One of the charter members of the Dealmaker Partner Network is Huthwaite Inc. Huthwaite is best known for the famous SPIN Selling program, used by millions of sales people around the globe. But there’s a lot more to Huthwaite than SPIN. Here, in this guest blog, John Golden, who became CEO of Huthwaite in late 2008, shares his perspective on Sales 2.0, and the evolution of the general sales environment. John explores the constant flux between sales professionals and their managers, the constant challenge of accurate sales forecasts, and the need for metrics-driven actionable data to ensure success.
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We are heading into a time where we will finally see the confluence of what have traditionally been perceived as two almost contrary demands; the sales person’s desire to focus 100% on selling and management’s need for data. Conventional wisdom has been that if a sales rep is producing then they should be allowed to operate in whatever way best suits them unencumbered by the data entry burdens that CRM systems have visited upon them over the past few decades. Meantime, management’s lack of accurate data can be offset by the knowledge that one way or another the revenue will miraculously appear and all will be good with the world.
This notion has been somewhat supported by the boom years when forecast inaccuracy was mitigated by abundant pipelines that could easily afford large scale fallout and still deliver significant revenue. During these years a large percentage of businesses paid lip service to forecast accuracy because of this abundance and the accelerated sales cycles that accompanied plentiful budgets.
In late 2008 and throughout 2009 many of these businesses have experienced the ugly reality of the consequences of forecast inaccuracy during a recession. Thin pipelines, combined with large scale fallout and elongated sales cycles have put enormous pressure on bottom lines. The necessary reaction to this has been to downsize and scale businesses to meet revenue shortfalls. The problem has been that as pipelines continued to deteriorate attempts to manage the cost side of the equation have been hampered by ongoing forecast inaccuracy. Granted some of it this is a product of the deepening recession but some of it is linked to the lack of attention that has been traditionally paid to forecast accuracy in general.
So what of 2010 and beyond? Can businesses afford to spend another year in firefighting mode desperately trying to size their business in reaction to pipeline fluctuations? At what point do leading indicators become critical to the health of a business? I would argue that time has come. Given that pipeline is the most important leading indicator of a business’s short-to-medium term health then it stands to reason that pipeline and forecast accuracy is the most critical part of business information flow.
Our research tells us that when managers focus on early stage opportunities with their sales reps the chances of successful outcomes and choosing the right opportunities to pursue increases significantly. However if a sales manager is constantly fighting the circular battle of trying to confirm the reality of late stage opportunities then they are perpetuating the very situation early stage focus would mitigate against.
This is why I believe that the time has come to end this battle and redefine the paradigm once and for all. Now is the time to bring it all together and by that I mean that the equation needs to become: Selling Skills + Actionable Data = Success. That is why we have taken the deliberate and necessary step of integrating our selling methodology, reinforcement components and selling tools into the Dealmaker platform. Our goal is to help organizations sell more effectively while simultaneously managing their businesses more effectively through a two-way proactive flow of data that supports rather than hinders the selling process. This will finally create the collaborative, symbiotic relationship between the seller, the coach/manager and the business we have all been striving for.
John Golden, CEO Huthwaite Inc., January 2010
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Do you agree with these views? We’d love to hear your thoughts.