Create a Winning Sales Culture – Execute with Discipline – Visibility
“Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy, it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.” Miyamoto Musashi, legendary Japanese swordsman
Our examination of sales execution continues from the previous article where we reviewed accountability as the foundation for operational integrity. In this discussion, we will build further upon our proven “VAC” (Visibility, Accountability, Consequences) framework with insights as to the importance of “Visibility” for effective execution.
First, let me define what is meant by visibility. Genuine and credible visibility is more than just physical sight; it is an authentic and reliable perception in the mind’s eye as to the state of execution, based on what one sees, hears and understands regarding the effectiveness of people, processes, and designated resources in meeting goals for business growth. This kind of visibility includes the following: Customer and employee feedback, both first-hand and through reporting, including Key Performance Indicators. Examples of first-hand opportunities are these: Observation of front-line sales employees engaged in selling; sales operations reviews; customer feedback (at the point of sale for some channels, or participation via joint customer premises visits, etc.); communication through employee roundtable discussions, town hall meetings, and other settings which promote candid and frank dialogue – I could go on; however, I believe you get the idea. We all understand that micromanagement is counterproductive; nevertheless, one must strike a delicate balance to obtain requisite visibility. That is, the team will clearly feel your presence and steadfast support; nevertheless, you must not be overbearing.
Let me elaborate a bit more on the critical nature of customer and employee feedback. Customers frequently reach out to the business (via mail, e-mail, phone calls, social media, etc.) regarding product/service concerns and other questions. It is understood that leaders cannot field all of these inquiries, but it makes sense to take the opportunity to gain as many insights from talking to, and otherwise interacting with customers as time permits. From my experience, the greatest learnings come from the extremes. That is, one can learn much from extremely satisfied customers, as well as those who are disgruntled. On one hand, you learn what the business needs to keep doing well from one customer group and gain priceless insights as to what needs to be fixed from another.
From an employee standpoint, first and foremost, business leaders must have a feedback loop for information pertaining to each person’s well-being. Support of individual needs lays the groundwork for committed, loyal and highly engaged employees. Furthermore, leaders must seek a confirmation of process efficacy and integrity. (Here are a few of the questions that must be asked: How consistently are the defined operational procedures being carried out by sales team members? When performed correctly, do these produce the intended results? Do opportunities exist for improved productivity or efficiency?). And, most importantly, there must be a clear sense for the quality of the customer experience.
In summary, it is a business imperative that leaders will connect directly with frontline employees and customers for direct observation, and obtain pure and unfiltered feedback. Moreover, this is an activity that must be performed on an ongoing basis. The risk in not doing so puts business leadership in the precarious position of being out of touch with reality.
In winning sales cultures, leadership recognizes the essential nature of true visibility, and it remains a top priority to ensure the success of the business.
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