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My Thoughts on HBR’s “Dismantling the Sales Machine”

I came across an HBR article that is very relevant to all of us called “Dismantling the Sales Machine.” It’s a great read for every sales and marketing leader. It questions many assumptions and provides suggestions to change the way we think about sales productivity. It’s offers a set of guiding principles for transforming a sales culture.  Here are my thoughts and some of conclusions that are very relevant to the we’re doing together in SalesHood.

The article starts with a clear problem statement that I agree with: “Companies are reporting longer sales cycle times, lower conversion rates, less reliable forecasts, and compressed margins.”  There are three main points that are relevant to every sales leaders and sales team.

1.  Process driven selling is being replaced with deal specific insights

Every customer is different. Their problems are different. Their decision making process is different. Their desired outcomes are different. It’s almost impossible to cookie cut a consistent process that is followed by every salesperson.  Problem solving is a critical skill that is grounded in thoughtful discovery and solutions that present quantifiable benefits.  Sales teams will improve pipeline quality and close bigger deals if they focus on issues and outcomes rather than a structured sales process. Solve big problems.

2.  Sales managers are coaches and facilitators rather than enforcers

Rather than instructing sales teams what to do, successful sales managers create a culture of best practice sharing and strategy development on deals.  An environment of collaborative problem solving and creativity is nurtured by sales managers. Sales teams come together and give each other open feedback on how they can add more value to their customer engagements. Salespeople help each to uncover compelling events, and critical business issues. Blind spots are highlighted with a positive spin rather than a forecast driven fear. “Exemplary sales managers serve as connectors within & beyond their teams, encouraging collaborative strategy development & problem solving.”  The new sales manager is the ultimate communicator.

3.  The best sales people create demand and focus on long term growth

Winning sales teams are encouraged to cultivate new pipeline. Waiting for leads to come in is no longer the right strategy for building a business. Inspiring salespeople to uncover and solve real customer business problems is the right focus for sales teams today.

I’m grateful for this article as it nets out what I’m seeing with many companies and sales teams. The best way to start shifting a culture is one sales manager at a time and one deal at a time. I’d encourage sales managers to think about embracing these ideas. Try it out with your team.

Join SalesHood and embrace the concepts of this article by running Sales Huddles and Team Challenges with your sales teams today. Don’t wait to make these changes a reality, start now.


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About the Author
Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen is the author of SalesHood: How Winning Sales Managers Inspire Sales Teams to Succeed and the co-founder of SalesHood, a SaaS sales enablement platform and community for sales professionals. Elay is the former Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce. Recognized as the company's "2011 Top Executive", and credited for creating and executing all of Salesforce's sales productivity programs that accelerated its growth from $300M to $3B+ in revenue. The sales training and sales support innovations delivered over these years by Elay and his team to thousands of sales reps resulted in unprecedented hypergrowth. He also created the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) category.

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