Tackling the big questions: sales leaders meet for first network forum
In a new initiative, the Institute of Sales Professionals (ISP) has staged the first quarterly meeting of its Sales Leaders Network, bringing together leaders from partner businesses to discuss key issues affecting the sales profession.
Many thanks to Royal Mail for hosting at their training academy in their new Midlands super hub in Northamptonshire.
The theme for the day was leading sales in Vuca - volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous - times; and sales leaders considered a range of hot topics from resilience, motivation, and multi-generational workplaces, to empowering sales teams to lead.
Patrick Joiner, managing director of the ISP, welcomed participants to the session and said the event, on Tuesday 28 March, was part of the Institute’s strategy to build stronger engagement with members, reinforcing the value that the ISP brings to their professional lives and networks, and supporting sales organisations in challenging times.
Jon Nicholson, UK sales director of Royal Mail and Parcelforce shared his experiences leading a sales team of 400 while they navigated some of the turbulent waters all businesses have encountered in recent years.
Customers and sellers are changing, and increasingly buyers want good connections with educated, respected sellers who they can work with as trusted business partners. With that in mind, Jon stressed his team’s policy to put customers at the heart of what they do, working with them to get the best outcome for both buyer and seller.
During his talk, Jon highlighted a four-step process that he and his leadership team have adopted to tackle recent challenges.
1. One key thing: Identifying the activity that you do really well as the defining characteristic of your value proposition. For Royal Mail this is the belief that they look after their customers better than anyone else and this became a guiding principle that underpinned every subsequent decision in the process.
2. Testing resilience: This utilised a ten-part self-evaluation process, designed by academics at Cambridge University, for sales managers to assess their readiness to lead their teams through disruption while helping to identify any areas of potential vulnerability.
3. Motivational needs survey: With a sales force that encompasses four different generations, the Royal Mail sales leadership team identified that it was highly likely that there were a wide range of motivational needs across the organisation and that there was a high risk their perceptions were wrong. Royal Mail carried out a 30-question survey across the team which, despite not being anonymous, achieved a response rate of more than 80% and delivered more than 3,500 datapoints with real insight to guide their next steps.
4. Let the team lead the change. By empowering teams drawn from the sales force, Royal Mail has implemented change which has been led from within the team rather than imposed from the top.
Jon said, thanks to the process, there have been notable improvements in output, with performance above expectation in a number of key metrics.
The Sales Leaders Network is open to senior sales leaders from businesses that have corporate memberships with the ISP, as well as a small number of invited guests. These forums take place each quarter.
Click here to find out more about corporate membership of Institute of Sales Professionals.