Exploiting Alignment to Win More Sales

by | Jan 27, 2022 | Plan.Grow.Do., Thought Leadership

Exploiting Alignment to Win More Sales

Exploiting Alignment aka “singing from the same hymn sheet”

Exploiting organisational alignment is the difference between good businesses and great ones.

Great businesses know the results it brings and deliberately goes after it.

They know the behaviours they want to see and invest the resource they need to make it happen.

From top to bottom alignment through all departments, being highly visible, appreciable, and palpable.

Some organisations think it too difficult and perhaps even consider that’s all’s well…I suggest you read on.

Imagine that every employee in your company knows exactly how their job delivers profit to the bottom line and which activities they perform in their daily work to support the companies revenue goals.

Do you think you would see greater teamwork? Better engagement? More sales?

Without being deliberate in creating alignment across behaviours and processes into every employees daily routine, operational silos will always appear.

Unintentionally, these silos divert effort away from sales and customers experience, directly impacting the company’s performance.

Look to yourself and your leadership are you working across these silos to set the standard from a behavioural and an alliance perspective?

Or are you driving in isolation your own agenda and your own pursuit of functional operational excellence?

Are you connecting the work you and your team do to making sales and delighting customers?

I’ll make a statement for you to reflect on:

If you are not passionate about creating more sales and delighting customers why would any other employee see it any differently!

Steve Knapp

Alignment Impacts the Results

  • 56% of aligned organisations met their revenue goals, and 19% beat their goals. Among misaligned organisations, by comparison, just 37% met their revenue goals, and just 7% beat them. (Act-On Sales & Marketing Alignment Survey, 2015)
  • 58% of companies with a high degree of profitability relative to their rivals report that the CEO has ownership of customer experience management. (Genysis)
  • Aligned organisations achieve up to 19% faster revenue growth – and 15% higher profitability than other companies. (SiriusDecisions, 2015)

3 Cultures That Will Impact Business Performance

Your Company Culture

Let’s start with the culture in your company and this is playing out in your sales teams right in front of your eyes.

We are seeing an ultra-competitive, transient and fragile sales profession. Accelerated by the pandemic, lockdowns and buyers changing their behaviours.

The average tenure of a B2B salesperson is now at an alarming 16.8 months with less than 5% of salespeople staying with a company for more than 5 years (Sales Hacker).

This means that a buyer does not have the desire to invest in the traditional relationship as they may have previously done.

It could be argued that they invest in the seller’s company.

Well, only as long as the seller’s company continually brings insight & opportunities that the buyer had not yet considered, or the buyer sees a high value in.

If this happens the company will continue to hold a position of trust.

This trust, however, is paper-thin as buyers now prefer to buy online, gaining greater discounts as they are dealing with lower-cost channels.

This change in transactional buying behaviour is why executives and owners of a company have to step up their attention to winning more sales & retaining customers.

Remember that 57% of a buying decision is already made before a buyer formally enters the sales process (if they enter it at all).

This evolution in buyer behaviour requires an evolution in the senior executive’s behaviour.

They need to take a leadership role in aligning the organisation because a salesperson can no longer go alone as they once could.

However, the role of the seller becomes critically important in connecting the value chain & creating a frictionless alignment between internal teams.

Ensuring they are effective in the creation and delivery of insight and value-led propositions.

This makes the need to develop long-term relationships at the C-suite level in the customer’s organisation vital.

With Key Account Management practices bringing other departments to the account plan discussions, even more, important in the delivery of new & innovative offers.

Download your free Key Account Management Guide

Your Sales Culture

The harmony you create in your sales culture is often directly linked to how alignment sales and marketing are at a fundamental operational level.

Sales and marketing alignment delivers, on average, a 36% improvement in customer retention and 38% higher sales win rates (Act-On/Gleanster, “The New Stewards Of The Customer Relationship,” 2015).

If this is such a well know outcome why does this still remain one of the biggest areas of untapped value in an organisation?

I believe a reason for this is DNA, well maybe.

