I sat down with a CEO recently and asked her some pointed questions…here are the highlights…might be some insights that apply to your business…
MA: From your perspective, when you lose a major sale what are the common reasons?
CEO: we are not the cheapest option. We don’t want to be either. I believe we lose out because we fail to support our price through our value contribution.
MA: Is that a capability issue or a behavioural issue? Or both?
CEO: Both. But capability is a reflection of attitude and behaviour. Sometimes I think because of our strong brand we can be lazy.
MA: lazy during the sales process?
CEO: Yes, there can be an over reliance on our brand doing the selling…unfortunately while this works a lot of the time it doesn’t work every time. Actually our brand works against us at times. I still think we lose too many opportunities.
MA: As a CEO you would think that…
MA: Within your sales function, what one change, if made, would shift the game for you?
CEO: we are starting a major initiative to embed stronger ownership at our in-country manager level. Having them think and behave as business owners we believe will drive stronger client outcomes and in turn impact the business.
MA: “ownership”, is that another word for leadership?
CEO: yes partly. But the issues run deeper than just leadership. Client outcomes must be owned at the local level not just regionally.
MA: What is the biggest frustration you (as a CEO) have with your sales function?
CEO: I have three frustrations: firstly, what I call “dilution” meaning that by the time frontline feedback reaches me it has morphed and been diluted. That makes it hard to know the real picture of what is happening in the market.
Secondly, my “client teams” working in isolation. This constantly frustrates me. It’s an internal communication issue.
Lastly, the ownership issue I spoke about earlier. Critical layers not owning outcomes – but something that won’t be a problem moving forward.
MA: What future challenge poses the largest risk to your business?
CEO: In the medium term it’s one thing: Talent…!
…My upcoming book, The Intrepid CEO, dives deeper into bold strategies CEOs employ to future proof revenues and drive profit…it will be available for pre-order very soon!
Watch this space….