I consider myself to be extremely fortunate in my role. I have the privilege to spend a lot of time with highly innovative sales organisations that are pushing the boundaries of the sales discipline.

I recently came across a fresh sales management approach that I thought our CloudApps community might benefit from.

david_kirkA blog post by Dr David Kirk, CRO, CloudApps

On the face of it, you would like to think that the goal of sales management and the goal of the reps that work for them are well aligned. And they usually are. The sales rep has a revenue target they need to hit. The sales manager has an aggregate revenue target they need to hit that usually reflects the number of reps in their team. Nothing troublesome there.

The challenge comes when you start to get under the skin of the behaviours that each group exhibits. Sales reps tend to be extremely near-term focused. Anything that falls outside the scope of the current quarter tends to evade their attention. Anything that falls outside of the current fiscal year stands no chance of even getting on their radar.

Sales managers tend to be a little more pragmatic than this. They will have a keen eye on making sure each and every quarter is a success. They will also understand the benefits of building a healthy pipeline for the longer-term. By taking this longer-term view, they realise that the effort required to hit each quarter can be significantly reduced. And this is where ‘Landscaping’ comes in.

Let me paint a simple picture of the behaviours involved.


Sales Behaviour:

Our hungry sales rep works through the list of accounts that make up their territory, busily scouring for potential business. They research the next interesting looking prospect only to realise that this organisation already has a contract in place covering the next 12 months.

There is no opportunity here for the current fiscal. So, our eager sales rep wastes no more time on this one and rapidly moves on. No more thought required. Especially given the rep may not even be working the same territory (or worse, still be in the business) when that contract is up for renewal!


Sales Management Behaviour:

However, our sales manager has a very different picture. From the historical sales data, they know it typically takes 6 months to either win back or secure a renewal of that contract. So, in reality this means the sales campaign needs to start within the current fiscal year, even if the deal will most likely happen during the next one.

Our sales manager knows that if a future-dated opportunity is not created immediately in the system, the sales campaign will not be initiated in a timely fashion. And the prospect will be lost again for another 12 months.

It’s easy to see how this behaviour helps the sales manager to build a future-dated pipeline. It has less immediately obvious benefit for the rep.

As a result, this behaviour is intuitive to the sales manager, not so much for the rep. It is often referred to as ‘Landscaping’. Essentially it boils down to the feet on the street (i.e. the reps) needing to record deals that fall outside of their annual period for the benefit of the company.

I have written a lot about the changing face of sales management. The new breed of sales manager is both tech and data savvy. They behave more like an elite sports coach as they continually analyse the performance of their team.

This new breed of manager drives their team using leading KPIs. These are the forward-facing and measurable behaviours that drive towards the final outcome of a closed deal.

They rally their team behind these sales metrics in order to create a sustained increase in sales performance right across the team.

I am increasingly seeing ‘landscaping’ appear as one of these leading KPIs in the overall mix of metrics that each rep is being driven to achieve. It’s an interesting one, even though reps realise it may have no impact on their revenue target for the current year, they will still chase the metric down. It may after all be of benefit to them in the coming year.

It’ a no brainer for sales managers. They are simply driving the behaviour that means they will never miss another potential pipeline filling opportunity. At the same time, it’s a healthy behavioural change for reps as it encourages them to have a longer-term view of pipeline building.

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How sure can you be that your reps are not rushing past future opportunity as they chase down current business?  The change in pipeline shape and health for companies that have adopted this approach is startling. If you would like to know more about the benefits of ‘landscaping’, feel free to contact me so we can discuss further.


Keen to learn more?

Why not read our guide to building a clean & healthy pipeline.


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