Commercial Talent: Optimizing Sales Productivity

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Bill specializes in maximizing the ROI on your Go-To-Market (GTM) strategy by optimizing the talent, processes, data, and technology that supports it. His expertise includes project-based solutions for:

  • Sales compensation designs, rollouts, and implementation to create win-win alignment between your growth strategy and your sales force.
  • Sales productivity assessments that yield rationalized resource allocations and prioritized strategic GTM investments.
  • Leadership for cross-functional process optimization initiatives to provide your field with the performance conditions they need to meet your goals.

Additionally, he offers fractional/shared services to share his expertise with sales operations & support organizations to fill temporary capability or capacity needs.

Q. When you’re at a networking event, how do you describe your independent career status, and the value your expertise brings?

At this stage of my career, I am most fulfilled by sharing the expertise I have developed over decades of working with intelligent and hardworking people on ambitious and frequently cutting-edge sales productivity strategic initiatives.

I have recently become a solopreneur, having concluded this my best vehicle for to maximize my contributions to the greatest number of organizations.  

Q. Why do you think there is increasing demand for independent expertise with PE operating teams?

PE firms purchase portfolio companies based upon the potential to improve their profitability and valuation. The plan to achieve these improvements is described as an investment thesis.

While PE firms possess the expertise to identify these opportunities, their portfolio companies can lack the capabilities to realize them. In addition, the PE firm's expert resources can lack the bandwidth to implement them across all their portfolio companies at the same time.

Their need to scale their resources to realize their investment thesis increases the demand for independent, expert services.

Q. Describe a recent or successful assignment in terms of scope, duration and any particular highlights in the outcomes.

Many of my strategic initiatives solved how to meet aggressive revenue growth targets without a proportional investment in sales headcount. This is an example of such a transformational program at a large medical device (withmultibillion $ of annual revenue).

The math was simple, indicating the only way to address this challenge was to significantly improve sales productivity.

First, we worked with our cross-functional leadership to identify strong productivity growth hypothesis to test. Concurrently, we gathered and analyzed cross-functional KPIs to assess these hypotheses and identify others. We also obtained the “voice of the field” by forming a Field Advisory Board consisting of top field performers and influencers. This group proved to be invaluable for vetting hypothesis, obtaining rapid field feedback, change advocacy, and leading by example.

Our primary strategic challenge was to adapt to changes in our customers' purchasing processes, with buying decisions now being made at the C level rather than the department (SVP) level.  We found ourselves competing for funding with other buyer strategic initiatives, not just against our traditional competitors.

Our other strategic challenge was a rapidly expanding solution portfolio, much of it acquired via acquisitions. This tested our generalist account manager sales model to its limits, as sales specialists were expensive and in relatively short supply and the generalists lacked the required knowledge to sell the new solutions on their own.

To meet these strategic process challenges, we prioritized:

  • Creation of a model sales process, which highlighted each organization’s role in meeting our strategic growth goals and selling to CxO best practices.
  • Creation of sales playbooks for each sales motion, which served as:some text
    • Our "common sales taxonomy"
    • Accountabilities for all sales & sales support roles across the conception-to-close sales process.
    • Evolving sales best practices
  • Creation of our buying/influencing customer persona profiles, including their role in our customer buying processes by sales motion.
  • Creation and field-testing of compelling marketing collateral by solution, buying/influencing persona, and sales stage.
  • Implementation of a content data warehouse, which we integrated with to push relevant content to opportunity owners based upon their opportunity inputs.
  • Creating clear exit criteria for each sales stage, as determined by how the buying/influencing personas were progressing along their buying process.
  • Rolling the above out to the field at our sales kickoff, followed by a cascading communication plan that engaged sales manager for change management via their weekly funnel and deal strategy reviews to ensure adoption.

We also identified a serious talent gap amongst our front-line sales managers, many of whom had been promoted from the ranks of top performing sales reps without adequate coaching on achieving results through others. This was a critical element in our change management plan, without which the rollout would have failed.

The results of these efforts, which took approximately 15 months to accomplish, is best described with a story...

Standing before 500+ salespeople at our annual sales kickoff, the field pressed me to explain how we expected greater sales productivity from them. Prepared with our sales enablement and support rollouts, I outlined the above strategic initiatives. Using field influencers to define and promote these best practices throughout the kickoff and beyond, the sales force was enrolled in our plan to make our aggressive growth targets, and we did.

I have many other examples that I invite you to view in my Talmix Passport and/or LinkedIn profile plus stories to share if we were to connect.

Q. What advice would you give to anyone about to embark on an independent career as to how they can provide the best results for a client, while fulfilling their own career path?

First and foremost, listen carefully to fully understand your client's aspirations, challenges, and needs.

Always emphasize end-to-end, cross-functional synergies. Processes most often fail at organizational handoffs, and these often provide simple quick win opportunities.

Create and communicate the agreed upon executive success criteria for your initiatives to point to when organizational agendas diverge, and cross-functional issues arise.

Finally utilize program, project, risk, and change management best practices to ensure a ensure successful strategy implementation. 

Q. What's your favourite thing to do when you're not on the clock?

I am an avid soccer fan and outdoor enthusiast, who lives in the shadow of Mount Rainier WA. I am also blessed with two beautiful, young grandchildren who live close by. 

Are you in need of cutting-edge sales productivity strategic initiatives? Engage with talent like Bill by posting a project now, or by talking to us about how to build up a pool of similar talent in the field.

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