The Classic GM's Dilemma: Aggressive Sales vs. Collaborative Selling?
Building sales collaboration in the entire organization
This solution was created by the Center's USA Workgroup 1 members: Kevin Hickman, Bryon Johnson, Bill Mitchell, Susan Dineen, Zach Blumenfeld, Brian Wagner.
Header: The Center’s Workgroups are small, tightly run and don’t spend time on governance. They solve serious management problems and put their solutions to use—and get recognized for their contribution. One tool is our 1-page Best Practice form; a sample is an Approved Resource at The GMs Index term 2.5 Sales management. Our Workgroups page has details and a list of other activities. Workgroups are members-only, but prospective members are welcome to try them. Contact. Join.
Story: One of this Workgroup's members is CEO of a small manufacturer. He told three stories about salespeople going onto the plant floor to disrupt jobs in process, interrupt customer service conversations, and not sharing customer requirements with the estimating team. The rest of the Workgroup also have salespeople closing big sales—but at low margins. But everyone recognized it wasn’t the sales department’s fault: it’s about the system they’d set up.
Problem: Margins, quality, timeliness and customer service suffer when the sales department isn’t managed collaboratively with operations, estimators, customer service and accounting. When the overall process breaks down (or isn’t defined), employees are demoralized and capacity is compromised, which can cost sales. Sales people then start to work independently, worsening these problems. Ultimately, the organization risks selling the wrong things.
Solution: See the Best Practice at The GMs Index term 2.5 Sales management. This complex management challenge is best handled in three big phases: clarify the ideal integrated sales process, improve communications by focusing on common reports, and then gradually adjust compensation system as needed.
Reflections: Departments often have their own perspectives and personalities, and they see even common information differently. Changing sales focus can create big risks, so managers much proceed carefully. Getting everyone excited about targeted sales wins is the key.
How to get started: From The GMs Index, review terms 3.2.1 Workflow analysis, 2.5 Sales management, and 2.5.4 Sales compensation. Create a simple flow chart for a large, targeted sale that includes every department’s work. Calculate the total costs for closing that sale.
Proof of success: The big metrics are targeted sales and margins at the targeted growth rate. Cost of sales is lower. Everyone sees and feels they are helping the customer and the organization succeed.
The Center for Management Terms & Practices is the standards body for general management. CEOs can delegate with confidence if managers in every department use the same best practices, language and tools. See The GMs Index and The GMs Toolkit.