These are some of the current thought processes out in the marketplace; which ones would you say describe your personal mindset or that of your organization?
- “We have so much business right now and not enough staff or resources. We can’t possibly sell more right now.”
- “Shipping costs and supply chain problems are eating away at our margins. We’re holding off on any new investments until things calms down.”
- “My sales and account management teams only want to work from home. I’m getting pushback on having them return to the office at all.”
- “We’re doubling down on growth and investing in our teams. We know that the next change will come. We plan to be ahead of the game and win.”
- “Our board is back to growth mode. We’re adding new capabilities and services because we intend to grow by 25% this year.”
- “Our team is primarily out of hibernation – they’re in the office, in the community, and out with clients. We’re seeing a strong positive upturn in morale.”
If you describe yourself and your situation within one of the first three statements, you’re riding the current wave of the market and it’s going to take you where it takes you. That’s likely going to take you down the path of stagnation and it will be very challenging for your organization to recover, let alone grow.
If you describe yourself and your situation within one of the last three statements, you’re much more likely to be in the leadership position, creating your own innovation wave. Sales leaders and organizations that are designing their own Sales Innovation Wave will thrive; they’ll continue to win, attract the best talent, and grow. Like a surfer looking for the right wave to surf, you as a leader need to be looking for your firm’s next innovation wave.
What exactly is a Sales Innovation Wave? How do you apply it to your sales growth?
A Sales Innovation Wave is part strategic plan and part process, where leaders recognize a major pattern in the marketplace, and use it to leap to their next level. Where other leaders see obstacles, you see opportunity.
There are four pillars to the Sales Innovation Wave to consider:
- Sales Process and Sales Methodology:These are the core structures underlying your sales organization. Sales process is your staircase; it is the approach you take to help your customers navigate their decision process. Sales methodology is your chess match; these are the strategies, skills, and tools you have at your disposal to earn business and grow your market. They matter to sales innovation because organizations require a balance of structure and freedom, of tactical and fluid paths to create new ideas, products, and services.
- Strategic Agility: Agility is one of the five capabilities I write about in The Modern Seller and is also a top skill that organizations are looking to hire for right now. Does your organization have a process to both hire for agility and to cultivate agile thinking across business segments?
- Sales Leadership Mindset: Mindset will drive your culture, innovation, and action; it will ultimately either create progress toward your desired result or move you away from your desired result. The phrase “the shadow of the leader” is very pertinent; your team’s commitment to contribute to the culture, innovation, and action reflects their leader. Look no further than your high‐performing, idea‐generating sales team members to gauge the overall mindset of the team.
- Data and Metrics: Data can cover a range, from the tactical data in your CRM to assessment data on your leadership and team, to the key metrics you track. Do you have a Sales Innovation Metric? This type of metric can spur new ways of thinking that can help you fine-tune your processes, improve customer experience, find new markets, or introduce new offerings. This can start with your sales team if you take the time to develop and harness it.
What’s the Next Step?
The next step in creating your Sales Innovation Wave is to evaluate your own sales leadership mindset and that of your teams. Whether you self‐evaluate or leverage an outside perspective, you’ll gain valuable insights into your capabilities around this concept. Make the decision to innovate versus riding the wave of the current marketplace and leverage these pillars to support your sales innovation journey.
Amy Franko is a leading expert in modern sales strategies. She works with growth‐oriented organizations to significantly improve their B2B sales strategy and sales team performance. She’s a LinkedIn Top Sales Voice and author of the best‐selling The Modern Seller. Learn more at amyfranko.com.