SBI Podcast

Today’s show is a demonstration on how a chief strategy officer can help a sales team. A common challenge among sales leaders is taking strategic imperatives the CEO has laid out in the strategy and translating that into an operating plan. The head of strategy can help sales leaders solve this problem.  As a guide to the discussion, download our 10th annual workbook, How to Make Your Number in 2017. Turn to the Sales Strategy section starting on page 258 of the PDF.

Joining us is Julian Lighton, Chief Strategy Officer at Renaissance Learning. Renaissance is the leader in K-12 education technology enabling teachers, curriculum creators, and educators to drive phenomenal student growth. Julian’s experience includes leading strategy at Hitachi, Cisco, Neustar, and Rovi, which is now TiVo.  Before that Julian was a partner in software and services at McKinsey. Julian is uniquely qualified demonstrate how the strategy officer can help a sales team.

The greatest contribution to the sales team by the head of strategy is to hold the problem together.  This involves asking, "Which is the greater priority? Therefore, what am I really supposed to be doing?”  This approach keeps the problem from disintegrating and being left with five different problems.  Asking these questions prevents problems that aren’t commonly defined and fractured resources working on different things.

Julian describes Value Creation Planning as a framework to understand how a company generates value for its shareholders.  This breaks down into a series of value drivers and underneath that a series of KPIs or metrics. For a sales leader, the top value drivers are going to be market acquisition.  The includes finding new logo customers, net new customers, driving wallet share, cross-sell, up-sell and finally renewals if you're in a subscription or services business.  Listen as Julian demonstrates what a sales leader really needs to understand to move each of the KPIs attached to the value drivers.

Why this topic? The best sales leaders we see blend strategy and execution masterfully. The average sales leaders we see don't understand strategy, even though they think they do because they think a collection of sales tactics is a strategy. This is not their fault. Most of them have never been trained on strategy development. This is where a partnership between the sales leader and the chief strategy officer can be a great partnership and produce great results.

The final segment of the show addresses the elephant in the room.  Often sales leaders think strategy is disconnected from getting the job done. They're worried about hitting this month's quota. Why should a sales leader care about strategy? Listen as Julian outlines three reasons sales leaders should care about strategy.  

Direct download: AP1648-Julian_Lighton.mp3
Category:Sales Strategy -- posted at: 5:33am EST