The Sharpening Stone – Awaken the Sleeping Giant

I’d like to tell a couple of stories today, and I suspect you’ll probably nod your heads and recognize some of the scenarios.

There was a sales team that I knew, and they did okay.  They were close to quota, but never really blew it out, nor completely bombed.  I asked the manager why?  Well, one of the five sales reps always did great! Two struggled, and two were just okay.  Why was that? Well, some reps have good habits and skills, and some don’t.  Some are trainable, and some are not.

When you go through the process of examining your team, examining your sales process, and analyzing the territories you assigned each one, you can figure out ways to optimize your team.  The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon has great tools for analyzing your team.  A proven sales process that I’ve always had good results from is MEDDIC. Google it.  Lots of info out there.

In another situation, there was a small business that was actually up for auction. It was a father-son operation, and they had maybe a couple dozen employees. When I asked them why they were closing down, they said they had a few key accounts they had relied on for years, and when the biggest one pulled their business, they had nothing to backfill the orders with, so after a year or so of struggling, they closed down because they had not been actively pursuing new accounts well enough in advance. How sad!

In my experience, a lot of people just expect orders to come in. They rely on word-of-mouth and a good reputation for customer service to bring new business to the front door, but I have to say that the only thing that brings visitors to the front door is leaving your trash out too long, and that’s just usually raccoons!

Listen, sales isn’t natural. Business development takes a certain type of person, and a deliberate approach. Not everyone is wired for it, but everyone needs it. There are some basic skills that everyone can learn to be a little more wired toward finding new business.  If you add some element of compensation or award for all of your employees’ plans, you may “awaken a sleeping giant” for your team to start finding new business instead of just thinking, “oh, that’s the boss’ job.”

That is our hope for everyone: that all of our customers and partners can embrace even just a slightly more of a hunting mindset. Trust me, it works wonders!

About the Author: Michael Lambert

Michael earned a distinguished Bachelor’s of Science with honors in mathematics from the US Naval Academy. After five very rewarding years active duty as a Marine Corps officer working in aviation logistics, he began his civilian career. Initially joining IBM in a supply chain function similar to his role in the Marines, Michael quickly zeroed in on client-facing responsibilities where he felt he contributed most naturally to the company. The remainder of his career has been through successively broader sales and sales management roles, both at IBM and at other technology companies, culminating in his most recent position as the head of a sales, marketing and consulting team for North and South America where he helped turn around a struggling business to eventually help exit private equity ownership and complete the sale of the company to a strategic buyer.

Michael brings a wealth of experience to bear for True Edge clients who desire to grow their businesses, define and execute strategic plans, improve sales and business development functions, optimize compensation plans, build high-performance customer-facing teams, and the like. He is excited to leverage his experience with large enterprise “best practices” to benefit local business leaders in their efforts to reach more customers in a professional and repeatable way.

The Sharpening Stone

The Sharpening Stone is a series of short videos from True Edge designed to sharpen leaders and their organizations.

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