What the Fortune 500 List Teaches the Sales SVP

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The Fortune 500 list is out. It’s the annual ranking of America’s largest corporations. There’s one aspect of the list that’s pretty amazing. Only 57 of the original Fortune 500 have been on the list every year.

Fortune 500 list


This fact illustrates a simple truth. Making the Number one year is easy. Making it in consecutive years is hard.

Will you make the number next year?

Download the Thought Leadership Guide to Next Year here. See the actions you should be taking now to make the number next year. Why? If you’re making the number now, you can capitalize on the momentum. If you are behind right now, you may only have one more chance. No one should be asking themselves “What happens to me if I miss it again?”

How to Use the Thought Leadership Guide to Next Year:

  1. Download the guide
  2. Forward to specific managers within your organization
  3. Ask each manager to click on the link for his area of responsibility
  4. Tell managers to:
    • review links
    • compare best practice to current state
    • put an appointment in your calendar to discuss
    • Appointment must occur in the next 3 weeks.

    You might be wondering why you should care about this now. It’s Q2. Experienced leaders, however, know specific things must occur today for next year to happen. For example, how long is your sales cycle? For many of our clients, the average sales cycle exceeds 6 months. In this situation, the sales leader better be evaluating net new leads NOW. The number and quality of this week’s net new leads matters…next year. Your 2014 revenue number is already on the line.

    Let’s look at a few other areas you must strategically evaluate before Independence Day. For a more complete list, download the Thought Leadership Guide to Next Year.

    Compensation Planning

    Why does everyone evaluate sales comp at the end of Q4? It makes no sense. You have some good hunches now about what’s broken. Why wait and delay your team’s comp plans again? Most comp issues are not about comp – they are really territory or quota problems. If you dig in now you can review these items in the right sequence.

    Talent Management

    Here’s another area where leaders procrastinate. Assessing and TopGrading the organization seems like a heavy lift. But think about next year – can you get there with your current team? Replacing poor performers and properly enabling new hires takes time. Time you will not have if you start in the fall.

    Sales Process/Sales Training

    Even if you’re certain your team uses a selling process, that’s not enough. A process that does not match how your ideal customers buy won’t ensure success. Instead, you’ll be like two ships passing in the night. Your reps are “selling” like crazy, but your buyer consumes differently. Nobody sells anyone anything anymore. You need a method to help your buyers buy instead.

    This takes time, but the end result is huge for your revenue. Start now by conducting research into your buyers. Build a tight sales process that matches the stages of their buyer’s journey. You can enter next year aligned with your ideal customers. Meanwhile, your competitors will struggle with a legacy sales process, or none at all.

    Demand Generation and Lead Management

    Don’t skip this topic assuming that it is “marketing’s job.” Sirius Decisions says that B2B sales forces only follow up on 20% of leads. Of those they follow up with, they view 70% as not ready to buy. The punch line? 80% of that 70% buy from you or your competitor within 24 months. When they don’t buy from you, it’s because you didn’t nurture them. So at the moment they were ready, you weren’t there. To capture these lost opportunities, you’ll need to reach across the aisle to marketing. Act now. Collaboration on lead definitions and a follow up process takes time.

    Senior Sales Leaders rise and fall based on their ability to make the number. “What happens to me if I miss it again” need never enter your mind. The trick is to understand there is no trick. There is timing, sequence, and execution. Learn the lesson of the Fortune 500. Next year doesn’t start next January. It starts right now.

    Republished with author's permission from original post.

    Mark Synek
    Mark Synek serves as a Principal at Sales Benchmark Index (SBI), a sales and marketing consultancy focused exclusively on helping B2B companies make the number. Mark is an industry thought leader, with deep experience as an executive. He has served in multiple positions as both a sales and operations leader, with a track record of outstanding performance in both capacities.

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