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The sales profession has now matured to the point that those you recruit are schooled in the basics but come to you with a mix of good and bad habits.

How do you get the sales organization headed in the same direction,
while avoiding the worst and replicating the best?

At risk is the return on your investments like:

  • Sales Training
  • Sales Process
  • CRM

The challenge is getting this return in the face of increasing technological and competitive turbulence.
Meanwhile you continue to focus on running the business:

  • Drive the numbers,
  • Push for call frequency

You ask for call reports to see if salespeople are making their numbers and are following your product marketing strategies.  But really, what now? “A little more of this, a little more of that?” – doing a few things differently.  Isn’t it time to stand back from this sales management treadmill and ask:

Are your people really on the same page with you?

Take a deep breath and say “It’s time to do different things, not do better with what’s been done before” If not, keeping your competitive position is going to be illusory as customers take for granted your value and expect more. Time to look at your organization and ask:

What value do we need to deliver to our team, customers, and other stakeholders to stay ahead?

Unless management, sales, service and technologists understand how they each need to continually recreate and contribute to customer value delivery, differentiation will elude you. The challenge is that each group thinks they understand each other’s expectations.  Yet, repeatedly, we find they are not! Typically, this leads to exasperation and you saying to yourself “They still don’t get it!”

Most sales executives express surprise when shown how few of their expectations are fully understood by their sales force.  The result is a sales force not knowing what is required. We find 70% of leaders’ expectations are either not known or understood by those expected to implement a change in strategy.

You may be thinking, even though we made our numbers last quarter, are we likely to repeat this success in the next 6, 9, or 12 months? This uncertainty and the need to explain missed sales targets to your board doesn’t make for good sleep.

If markets, competition and other factors are trending to greater uncertainty, how do you remain in control?

The answer is “you don’t”, at least not in the traditional sense. Greater uncertainty is not best served by traditional command and control tactics. Why? Because, the more complex a situation, the number of decisions and speed of action created will defeat attempts at more control.  It’s time to recognize a fundamental truth of leading in complexity.

“The deeper you align the less checks and balances you need”

Why? Those who are aligned with your vision, mission or strategy (call it whatever you like) will make decisions that take you toward your goal most of the time. When they make mistakes they will be more likely to learn and improve. Aligned people are easier to lead and are far less stressful – “they get it” and are looking for help to achieve the same things you want.

So, here are some questions to help you, provided you are brutally honest with yourself.

  1. Do you have a consensus of stakeholders on what misalignments are going to threaten the need for change?
  2. Are you clear on what you expect people to stop, start and continue to keep your competitive edge?
  3. Have you communicated your expectations in such a way that it invites your people to express their expectations of you and others?
  4. How have you checked out what you think people expect you to stop, start and continue?
  5. How have you tested what people think you expect of them and does it match with what you are looking for, in terms of the change you need to see.

(Nick Anderson is Principal of The Crispian Advantage and co-author of Focusing Change To Win with over 25 years sales management and consulting experience focused on aligning sales forces to meet changing competitive conditions)

Contact Nick at or (616) 745-8667