Here’s the scenario: The company is a B2B distributor of printing equipment and supplies. It was founded by a team of three people with a financial backer 14 years ago. In 2010, their 52 sales reps brought in just over $60 million in revenue. Annual sales growth has settled in right around 18%. They wouldn’t divulge their profits, but I did hear about one employee’s recent vacation on the rags-to-riches owner’s 74 foot yacht.
Let those facts sink in for a few minutes. B2B; distribution; commodity & close-to-commodity product set; solid, steady sales growth; lots-O-profit. When you walk around the sales office, you can literally feel the “What recession?” vibe. All of this however, is not the interesting part of the story. The title of the guy I met with is the best summary of the really cool part.
Vice President of Sales, Marketing and Information Technology.
Huh? I’ve met hundreds of Sales VPs. I’ve met hundreds of Marketing VPs. I’ve met hundreds of IT VPs. I had never met an all-in-one before. (Would he be a VP of SMIT???)
I thought I understood the e-Rep concept pretty darned well. This dude put me to shame. He not only understands the theory behind The 3 Facets Of e-Rep, he’s led the design, implementation and operation of by far the best I’ve ever seen. He is rightfully proud of how they’ve integrated their web site, social media tools, web analytics, CRM, ERP and telephone systems. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Frankly, I had never really even thought much about web analytics/CRM integration.
A non-disclosure agreement keeps me from sharing a whole lot of detail, but I can relate the three elements of their remarkably effective overall sales strategy:
- As much as possible, avoid hiring sales people, marketing people and IT people. Hire people with equal parts of all three disciplines – or who are willing to learn and fill in their personal knowledge gaps.
- Intelligently choose and tightly integrate a set of sales tools (In this case it’s a web site, blog, RSS, FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Microsoft Dynamcis CRM, Sales Fusion, a home-grown ERP and a robust telephone system)
- Maintain a sales culture that ardently embraces the disciplined, consistent use of all sales tools based on a formal, metrics-driven sales process.
Part of me wants to say this is a radical departure from the norm. I won’t though. The only thing radical about it is that this outfit has actually done it! Virtually every sales leader I bump into talks the talk. You’ve either heard it or said something like it yourself… “Members of our sales team are above average, appreciate and work closely with their marketing counterparts and are very astute with regard to leveraging technology to sell more faster.” I say, “Bull feathers!”
This is the first instance I have seen of a sales team truly walking the walk.
How close are you? How hard are you really trying?