Building your sales team identity

Shankar Ganapathy
December 7, 2021

I was reading this Mckinsey article on building an organizational identity and started wondering how can we apply the same principles as we build and scale revenue teams. 

Many sales organizations have a well-defined sales playbook (or CS playbook), clear guardrails and rules of engagement, well-articulated value both during the selling and delivery stages of the customer journey. But when we study the actual customer experience as they move through the customer journey, it leaves a different impression. It often feels like two different worlds - strategy is great but the execution is broken.

Often the individual pieces are great - great qualification, discovery, sales cycle; impressive handoff document, well-aligned new customer onboarding plan and execution, and ongoing cadence of QBRs and EBRs. But when we start looking at how all of this comes together for the customer, we realize there are two challenges: 

  1. The customer gets a broken experience. Our buyers have to deal with many emails, ppts, documents, and pdfs from our AEs, CSMs, delivery, and support teams across several months and years and there is nothing that connects the dots.
  2. Our playbooks are static and there is hardly any data on the customer journey to inform and update our customer engagement playbooks. 

Sales teams of the future have closed this gap by putting the customer experience at the center of their playbook for both sales and post-sales teams. They are also articulating and translating this strategy from the organizational to the individual level and communicating the implications of the identity for each human in the revenue team. 

Steps that you can take to build your Sales Team identity

Building a strong sales team identity is crucial to the success of any business. Here are some steps you can take to develop your sales team identity:

  1. Define your company's mission and values: Your sales team identity should be aligned with your company's mission and values. Make sure everyone on the team understands and is committed to these principles.
  2. Set clear goals and expectations: Clearly define your sales goals and expectations for each team member. This will help everyone stay focused and motivated.
  3. Create a team culture: Encourage teamwork, collaboration, and open communication among team members. Foster a positive and supportive environment where everyone feels valued and respected.
  4. Develop a unique selling proposition: Identify what sets your product or service apart from the competition and make sure your sales team understands and can articulate this value proposition.
  5. Provide ongoing training and support: Regular training and support will help your sales team stay up-to-date on the latest techniques and strategies. This will help them feel more confident and capable, which will translate into better sales results.

I am going to use the same three elements from the article to define the modern sales team identity: purpose, value, and culture.

  1. Purpose: Customer Centricity

We all talk customer-centricity but at the end of the day, our sales team’s purpose is measured using revenue and won deals, delivery teams are measured through implementation success, and customer success teams on renewal. While we focus on this, we lose the core spirit of our identity - customer-centricity. In the age of ‘land and expand’, delivering outcomes to customers is fundamental to our ability to grow revenue. 

To do this, we need to turn customer success from a function to a mindset. Sales and revenue are a consequence, solving customer business problems should be the goal. 

  1. Connect purpose to value

A purpose only translates into results when you translate it into an organizational strategy. A customer-centric mindset means all our revenue teams are working as one single unit and customer doesn’t see any break in the experience as they move from purchasing to deployment to value realization. Given that our sales, delivery, and success teams are (most likely) rolling under different P&Ls, having a strategy to connect the dots so that customer experience is not getting broken is going to be central to our ability to deliver on the purpose. 

Some of the initiatives we can take could be around committing to a stronger collaboration between internal revenue teams, providing customers with a digital engagement system to get a connected experience as they move through the customer journey, or consistent and measurable value articulation in sales and deployment processes, etc.

  1.  Define behaviors that help you deliver the value

By intentionally shaping a culture of customer-centricity, a sales team can rapidly and sustainably deliver a superior customer experience. However, this becomes the organizational behavior only if concrete, specific and measurable behaviors are defined. These behaviors have to be defined both at an organizational, team, and individual level. 

A customer-success-centric sales organization is going to ensure there is a systematic approach to value discovery, value proof, value delivery, and realization. They also ensure all the dots are always connected for the customer (just like a CRM connects the dots for internal teams)

One leading conversational experience technology company underwent a complete ‘customer-success-centric’ transformation in <6 months where all their revenue teams (AEs, pre-sales, delivery, and CSMs) went from using siloed tools for customer collaboration and experience to using a shared collaborative space with their customers to align on buyer goals, milestones, key actions, and activities to get there. 

Only by creating a coherent and connected customer experience can sales teams thrive in uncertainty, differentiate from competitors, and increase revenue per customer faster than before. 

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