we review in which environment the sales professional prefers to operate. We make here the traditional distinction between a new business-driven professional (hunter) as opposed to an existing business-developer (farmer) one.

What attributes does your sales professional prefers to show?

The commercial style dimension tells us how your sales professional wants to be perceived by his peers. Does she/he prefer to focus on developing its industry network? Or does she/he prefers to be regarded as a category expert?

Where does the sales professional puts the focus?

Finally, the last dimension tells us which approach and focus the sales professional take. Does the internal sales process have priority or is the customer at the core of your sales professional preoccupation?

How do these four dimensions help us in aligning strategy with sales? Well, it is relatively simple, it helps confirm strategy/execution gaps. In can also explain the failures of certain strategic initiatives. In its recent past, the assessment has helped companies explain and confirm the lack of sales process discipline or the absence of a clear understanding of the company's USPs. What happened next? In both cases, the redefinition of the sales process and the increased product/solution set the basis for improved performance.

So if you've managed to go through this entire post, here is your reward - take the commercial profile - preference assessment test and you will get your results for free.

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