To deliver real transformation, the CEO needs to be the change and ‘own it’
As commerce starts to wind up again after the seasonal break, there will be many leaders of B2B
companies thinking hard about how to make 2018 bigger and better than 2017.
A simple way to review where you are at and what needs to change is to break your business down
into just three areas; build, run and sell. ‘Build’ is your product or services, ‘Run’ is your operations,
logistics and back office and ‘Sell’ is your sales and marketing engine.
To succeed in business it is a given that you must have a compelling and competitive product or
service, and you need best practice across your operations and administration. Do these important
areas need attention? Without devaluing build and run, I am focused on the most critical ‘engine’ in
any B2B company – Sales and Business Development. Sales and Business Development is an area of
the business that tends to just evolve with the occasional Sales Training ‘grease and oil change’. It is
also an area where the CEO’s ambition can be limited. Indeed the ‘tail can be wagging the dog’. Ask
yourself if your ambition is being held captive by the ability and performance of your Sales and
Business Development organisation? Do you think you should be doing better than you are?
The art of an effective leader is to know when to delegate, empower and manage, and when to take
ownership and be the change. When do you need to ‘own it’ and drive real transformation? No
successful leader would argue that they don’t need to take ownership of the culture of their
organisation and lead by example. Well, Sales and Business Development is all about culture, and it
needs to come from the top. You may have a great Sales lead, or you may not. Either way, if you
believe your 2018 can be bigger than your 2017 and you can visualise that delta, you need to know
(as opposed to hoping) your Sales and Business Development culture and team performance can get
Over my many years as a CEO, I and my sales leads have engaged plenty of different ‘Sales Trainers’.
In my experience Sales Training is a band-aid that addresses the symptoms of the problem, but not
the core problem itself. The core problem is an age-old problem; Sales is an incidental career, and
there is no tertiary path to make it the real profession it should be.
So how do you transform an active Sales and Business Development team on the job?
1. Scope a very clear CEO Ambition
2. Develop the Cadence Runways™ to align that ambition across ‘build’, ‘run’ and most
3. Install a Performance Protocol™ that becomes the powerful sales system and culture
driven from the top down
4. Maintain weekly Performance Reinforcement to ensure that the right people can and do
become proficient professionals (Consistent practice makes perfect!)
The CEO needs to be the best Sales and Business development person in the company. For some,
that’s easy, for others it can be a challenge. If you want to transform the performance of your Sales
and Businesses Development team, you need to ‘own it’ and lead by example. If you are doing it,
they will follow. If you delegate the required fix to your sales lead, who will no doubt engage some
more ‘Sales Training’, you will not achieve the transformational change you desire. You will also not
fulfil your true potential ambition. We all know if we keep doing what we’ve done, we will keep
getting what we get.
After over three decades as a CEO and following the sale of my businesses, I have spent more than a
year in deep research as well as working with CEOs and Sales and Businesses Development teams to
develop a transformation programme to address the core of this age-old problem. That problem is
that the most vital engine in any B2B company – Sales and Business Development – is probably the
most nonproductive. The question to ask yourself is what is that costing me? If the answer is too
much, then its time to be the change and ‘own it’.
The McGinn Partnership Programme is designed to help CEOs be that change and together
transform the capability and consistent performance of Sales and Business Development to align with
the CEO’s ambition.
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