Owning the Strategic Sales Shift


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It’s one thing to plan a strategic sales shift. It’s another to implement that shift. As a Sales Operations leader, it is your responsibility devise the execution roadmap. With a plan in mind, the first question you may ask is, “Who will own it?” Key considerations may be time, authority, expertise and, of course, ability to implement. So how do you put together the ownership team? Here’s how it worked for an IT manufacturing sales organization.

The manufacturer was taking a hit in new logo acquisition. They were seeing many SMBs migrating to the cloud and ditching hardware all together. For now, the manufacturer knew, their legacy business would sustain them. There were high barriers to exit that would stave off cloud competitors for now. But soon they would have to address this reality.

The SVP charged his Sales Ops Director, Doug, with drawing up strategic options. He used the Project Ownership Checklist to determine span of control. This tool allowed him to choose the right team to manage the process. Typically a transformation requires multiple work streams across multiple teams, or execution centers. Each execution center is responsible for the initiatives in its domain.

Doug lays out his process in three steps:

  1. He focused on the execution factors that would drive the strategic shift.
  2. He prioritized and sequenced the initiatives based on defined success factors.
  3. He decided who would own each initiative’s implementation.

Execution Factors

There were several key drivers to focus on. First, they needed to identify the buyer of this new solution. How many were there and how did they prefer to buy? Next, Doug had to decide if his team could effectively target the market. Did the reps have the expertise, and were they deploying the best channels? He needed a comp plan that incentivized the right behaviors and attracted top talent. And with a new market, comes the need for qualified leads.

Prioritized Success Factors

Each execution factor was vetted based on 4 criteria:

  1. Size of the Prize: What would be the impact of this initiative?
  2. Likelihood of Success: Based on the team and culture, what is our probability of meeting our objectives?
  3. Amount of Effort: Will there be a big lift and do we have the resources to execute?
  4. Level of Risk: What could cause us to stumble, or completely fail?

Based on his analysis, three initiatives were selected as top priorities:

  • Market analysis and segmentation
  • Talent management
  • Demand generation

Ownership Teams

Having a list of priorities is important. But the initiative will ultimately succeed or fail based on its implementation. The SVP needs to understand how this will be executed. So who should be in charge of this transformational change?

It begins with a steering committee. This team is responsible for ensuring the initiatives are aligned with the new strategy. They oversee planning and approve any processes or methodologies. It is important to involve top management, including the CEO, SVP and board members.

The executive sponsors would be the SVP of Sales and Sales Operations. They own the process and are responsible for its success. They are the liaison between the steering committee and the project team. Doug and his SVP would work in collaboration to ensure positive outcomes.

Project managers should be in place to manage the day to day activities. This is where the Sales Operations team can prove its value. Execution experts determine the cadence of activities and weekly checkpoints. They ensure the overall success of the project. Doug put his Sales Enablement Director in this position.

Finally, there are execution centers to be determined. Marketing would need to oversee the demand generation initiative. Human Resources would own talent management. The Sales Ops team would be tasked with determining the Total Addressable Market. For each initiative, Doug had to ensure the team had the bandwidth. Each had to buy in and see how their initiative supported the strategy.

The ownership cannot be restricted to one person or committee. Creating execution centers will ensure buy-in today. It will help adoption going forward. Sales Operations must find these areas of influence and leverage them. If this can be done, your team can handle the ambitious sales shift. Try the Project Ownership Checklist.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

John Kearney
John Kearney serves as Senior Consultant at Sales Benchmark Index (SBI), a sales and marketing consultancy focused exclusively on helping B2B companies exceed their revenue targets. John has helped organizations implement Talent Development and Sales Process programs that have led to revenue growth of 20% and increased efficiencies within the sales team.


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