Presented by Gordon Littley
Managing Director Global Customer Experience Practice


In this compelling excerpt from the STAR Sales Team Alpine Retreat: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange Chronicles, Customer Experience and Change Leader Gordon Littley describes how to re-focus not only sales, but your entire organization, to practice continuous learning, become more customer-focused and develop more successful products in the process.

For decades, enterprises have focused on, and motivated their sales organizations based on whose objectives? The enterprise objectives, of course. Now, imagine a world where your motivations for success were based on achieving the client’s desired outcomes? This session drew upon the trials and tribulations of making that culture change. The path may surprise you. Here is one hint; it’s not just sales that has to change.

• Guidelines to improve success through clarity of purpose and creating autonomy
• Creating a culture of learning. You can only lead the horse to water, but what are the motivations to drink?
• Ideas for driving a client first sales culture, versus one that consists only of a monthly forecast

This session focused on the why and how of selling, not what you are selling. The challenges are increasing competition, trying to figure out ways to generate more revenue, and how to engage with your customer. At the end of the day, you can’t compete on product alone. Verizon began a process of developing demand, and figuring out ways to grow. Ultimately, Verizon needed an outside point of view to tell them what they were doing wrong and what they needed to change.

You have a product, now think about how to evolve it. In Verizon’s organizational culture, they were able to do a lot in sales to change how they thought, did business, and sold and marketed their products. They found that very few of their people could explain why they did something on a corporate level – these are the things they set out to address.

You can ask people to change their behaviors, but they need to decide for themselves whether they want to change. It is helpful to provide a constant learning platform. Explain, demonstrate, repeat. No one masters anything until they can teach it themselves. Lessons learned included:

1. In order to change behaviors, you have to rethink belief systems. You have to think of the customer’s objectives; you want someone who can co-create with their client.

2. Rely on training: You want people who can think on their own, and have creativity, autonomy, and the ability to constantly challenge assumptions. Often, they have to unlearn to learn.

3. Bring on independent learners: Verizon employees watched TED talks and applied insights to their business. Look for continuous learners, committed learners.

4. Talk to anyone who wants to listen. The transformation shows itself by leading with generosity and building deeper relationships. Look at who responds to RFP’s…at Verizon the chance of winning was at about 20%. If sales was involved in influencing it, it went up to 75%. If sales was involved in creating it, the odds went up to 90%. It’s not easy to do, otherwise we’d all be doing it. Only about 20% of people are truly adopting this formula.

5. Customers want to buy a type of outcome, what are you doing to help achieve that?

Business outcomes fundamentals:
• Opportunity co-creation
• Meaningful differentiation (about how you sell, how you engage)
• Implement measurable outcomes

The toughest part of change is creating a continuous learning environment. At Verizon, they used external resources like whitepapers, TED Talks, and people from outside the organization to help do this. This forced them to learn new things. Their challenge was creating a platform for people to learn and change their behavior.