Sales Process Got Me to the Olympics

The Olympics recently ended and as I watched the closing ceremony, I couldn?t help but reminisce about sitting at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona one warm summer evening 20 years ago witnessing first-hand the magic of the closing ceremony of the ?92 Olympics. What an experience – went to 16 events. Saw, with all due respect to Kobe, KD, and Lebron, THE Dream Play a couple of times. The Barcelona Olympics will be etched in my memory for the rest of my life and I have sales process to thank for making it possible for me to have had front row seats. Let me explain.

I started my career at Xerox and one of the adages that was mind melded into our collective conscience as salespeople and sales managers was that ?Failing to plan was planning to fail?. Xerox pioneered the first SaaS (Selling-as-a-Sicence) movement by applying the principles of Total Quality Management (TQM), the forerunner to Six Sigma, to selling and sales management. It was also the birthplace of SPIN, the first research-based selling methodology, which I had the privilege of being one of the sales trainers and later sales managers to roll this model out to our field sales organization. Process was the law of the land. It was mandated that in order to hit our numbers, we needed to be meticulous and methodical in how we managed our teams, territories, accounts, opportunities, sales calls, schedules, and forecast meeting preparation.

Process works. At the time, it was all we had. Our competition was selling state-of-the-art technology at a fraction of what we were charging. We beat the odds because we out-executed and out-managed our competition in the trenches. As front-line managers, we were given clear playbooks on how to manage every aspect of selling and running a sales team. Very little was left to chance.

Process excellence knows no borders. I had the good fortune to be part of the sales management team that helped launch Symantec in Europe. Our global executive sales leadership were former Xeroids who understood the power and leverage of process and demanded that the field management team live and breathe process in terms of how we went to market; selected our partners; approached and managed our accounts and opportunities; and conducted deal, pipeline, forecast and territory reviews.

Their philosophy was ?Failing to plan was planning to lose your job?. Since I rather enjoyed living in Barcelona, I followed their orders to a tee. Glad I did. In less than a couple of years, we went from a foreign startup no one in the region had heard of to the industry leader, leapfrogging our key competitor, McAfee, who had entered the market long before we had. We not only became the leader in the burgeoning security space, we became the third largest software vendor in the geography, behind only Microsoft and Adobe. Got to keep my job and front row seats at the Olympics.

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