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Habits of Hyper-Growth Sales #10: Defend Your Ownership

(this post originally appeared on LinkedIn here)

In every larger organization people fight for influence. This is totally healthy as long as the best interest of the organization is what everybody is focused on.

Accounts attract attention internally for their already established revenue size, their growth, and/or the special relationship with the customer. So the more successful an account team is the more attention they will receive from their management and peers.

The problem starts when these regard their own agenda or their department’s as important enough to claim a say in the account.

In my earlier posts I described how the leadership principle of ownership of outcomes provides the fuel for hyper-growth. It focuses every team member on delivering value to the customer, earning their trust, and building flywheels that generate exponential growth over an extended period.

People outside the team carry ownership for their own outcomes. These might coalesce with the account team’s outcomes and then the relationship will be a win-win, but they can also conflict. And then the relationship will be a lose-lose.

So, how to manage this conflict?

First, the account team must define the outcome they are aiming for in a multi-year account plan describing how the customer makes buying decisions, how we gain influence on these, and the sales campaigns to deliver hyper-growth.

Ideally we want to proactively involve e.g., marketing, product management, business development, already in defining these campaigns. But we also need a process for responding reactively to asks to approach our customer.

What works:

Ask your peers to read the account plan and present their idea for a sales campaign, what the value proposition looks like, whom to address with it, how to deliver it, and its associated risks.

If the result is a good fit with your multi-year plan, proceed to execution. If not, push back on the idea and list all the points it is missing.

What doesn’t work:

Pushing back on the ask without providing a justification. Everybody needs to produce outcomes and so do your peers. You owe them an explanation even if it means spending your precious time on something you don’t plan to do.

Avoiding the conflict without doing anything. The ask will not go away, sooner or later you will be confronted with demonstrating progress. Your peers will believe you took ownership and report it to their own management. When your lack of engagement becomes obvious you’ll face an escalation.

Worst of all: Stepping aside and letting your peers walk into the account without your support. The result will not only be resources wasted on non-existing opportunities, but also a confused customer, opportunities for your competition to claim victory, partners losing trust.

For sustained hyper-growth the account team’s ownership of the customer outcome is non-negotiable.

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