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The insight of great managers is that “People don’t change that much. Don’t waste time trying to put in what was left out. Try to draw out what was left in. That is hard enough” (2)
Sales managers or directors need their teams to deliver for their company and their customers. They need their teams to collaborate effectively. Often this is interpreted, as we need people who are XYZ and who can do ABC i.e. a team of like minded individuals equally capable and equipped. Great managers say, “excellent teams are built around individual excellence. The manager’s role is to make sure that each individual is positioned in right role…to balance strengths and weaknesses of each individual so that they complement each other” (2)
Having a team with diverse skills and talents adds strength, as there are opportunities for flexibility and adaptability. As markets change, a company’s speed of reaction becomes paramount to maintaining competitive advantage. This may mean creating ad hoc teams or to use a military term “rapid reaction forces” These teams may consist of people who don’t know each other, aren’t located together and have no experience of task/market or product they are being asked to deliver. However, through their diverse capabilities, talents, nationality and cultural awareness, as a compatible team, they can collaboratively determine their goal, plan and implement a strategy to deliver successfully much quicker and effectively than could a like minded group, who all think and act same. Imagine a soccer team with 11 goalkeepers!
“…the reason for virtual team failure is directly related to difficulties of building trusting, positive relationships across three boundaries of geographical distance, time zones and cultural differences.” (3)
Where a company is a global player, nature of its sales teams is different. A salesperson may have to manage a multi-site and/or multi-country customer and become a global account manager. They need to manage a global strategy in local markets and deal with differences of time, location and culture. They need to think and communicate differently to ensure their customer, their team, their manager and their HQ and support areas are kept informed and aware of what they are doing for and with their customers. Providing and using appropriate resources to manage this connectivity issue will often be a key factor in effectiveness. To truly share information and learn from it to benefit customer e.g. develop new products, takes well developed communication structure and processes.
“If one part of company learns something important about a process or market or customer, it has to be communicate to all…Sharing knowledge avoids re-inventing wheel and with all players up to speed, less explanation is required to make changes and become more nimble in market. That is core of a learning organisation” (1)
As such sales managers will take role of conductor and orchestrator ensuring that all players keep in time, play same tune and complete on cue together to give an unforgettable performance for their audience.
Inside successful organisations of future, product developers must translate customer’s changing needs onto new products and services. Tomorrow’s corporate leaders will have to discover new ways to make sure that everyone in organisation… keep their eyes on one thing; customer” (1) If they don’t their competitors will.
If a more intimate relationship between company/salesperson and customer is needed, traditional selling methods of “selling” features and benefits won’t work. A more consultative/partnership approach needs to be adopted. This will involve salespeople being industry, market and customer specialists. Only then can innovative or creative solutions be discovered. Maintaining edge is crucial to succeed Taking this one step further, means that companies need to create processes for dealing with change and having will, resources and structure to exploit it ahead of their rivals.
Delivering global value to customers has a variety of implications for salesforces. To keep ahead of competition requires capable people, compatible teams, connectivity networks and creative solutions. The task for company leaders is to provide structure and resources for mangers to deliver these for their people.
1 – The Great Business Challenges of New Millennium – HR Chally 2002 2 – First Break All The Rules – Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman 3 – Grovewell - www.grovewell-global.com
Beverley Hamilton, a professional coach and facilitator and owner of One Step Further, works with senior sales executives and international and global teams to improve personal and team effectiveness and deliver increased business results and customer loyalty. She has worked with clients in the public and private sectors both in the UK and overseas including British Airways, Lloyds TSB, oneworld alliance and Surrey and Carmarthenshire County Councils