Leadership Trends in Sales & Marketing

Our retained executive search practice covers all of the major functional areas of a company.  As part of our work with our clients and prospective clients we have the privilege of observing and discussing various trends of importance with companies across a wide spectrum. From time to time, we observe a significant trend that we embrace as a leadership advisory firm.

In various hard goods industries, such as building products for example, we are observing companies making a significant shift in their requirements for Sales Leadership and Marketing Leadership. 

These companies are actively seeking senior sales executives and marketing personnel who are capable of leading and enabling the sales organization to work more broadly then simply relationship selling. 

Trend - Growing Beyond the Relationship Sales Model
While strong relationships are always very important, the needs of and the “sophistication” of the customer have evolved, which leads to a new paradigm for sales success. Additionally, there is increased competitive intensity in almost all segments which chip away at existing relationships. 

Therefore, relying on relationship selling too heavily can leave a company vulnerable to a serious competitive attack.

Trend - Go-to-Market Strategy backed by a Measurable Sales Process
Our clients are seeking from us Vice Presidents of Sales, Vice Presidents of Sales & Marketing, Directors of Sales, Channel Marketing Managers, etc. who have the skills to develop a Go-to-Market strategy that leverages their company’s unique competitive advantage(s). 

Additionally, the clients require these sales and / or marketing leaders to be capable of implementing the Go-to-Market strategy via the creation of a measurable sales-process, per channel customer. 

With the growth of CRMs, such as Salesforce, Smartsheet, Base, etc., the tools are there for small competitors to enact these types of competitive tactics on a similar scale as their larger rivals. 

Paradoxically, at the same time, many companies’ CRMs are simply a data warehouse that are not being analyzed for use in developing and improving their Go-to-Market strategy nor developing and improving their sales-process.

The following link to a previous Pulse titled, “The Joy of a Sales Process”, addresses sales process development in more detail.

How Do These Trends Impact Your Company?
If you are a senior executive, sales leader or marketing manager, do you know your company’s Go-to-Market strategy off the top of your head? Would others in the company agree with how you articulated the Go-to-Market strategy?

If not, that is a serious topic to be addressed. Of course the Go-to-Market strategy is designed to support the company’s overall strategy.

Is there a mapped sales process in place designed to implement the Go-to-Market Strategy? Does the sales organization understand the connection between their daily activities, that are guided by the sales process, and its impact on the success of the Go-to-Market Strategy?

Does the Sales Process guide sales management with:

  • Forecasting?
  • Understanding competitors’ strategies?
  • Point out where more effort needs to be placed in earning a customer’s business?
  • Shine a light on key successes that can be leveraged more deeply?
  • Guide the sales manager in coaching and training each sales person based on that sales person’s specific needs?

Again, if the answer is “no” to most of these questions, it is another serious topic the company needs to address.

For Sales and Marketing Executives Looking to Advance their Career
If you’re in the sales and / or marketing profession and looking to advance your career, the skills required to be excellent in developing a Go-to-Market Strategy and Sales Process should be a major focus of your professional development.

There is ample material on the web to create your own training program geared to your specific industry. It is worth your time to invest in studying other companies and industries that are successful in these areas.

The value of tight customer relationships should never be underestimated. It is an essential building block of commercial success. 

However, it is not the only key to success. Customers are more sophisticated consumers, whether B2B or B2C. The customer needs to clearly see the specific value your company can deliver in addition to the relationship. 

Not only does this approach bring in customers, perhaps even more importantly, it is this approach that will keep the customer and enable you to go after even greater share of wallet of each customer you have already acquired.

About the Author
Rob Waite is a Managing Director with the firm of Allen Associates (www.allensearch.com), a retained executive search firm, and he is a corporate board member. Rob also wrote the internationally published book, “The Lost Art of General Management”.

Jared Gibbons

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