CEOs – Do you focus enough on sales and social media?
The successful CEO focus on sales and social media
Developing a company’s competitive advantage and break through the noise has become increasingly challenging. Globalization and the IT revolution have severely reduced the time a new product remains differentiated.
New global competitors are entering the local market in a never slowing speed. Considering these challenges, the most valuable prerequisite a CEO can have is significant sales and sales leadership experience.
SALES IS CHANGING AND BECOMING MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER
The importance of proactive and skilled sales is rising as the competitive landscape is becoming more complex. In more mature markets Sales is one of few opportunities left for companies to actually make a difference.
We live in a “copy with pride” world where every executive has already gone to the same top MBA schools for executive talent. Most companies therefore use the exact same go-to-market strategies and other models learned from the MBA theoretical training.
The competitive advantage has been eliminated due to the fact that most executives are shaped in the same mold and therefore thinks very much alike.
“Yes, even if you are a local company you get more and more competition from global actors entering your market, so stop thinking you won’t be affected”
For companies to compete and win in this commoditized global economy, their sales reps need to continuously perform on top level. Training and creating the most effective sales force will have an enormous impact on your brand, revenue, profit and company confidence.
It even affects the mood of the entire company. When Sales goes well everyone is positive however when Sales decline or stagnates, well, the mood elevator goes down.
To succeed, the CEO must take lead and recognize that the sales force is a vital and an offensive asset to a sustainable organization, especially when operating on a commoditized market.
It is imperative to understand the dynamics of this much overlooked differentiation engine.
“In the local commoditized economy everybody fights over the same cake, and Sales is one of few areas where you can make a difference”
Most companies have a regrettable cultural divide between Sales and operations departments, such as delivery and marketing. Sales people are too often looked down upon, as something the cat dragged in.
This attitude is contra-productive since those who work with Sales often act as the face of both the company and its services. A successful CEO recognizes that those who work with Sales are important and often determines the customer’s perception of the brand.
Additionally, these sales individuals take the pulse of the customers and their needs. No other people in the company have such close-up insights to the customers’ needs.
A successful CEO knows how to utilize this force as an offensive weapon to differentiate the brand and gain market shares; the successful CEO also recognizes that this is vital to the future growth.
The successful CEO will, and in fact must, have intimate knowledge and respect for Sales and work to eliminate this divide to better assess customer needs for future development. Too often are services developed by marketing “experts” who rarely, if ever, are out in the field talking to customers and acknowledging customers’ true needs.
Assumptions based service development and design has very expensive, sometimes ruinous, ramifications. The successful CEO must also streamline and make sales effective and cooperation between sales, marketing and delivery, where everybody works together more efficiently in the same tool.
A tool that can make the employees cooperate from anywhere at any time. Removing limitations is crucial. To not have real-time access to important events and trends in a commoditized market can be killing. Speed and good service might be the only thing differentiating you from competition.
“Business is like a man rowing a boat upstream. He has no choice; he must go ahead or he will go back.” – Lewis E. Pierson
CHANGED CUSTOMER BEHAVIOR DUE TO INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA
A modern successful CEO with focus on sales also recognizes that the customers’ behavior has changed over the last years. Previously, the customer almost always directly turned to a sales rep for advice.
This was the most common way of the early purchase process when collecting information to support purchase decisions. The sales rep. was almost always the single source of information for the customer.
Today, with the Internet and all the information available, customers most often do not turn to sales reps. until they reach somewhere between 50% and 75% of the purchase process.
A successful CEO recognizes this and utilizes this information to gain an advantage, rather than allowing this to set limits and boundaries. If you’re a CEO, you basically have two options:
1. Ignore the possibility to engage your customers early in the purchase process, by continuing with your business as usual.
2. Start thinking how you can utilize this knowledge to differentiate your company and get into your customers’ mind earlier in their purchasing process, and thus affect their decision-making.
The CEOs who continue with business as usual won’t see as fast growth, it any at all, as the ones who recognize this changed customer behaviour.
By having the sales and marketing people working more closely together, preferably in the same collaborative and customer oriented tool, including both CRM and marketing automation functions, they can really start to identify the relevant customers much earlier in the purchase process.
“Identifying customers early in the purchase process is vital if you desire to affect them in their purchase decision”
It is also important, especially for CEOs operating in consultant companies, or corresponding markets, to acknowledge that a better cooperation between consultants and sales is vital to grow accounts more quickly.
Consulting is one of the most commoditized service industries and there is not much to differentiate your company by. Sales and service is one of few areas left, due to its high dependence on personal behavior.
Bringing consultants closer to sales and vice versa will generate better understanding of the customer, more leads and shorten the time from a lead is known until the first contact has been established. In most cases speed, and being the first on sight, are the things that make the difference.
“Mobile tools brings colleagues together regardless of location. They also streamline processes, make the organization aware and make the business grow.”
To be able to work more efficiently and proactively, the CEO must provide the organization with the right tools. You won’t bring a hammer when you want to drill a hole. With:
▪ The right focus and recognition of sales importance ▪ An organization working together
▪ An organization equipped with the right, preferably mobile, tools, …
You, as a CEO, have already taken an important step to making your company successful. Influence your customers’ decision-making by taking action early in that process, and thus take control of the outcome of customer acquisition, or sit back and let your customers do all the hard work themselves and thus leave them alone in their decision-making.
We think the latter is called ‘hope marketing’… It’s your call