This weeks Executive Series is with Rick Faulk. Rick is the CEO of Landslide. Landslide is a Sales Force Automation platform. Landslide is in Gartner’s visionary quadrant. (Disclosure, I use Landslide and like it a lot)
Before Landslide Rick was CEO of Mzinga. Other cool stuff Rick has done: CMO of WebEx Communications and President of WebEx small biz. He’s done a bunch of other stuff too. Read his bio, they (Landslide )made sure they go it all in.
What got my attention with Rick is his engagement. I wrote about my experience with Landslide a little while back. A few of the folks in this community asked some questions in the comments and Rick replied. I liked that. It wasn’t a sales person, or the head of sales that responded, but Rick. Being a sales leader myself, I am curious why it wasn’t someone from sales. But, that’s a topic for another day.
I asked Rick a couple of questions about Sales, Sales Leadership and what’s changing. I like his answers. Enjoy!
1) What is the most critical change happening in sales today, and what are the root causes of these changes?
I have a lot of respect for anyone working in sales today. Not only has the function as a whole undergone some massive changes but these changes have been happening in the midst of the biggest recession any of us has ever seen. Companies and customers are seeing their budgets shrink, and they’re extending their time between purchases, which leads to longer sales cycles. Add to that the fact that the internet has blurred the lines between traditional territories, meaning that a sales executive’s competition is no longer just the local provider, but any provider, anywhere. This leads to greater sales competition for fewer purchasing dollars.
Sales has always been a game of speed and trust: being first on the scene; and building a relationship that will result not only in business today, but business for the long-term.
At Landslide we arm the sales professional with the tools necessary to rapidly identify the best opportunities, and then seize upon those situations so they can yield business results. Moreover, our solution allows salespeople to manage the customer relationship well after the sale to build loyalty, retention, and growth.
2) Where are sales leaders failing today? What are successful sales leaders doing?
Successful sales leaders are and have always been great team leaders. In tough times, building morale among your sales reps is more important than it’s ever been. Keeping your sales team enthusiastic and motivated is critical in getting your team to put in the extra effort needed to close deals in a tough economy. And of course, it’s not just about effort; it’s about creativity and imagination. Great sales leaders — and the top reps who work for them — know that you constantly have to recreate yourselves as conditions change.
As to why some sales leaders are failing, I think you alluded to it earlier with your first question; they aren’t willing or able to adapt to the changing sales climate. A lot of sales leaders assume that what needs to be done is MORE of what was successful in the past and to demand the same from their sales teams. Successful sales leaders know what changes to make, when to make them, and how to successfully implement those changes within their team. To that point, there is a lot of fantastic sales advice out there on blogs (like this one), Linkedin discussion and other social media outlets that sales leaders should be utilizing. With sales constantly changing and developing, it’s up to sales leaders to seek out new techniques, tips and best practices that others are willingly sharing.
3) What is the most critical element companies should focus on when developing their sales organization?
There are two things I’d point to. One — no surprise here — is understanding their best practices and institutionalizing those into a repeatable process. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t be in the CRM software business. Organizations often rely on hope when trying to close business. They generate leads, and then seem to have this belief that some mystical transformation will take place that will result in a sale. They don’t take the time to analyze the very real, tangible steps that they can and should take to close business. A good CRM solution will help them to identify, capture, and refine that process.
The second element is that of chemistry and teamwork. Sales teams are made up of people. And like any group of people, they perform best when there’s the right mix of skills and attitude all geared to achieving a common goal — the success of the business.
4) What’s the future and direction of CRM?
CRM is moving towards a future where every aspect of the business-customer lifecycle is addressed seamlessly and effectively by using your CRM application.
We have a slogan at Landslide: “Find ’em, Get ’em, Keep ’em!”” It’s a vision that encompasses not only what we’d like to see happening within our own company, but also the success we want to drive on behalf of our customers.
“Find ’em” means finding the right prospects for your company and creating new leads – the lifeblood of any sales organization. “Get ’em” is taking prospects through the sales cycle and closing deals. And finally there’s the “Keep ’em” aspect, which means effective customer service that instills confidence that the customer made the right decision and ultimately develops into a long-lasting, mutually profitable relationship.