At the Sales 2.0 Conference in March, Michael Weening asked the audience: “How many of us have heard the story of ‘I brought in a Sales Vice President who was supposed to change the world and he or she caused all kinds of heck to break loose [instead] and a year later they were gone’?”
Although many CEOs believe that a sales leader exists who can come in, instantly shake things up, and get positive, lasting results, that is not the reality. According to Weening, who runs the wireless business organization for Bell Mobility (Canada), it’s not possible for a lone ranger to ride in on a white horse and “fix” the sales team. As he says in the clip above from the March 2011 Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco: “The myth of ‘the fixer’ is exactly that … to be a real sales leader and to be someone who transforms a business regardless of the current situation is to be somebody who actually does it without the big disruption.”
Weening’s presentation, “The Essentials of Sales Transformation” was one of the most popular of the day. Prior to his leadership role at Bell, he managed the Communications Sector team for Microsoft in the UK where he lead the transformation that reversed the organization’s revenue decline, drove double digit growth and radically improved customer satisfaction.
During his presentation, Weening made a few key points about sales transformation:
Number one: There is not much written for sales leaders about how to come up with a plan for growth and success. As he said at the conference, there are lots of books and resources about how to close deals or become a better leader, but very few about how to build a plan to change a sales organization.
Number two: Sales transformation is not just about taking a bad business and “fixing it.” A sales transformation can happen at any time in the organization’s lifecycle; moving from bad to good, from good to great or from a product to solutions centric organization.
Number three: Things usually get messy because people get promoted or hired and the first thing they focus on is the number. As a result, they get very busy: chasing deals, meeting customers, and running from problem to problem without building a plan. To successfully lead a sales transformation you need a plan that balances fixing the immediate issues with driving toward long term goals that result in sustainable change and results.