sales performance ecosystem

Aligning (the right) elements (at the right time) across the ecosystem is one of the quickest ways to radically improve your organization’s sales performance.  Since many of the elements intertwine and should align, but don’t necessarily overlap, it’s possible to manage multiple sales performance/change projects at once without overwhelming your sales team.

Make no mistake — sales performance projects are change projects.

The result of this synergy is an even greater impact on performance.

Today, I want to share another way to approach the ecosystem and use it to improve your company’s sales performance.

We could debate where elements fall within the ecosystem and occasionally I wrestle with that myself.  As just one example, do business acumen (domain expertise) and financial acumen belong in Sales Talent Management, or should they be part of Sales Enablement?  I’ll always take feedback, but in this post, rather than grapple or debate, I’ll focus on how elements can be weaved together in a certain way, regardless of the category in which they reside.

Say Hello to Your Customer Lifecycle!

“The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.” ~ attributed to Socrates

Definitions abound, but one I really like comes from

“Customer lifecycle is a term used to describe the progression of steps a customer goes through when considering, purchasing, using, and maintaining loyalty to a product or service.”

For this post and purpose, I’ll only address customer lifecycle from a sales perspective, as it relates to:

  • Lead generation (finding new opportunities)
  • Opportunity management (managing those opportunities to acquire a new customer or develop a deeper relationship with a current account)
  • Account management (the practice of strategically developing current accounts)

Obviously this is very high-level, so terminology, processes, and practices may vary at your company, based on your market, company, and various sales nuances.

customer lifecycle, sales perspective

Generally, the cycle starts with finding a lead and winning a piece of business from a new account, or account acquisition. From left to right, you can follow the path of a lead, which becomes an opportunity that’s managed through the buying and sales processes, to become a current account. After that, you determine account objectives, create an account plan, and execute against the plan.

It becomes cyclical as you begin to execute those plans, because some of those activities will be very similar to what led to the account acquisition in the first place. There will be lead generation (within the current account) and when an opportunity is identified, you’ll begin a sales cycle and manage that opportunity through the buying and sales processes. That will allow you to [insert account objective here… probably “Grow”) your account, and the cycle will start all over again.

Customer Service, Customer Experience, and Customer Lifecycle Management (CLM) pros will recognize this as only the Sales lens – and there is far more to CLM – but our focus today is on Sales.

Peanut Butter Meets Chocolate

When you look at all of that, and layer in the ecosystem, I recognize that it’s enough to make your eyes roll up in your head.

lifecycle meets ecosystem

If you want to have that awesome peanut-butter-meets-chocolate experience, it’s just a matter of looking around the ecosystem oval and finding the elements that complement the lifecycle.

For example, under sales force effectiveness in the ecosystem, social selling methods are used in lead generation (when applicable). Sales process and sales methodology fall under opportunity management. If you continue with the identification process, your ecosystem document might look something like this:

matching ecosystem to lifecycle

For additional clarity, you could draw lines linking the elements of the ecosystem to the lifecycle, but you get the picture. The remaining piece of prework is to determine how to approach the projects.

Putting It All Together

This is just a matter of:

  • Conducting a gap analysis
  • Determining your initial focus
  • Developing project plans

Conducting a Gap Analysis

Reviewing each of the merger points between the ecosystem and lifecycle, the next step is do a basic gap analysis. If your sales force is strong in social selling methods already, or at least “Good Enough For Now” (GEFN), there’s no need spending more time there, at least now. In this stage, simply identify the gaps or areas of biggest need.

Determining your Initial Focus

Look at the areas you’ve identified, to see if these projects can be run concurrently or need to be run sequentially. Even though many of the elements of the ecosystem don’t overlap, some may.

  • If your team needs clearer messaging, new account development methodology, and to learn effective social approaches, you probably want to stage those projects (although messaging and social might be combined, based on whether the messaging is completed but unused, or needs to be created/refreshed).
  • You likely could run a buyer persona project, MQL to SQL handoff process updates, opportunity management training, and some content marketing or collateral upgrade projects, simultaneously.

Developing Project Plans

After thinking through overlap, your initial priority focus areas, and an overall project plan with phases (concurrent and sequential) to address all gaps, you’re ready to begin individual planning for the actual projects. Since this is a conceptual versus tactical post, I’ll stop here for today and leave you some related reading on other aspects of this work.

As usual, this is what I think. More importantly, what do YOU think?

I look forward to your thoughts, opinions, and experiences, and anything you might share to help others. Check out the Related Reading below and feel free to add links or the comments about your favorite sales transformation approaches or resources.

Thanks for reading, be safe out there, and by all means, let’s continue to elevate the sales profession.

Mike Kunkle

:: transforming sales results ::

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Related Reading:

Customer Lifecycle

Sales Performance Ecosystem

Other Related Sales Performance Posts