As a business transformation keynote speaker, I often speak to organizations on how to achieve peak performance. Last week I was delivering a presentation to a sales division of a very successful multinational conglomerate when someone asked, “How do we really become a great sales team?”
Now this particular sales team was already successful. And like most successful sales teams, they were looking for an edge — additional tools and techniques to help them become even more successful.
There is no easy way to answer this question. Or is there? This reminds me of a recent article in Harvard Business Review titled, “Three Rules for Making a Company Truly Great”. In a nutshell here are the three rules derived from countless hours of research the co-authors did on 25,000 companies that have traded on various U.S. exchanges between the years of 1966 through 2010:
1. Better before cheaper: Compete on differentiators (better benefits) other than price.
2. Revenue before cost: Prioritize increasing revenue over reducing costs;
3. There are no other rules: Change anything you must to follow rules 1 and 2.
What companies or products or services come to mind when you read that list? For me, I immediately think of the car-sharing services Uber and Lyft. I am a big fan of both. The benefits they offer over taxis or other car services are exponential: Easier to “hail”, newer and more comfortable cars, cleaner cars, free water offered to me most of the time, friendlier drivers, simple to track my expenses, and the list goes on. Ironically, Uber and Lyft offer all of these exquisite benefits at a price point about the same or sometimes even less than a taxi. Though I would gladly pay more to take advantage of these benefits.
Another great company that comes to mind that successfully implements these rules is The Four Seasons hotel. They compete by offering exquisite, unrivaled service at a premium price. And when I visit a Four Seasons hotel, there is never an indication that costs were cut to avoid providing the freshest of flowers or the tidiest and most Zen-like lobbies, rooms, and hotel meeting spaces.
So back to the question, “How do we really become a great sales team?”, asked by a successful sales professional last week. The good news is that the multinational conglomerate that hired me to speak already sells amazing products with unique, game-changing benefits. And, I could see no indication of the company pinching pennies by cutting costs. (Likewise, the company was not gratuitously or unreasonably throwing revenue dollars away on frivolous expenses.) So if the team is not performing as necessary, look closer at rule three: Change anything you must to ensure rules one and two are followed. If you don’t sell the best products or services, what are you going to do about it? Why not go to work for a company that does sell the best products or services. Or, stay where you are and make your products/services absolutely better than your competitors’. I’ll give you some unique strategies to accomplish both in upcoming blog posts very soon.
In the meantime, what would you do to make your sales team truly great?