Cutting Through the Noise: a Few Conversations with Top Sales Execs
Last week, at the Alexander Group’s annual Chief Sales Executive Forum in Florida, I had the opportunity to spend quality time with some of the most successful and challenged Sales VPs in the world. And, after many conversations over a day and a half, it dawned on me that what these guys truly care about is very straightforward—and when it comes to successful selling, probably hasn't changed since the stone ages: **building and managing pipeline, and closing business**. Sounds silly (and rather anti-climatic) but in every conversation I had, their concerns and needs consistently came down to those two things. As big and complex as their organizations are, with all of the products and services they offer and the BILLIONS of dollars of revenue associated with their forecasts, **they were just asking for the lives of their reps to be easier**. To paraphrase one VP from a multi-billion dollar high tech company, “just give me confidence and visibility into what they are doing. And, please, make the lives of their managers easier too so I can stop hearing them complain about how hard it is to manage.” I heard these pleas over and over. And, as one of the other sponsors of the event raffled off a set of noise cancelling headphones, it hit me. In their quest to successfully sell, Sales VPs and their reps are in need of something to ‘cancel the noise’ so they can move deals along. Give them the info they need at the right time to close deals—without all the noise—the content chaos, CRM updates, messy interactions with numerous internal stakeholders and all of the other pain they are currently facing. And, as sweet as those headphones were, there is a need in the form of software, specifically software that enables the day-to-day sales process, if they really want to be successful. At least that’s what the folks with the most at stake, the Sales VPs, confirmed with their questions last week (3 and 4 times in some cases), “You can help me cut through the noise for my Reps?” or “You really make it THAT simple?” Believe it guys. We can, and it is. My final takeaway from the event, and again—no surprise here—**all of these sales guys were hyper-competitive**. In one case, I had a conversation with a VP of a multi-billion dollar organization that said his company was “old school” and that he felt inadequate compared to some of his peers at the show. He admitted to almost walking away from me during our conversation because he felt his company’s cultural challenge was so great. But, he did stick around long enough for us to chat about some of what he learned from his peers at the show, some of the technologies he could use to bring his team to the next level, and how his sales team could, in fact, change company culture by doing what sales guys do best—closing deals—better than any other sales team in his organization. It was an exhilarating conversation, and I have no doubt his team will be ahead of the pack in short order. I also have no doubt his impressive (and amazingly human) mix of humility & drive is probably what got him to the position he is in. Sales leaders are a breed of their own, and whether with this VP or any other, through my conversations last week, I truly gained an appreciation for the challenges they face, the responsibility placed upon them quarter over quarter, the sheer passion they have for what they do and the big job I have to do—helping them cancel out the noise, focus and drive results.
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