The hidden sales challenges that ALL leaders must solve
Leaders tend to recognise the more obvious commercial challenges of developing capability, effective customer terms and efficient commercial processes and deal with them to varying degrees of success. However, there are 3 challenges that we think leaders fail to recognise, and therefore fail to deal with, leading to well…failure.
Strategic Alignment – Many businesses spend a lot of time on 3/5-year corporate strategy so surely everyone is aligned? Well, no. Frank Cespedes identified that only 50% of a company’s frontline employees are clear on strategy. And it gets worse. Whilst 80% of managers believed their companies had strongly differentiated products, fewer than 10% of their customers agreed…(and this in a context where companies fail to deliver c.60% of the financial performance their strategies promise).1 The chief error is that “top-down” ambition is not matched with the “bottom-up” key customer plans that unlock value.
Value Proposition – A buzz phrase for the 2010’s? A make-over for Features and Benefits? Whilst VPs are espoused by many leaders, the necessary work has not gone into identifying what they really are, how customer’s actually value them, and how well commercial teams communicate them. Moreover, the missed opportunity is using VPs as a roadmap for all product development and execution. This failure is astounding! If companies exist to meet profitably the needs of customers, how is it that most companies are not properly focusing on what their customers find value-enhancing?
Customer Experience – Five years ago, water companies were towards the bottom of the pile of customer perception scores. After all, what was the incentive to be better when the customer could not change supplier? Well through the sledgehammer of regulator penalties and a genuine intent to improve, many water companies have raced up the charts. They have done this by making serious and sustained cross-functional efforts to identify the gap between the ideal customer experience and the current reality. Followed by the application of apply significant resources, much of it digitally-enabled, to plug these. By contrast, we see many B2B businesses, where processes or behaviours mean that the customer experience is poor which impacts sales and repeat business.
Less visible issues? Less silo, more cross-functional thinking required? Critical for sales success? Absolutely. Now what are you waiting for?
1. Frank V Cespedes – Senior Lecturer in Business Administration, Harvard University. Aligning Strategy and Sales. HBR Press 2014
Paul is a director of KAMBridge. He also lectures on Strategic Customer Engagement at Aston UniversityShare on LinkedIn