Category Archives: Sales Effectiveness

An industry leader’s thoughts on optimizing your sales organization. Leveraging over 25 years experience building and leading effective sales teams across technology, energy, asset management, life insurance, annuities, and consumer products industries, Mark’s insights help you build and lead your sales team more effectively to drive market beating growth.

Free Growth Assessment

Tired of slow growth? Simply keeping pace with the market? or Holding off on plans to launch new products, enter new markets or new channels? Call or email us to receive a complimentary growth assessment to show how Independence Associates can help energize your business, drive growth, excite your team and your customers. We are happy to dig in and show you ways to break out of the post downturn doldrums, and fast. Do it now, you can’t beat free: or (612) 326-6407.

Required Weekend Leadership Reading for January 24, 2014

Take time to improve yourself through some interesting commentary on leadership, financial services, and some fun diversions.

Business Leadership:
How Curiosity Cultivates Creativity (Fast Company)
Pricing Experiments You Might Not Know, But Can Learn From (ConversionXL)
Discoverly’s nifty free Chrome extension marries data from Facebook & LinkedIn data (exclusive) (VentureBeat)

Financial Services Insight:
Auto features improve DC participants’ chances of reaching goals (Pensions & Investments)
Assets vs. Prices (The Big Picture)

Interesting Diversions:
Watch Music Bring Back Memories for Alzheimer’s Patients (The Atlantic)
Warren Buffett Will Give You $1 Billion If You Make A Perfect March Madness Bracket (Fast Company)
The Universe in a Glass of Wine: Richard Feynman on How Everything Connects, Animated (Brain Pickings)
What’s eating the gigabytes in Samsung’s 16 GB Galaxy S4? (What’s eating the gigabytes in Samsung’s 16 GB Galaxy S4?)

Organic Growth on a Shoestring Budget

It remains a challenging environment, and you are looking for ways to grow organically without a big boost in your investment or expense budgets. Is it even possible? It is. There are multiple layers of organic growth to capture, often without changing cost structure. It starts with listening. The key to organic growth, incremental budgets or not, is to optimize your organizational strengths and market opportunities. The easiest way to do that is by getting into the organization, being accessible, and listening to front line team members. Then do the same with your customers and prospects. Listen, learn, and get a good sense for what works and what doesn’t. As a bonus, you learn how self-aware your organization is. Be open-minded, strengths may be organizational, ‘your customer support is way better than your competition,’ product related, ‘the xyz feature is unique,’ even intangible, ‘we feel good about our relationship.’ Now, develop a strategy to leverage those strengths, shore up the weaknesses, and promote them as differentiators. A little change of emphasis in your sales & marketing, internal communications, your own behavior (do not let this be a onetime thing, stay visible, stay engaged, keep listening), and maybe your metrics might be enough to change your revenue trajectory.

The next layer of organic growth may also be achievable on your shoestring budget. Listen carefully for opportunities – not just from your customers and prospects, either, your team members know your customers well. You may just uncover underserved or unmet needs. It is entirely possible that modest changes in product or organizational design can create breakthrough differentiators.

It all starts with listening, to your team, your customers and your prospects.

Motivating Sales Teams

I came across this article the other day, and it sparked some deeper thought on getting and keeping your sales team on the same page as the organization. I love the core premise of the piece: that compensation is just one piece of the sales motivational puzzle. I am particularly fond of Colleen’s points #3 – Protect Your Team, #4 – Reward Your Team verbally or with an e-mail, and #5 – Separate the Manager from Selling. This goes to creating a supportive environment in which your sales team is positioned to win. I tend to agree with her point #6 – Have a commission plan that rewards your team for the behaviors you want. It goes without saying, but her sub-points about keeping it simple, ensuring everyone understands and encouraging team behavior are good. I think there is an important elaboration, though, and I would make it point #1. Consistent with my core philosophy that truly high performing organizations start with a well reasoned, well articulated strategy, your sales organization is an important part of that downstream messaging. Clearly translating your organizational vision into direction and implications for sales and marketing keeps everyone working toward the same goal. Ensuring that sales compensation plans dovetail with that messaging is vital. Finally, stay in front of the sales organization. Be visibly supportive and engaged, and use that time to keep reinforcing the overarching goals for the organization and the vital role the sales team can, and is, playing in making the vision reality.

What sparked my thoughts: