Organization leadership should consider the sales organization as a partner in strategic data collection, with the organization leaders being the specific generators of strategic interest. This means that the Executive Council (all division or unit VPs and Sr. VPs), responsible for the operation of the organization should decide what they need to know from the customer base and the marketplace and then communicate those needs to the Sales team. Then, when a sales person is traveling to meet with customers, he or she will “look around” with the needs of the organization leaders in mind. The sales rep is now a partner with the organization leaders, gathering the specific information that leaders need to run their organizations and feeding it back into the organization through the sales meeting reporting system.
This teaming creates a tremendous learning environment for both the organization leaders and the sales team. The organization leaders have “eyes” out there in the marketplace, looking out for their needs, and the sales reps have “needs” in the organization that are asking for answers and information. Both are seeing, listening, learning, sharing, and collaborating. If the organization leaders communicate regularly with the sales team, and if the sales team members report accurate, complete, and current information immediately after the sales calls, we have a synergistic system of strategic knowledge sharing that has tremendous power to make an organization and individuals successful.
Thus, the Product Development VP might ask the sales team to look for customer or competitor product features that are positive or negative. This VP might ask the team to look around the property or ask around the offices about competitors and competitor programs, services, or products now being purchased. The Customer Service VP might ask the sales people to look specifically for any indications that current service is not serving the customers well, or to look for competitors who are serving the customers in new or improved ways, and then to report that information back to the VP through the sales reporting system. The Marketing VP might ask the sales team to promote a certain product or to sell according to a new promotion and then report back how the packaging, the names, the prices, and the products are received. The Finance VP might ask the sales reps to introduce a price increase or to change the pricing structure and to see how these changes are received. This VP might ask the sales team to inquire about competitors and if they are raising prices and by how much. All of this information is then reported back to the VP through the sales reporting system.
If the organization leaders “PULL” the information they need from their partners on the sales team, then give continuous and helpful feedback to the sales members when the information comes streaming back, then the sales people will feel a sense of belonging, a sense of importance and value, and a desire to work hard to meet the needs and expectations of their partners on the organization leadership team. Thus, the organization creates what is called a “double loop” feedback system, driven mostly by the organization leaders but maintained by continuous reporting and feedback among the leaders and the sales team members.