The more Sales leaders I meet, the more I’m struck by one thing – no one is getting the results they want.


That’s partially down to numbers being pulled out of thin air by finance teams under the cosh from investors demanding relentless growth. But even accounting for that, Sales leaders (outside of a few aggressive, agile start-ups) just aren’t seeing the results.


And they know it. You know it. You know that the numbers aren’t stacking up, that you’re seeing fewer and fewer prize-givings and weekends away with their teams, and spending more and more time in deal review meetings, getting dragged over the coals.


I’ve met leaders despairing. They know that not enough of their frontline salespeople can deliver their value proposition consistently to a C-level audience. They know the tools they’re being given by enablement aren’t flexible or usable enough. They know that speed to market, conversion rates and bottom lines are all suffering.


They can see it happening… but their hands are tied by legacy infrastructures, by bloated corporate structures and by company leadership that think we’re still in the 90s. ‘Coffee is for Closers’ mugs on CEO’s desks raise a smile, but sometimes they betray an attitude that can make delivering results almost impossible.


So, what needs to change? It depends who you ask. Nothing, judging from most Sales organisations operating at scale. “F*cking everything” according to a friend of mine who oversees EMEA sales accounts for a global tech company.


He thinks that nothing short of deconstructing Sales and rebuilding it as a fit-for-purpose, 21st-Century-ready industry could change things. Old tech, old attitudes and old standards are too ingrained.


His vision is for Sales departments that are lean and – vitally – autonomous. Layers of middle management need to be rendered down for candles or crayons, and Sales leaders need the budget and freedom to make fast, incisive decisions, increasing reponsiveness, agility in uncertain economic times and speed to market.


It’s a dream, we all know that.


But the key takeaways can be applied. The main point here isn’t what needs to change, it’s the openness to the idea of change. Change in any real, meaningful sense is difficult. It sweeps away old processes, old mind-sets and beliefs. But openness to change is fundamental.


It’s resistance to change, or the structural impossibility of changing quickly enough, that is punishing people’s bottom lines. For everyone to start getting the results they need, Sales organisations need to be responsive, fluid and quick to adapt, building flexibility, autonomy, scalability and openness into their systems and processes from day one.


A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, and step one here is getting that idea into the heads of those calling the shots and holding the cheque book.


I said it was simple, I never said it would be easy



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– Tom @WSL