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Andy Rich | BizDev3.0 | Philadelphia, PA

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The internal revolution that delivers a predictable, rapid growth curve requires a scalable sales team. This revolution always starts with the sales leader; it is always launched, modeled, promoted and defended by that leader, in close collaboration with the senior leadership of the company; and it always expands outward.

In this revolution, the sales organization’s operating cadence eventually sets the rhythm for every other team in the organization, whether or not that team is responsible for sales. This operating rhythm challenges some core assumptions about who should be calling the shots. That’s as it should be. Why? Because salespeople and company leaders are entrepreneurial in nature—and entrepreneurs with discipline are key enablers and promoters in rapid-growth organizations.

Implementing such an organizational cadence means that instead of operating within an operational hierarchy like this:

Traditional Slow-Moving Companies

Corporate finance drives:

  • Product development
  • Product management
  • Operations
  • Marketing
  • Sales

… sales leaders are actually responsible for creating and operating within an operational hierarchy that looks more like this:

Success Cadence Companies

Executive committee (which includes the sales leader) drives:

  • Sales, which drives:
    • Corporate finance
    • Product development
    • Product management
    • Operations
    • Marketing

Make no mistake. The rest of the organization must follow the rhythm, the cadence, that you, the sales leader, establish as you carry out your responsibility to attract, onboard, support, and retain an escalating, but always targeted, number of salespeople who are both willing and able. This is the key to building a scalable sales team.

Sustaining that rhythm, no matter what, is your job. In carrying out that job, you will need to drive budgeting decisions. (By the way, the relationship between sales and finance, at least in the beginning, is absolutely critical—and far more important, at least in the beginning, than the relationship between, say, sales and marketing.)

What we have just outlined is, we realize, an untraditional model, one that upsets some people’s assumptions—maybe yours. But it’s the only model that actually delivers aggressive growth.

Remember: Making all of this happen means launching an organizational revolution. You will need the support of the CEO, founder, or president of your company if this revolution is to succeed.  Here’s the essence of what you need to say to them, in your own words:

“What really happens when sales is at the back end of the organizational chart? What are the real-world implications of that choice? Here’s the answer. Someone else decides on the product, the marketing, the number that need to be sold, and the compensation program—and then the sales team is informed that it needs to step up and sell it. This is a hit-or-miss proposition at best, and often the result is ‘miss.’ Why? Because sometimes the sales team—the team that is by definition closest to the customer base—is introduced into the game too late to make a difference.”

We are suggesting a radically different plan of attack, a model in which the executive committee—typically the CEO/founder and the lead finance person—sets the strategic direction of the company in collaboration with you, the sales leader. You share that strategic direction with your team, which you are personally responsible for recruiting, retaining, and growing, and then you lead that team in creating the action plan. You work with them to get absolute clarity on who they need to target, what territories they will focus on, what resources are needed to succeed, and how you can best support them. Then the rest of the organization can follow your lead and support the sales team as it succeeds—and expands. This is what rapid growth looks like. And a truly scalable sales team is what makes that growth possible.

For more on building and supporting the scalable sales team, see our book The Success Cadence.



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