Sales and Marketing come from different gene pools and I continue to be confronted by the stark differences within the personality types of Sales and Marketing professionals.

This difference is one of the reasons they blame each other for the poor results or stand up to take the glory of a good outcome.

Ever heard something like this;

“Sales can’t sell because they just don’t understand the proposition well enough”

The Marketing Team

or

“the propositions from marketing are just the same as everybody else so we end up selling on price”.

The Sales Team

Another reason is likely to be structure & again tradition.

If you have someone leading Sales and someone leading Marketing, do you not think they are driving individual agendas to some degree, specifically if you are setting the differing goals & objectives.

Perhaps now is the time to combine these roles and think of how a CRO (Chief Revenue Officer) might create better alignment and outcomes?

This is not easy to do, or more companies would be pushing at 38% higher win rates.

Three Steps to Improve Sales and Marketing Outcomes

Define ownership of the steps in the Sales Process.

Marketing is usually responsible for the first steps building brand awareness, creating a marketing plan, and generating sales leads.

Then Sales executes the marketing plan and follows up on the sales leads. It’s important to build a feedback loop to take onboard learning for integrating into future propositions and lead generation activities.

This division of responsibility is simple and it prevents Marketing from getting too involved in individual sales opportunities at the expense of more the strategic activities they are employed to deliver on.

Sales and Marketing share responsibility for delivering the revenue.

It goes back to my DNA point.

If you ask them to be accountable for different objectives they will continually be able to blame each other. 

I know this might create some challenges around your pay structures, but, this alignment will be sure to put these growth engines on the same track.

Integrate Sales and Marketing metrics.

Sales metrics are easier to define and track for sure, but, the need for common metrics becomes critical as Marketing becomes more embedded in the sales process and as Sales plays a more active role in Marketing.

See more about the digitalisation of the sales process.

A Recognition Culture

Often underestimated is the impact of saying thank you.

Recognition and the value this creates if missed and we move to the next big thing and the next goal with recognising the success we’ve had and the people that helped us achieve it.

When asked what leaders could do more to improve engagement, 58% of respondents replied “give recognition.” (Psychometrics, A Study of Employee Engagement in the Canadian Workplace 2010). 

Choosing the right sales incentives to motivate a team can be a challenge.

On one hand, they need to be exciting enough to motivate a sales force to do something different. On the other hand, they also need to fit within a company’s budget.

For Incentives you should consider these 3 categories;

Job-Related Incentives

This incentive should be something “sexy” enough to get an employee excited but at the same time also have the potential to positively impact the salesperson’s productivity.

The employee wins by getting a neat toy that helps them to work more productively to drive more results.

The company wins because the prize not only motivates the salesperson to work harder to earn it but also because it will ultimately make them more effective.

This is often a tech-based reward.

Tangible Incentives

While offering a Cadillac or set of steak knives as prizes backfired in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross, tangible incentives can be extremely effective motivators.

The secret is to choose a prize that the team member actually would want and likely wouldn’t buy on their own.

Experiencial Incentives

Experiences impact happiness more than purchases and the memories live longer.

Who wouldn’t be excited about a few days in Dubai or a week in Monaco?

There’s a reason that travel and experiences are such popular incentive is that they work. You can squeeze more performance out of an experiential incentive by creating a competition.

Getting these 3 cultures right will help you exploit the prize that is hidden in a better-aligned organisation.

What is the B2B Leadership Gap?

Read more about Sales Leadership in our new book.

Sales is changing – it has had to, thanks not only to the worldwide pandemic, but also because the “new kids on the block”, aka the millennial generation, have an entirely different perspective on the world…

Plan.Grow.Do. want to share their ideas on how to change the face of sales, both in the here and now, and for the future. Change often requires us to look back at what’s gone before, identify the good, the bad, and the downright ugly, before creating a new playbook that can take us forward, and we believe this is what we have achieved with this book “Modern Sales Leadership”.

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The digitalisation of the B2B sales process. Why traditional business must adapt.
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