Effective communication is the heart and soul of any high performing team. This all begins with getting your points across and being receptive to hearing others point of view. In Aligning Customer Teams™, participants get actionable data and insights about their own communication and engagement style, learn how to plan for interactions with others who have different styles, and develop strategies for maximizing the flow of information throughout the team.
Through real-world practice and extensive feedback, participants in Aligning Customer Teams™ gain a “gut level” understanding of how to apply the skills, tools, and behaviors they learn during training to critical sales team interactions. They practice how to engage with one another, identify potential roadblocks to team effectiveness, and develop strategies for avoiding these, ensuring they and their team operate cohesively and satisfy customers expectations.
Aligning Customer Teams™ is more than just training. It provides participants with practical tools like the “Styles Meter” and “Team Action Planner” that can be used in real-time to help team members plan for and engage in more productive team interactions. When challenging team issues arise, they can use these tools to ensure they stay in the zone of “Creative Contention” allowing them to develop strategies for working through these issues and in turn, ensure that they and their team operate cohesively, and satisfy customers expectations.
As sales leaders move from having a team of generalists to one of “specialists”, each with their own unique set of skills, cross-functional sales team coordination has become even more critical. Information must flow between team members, coordinated planning needs to occur, and each team member must understand their roles and responsibilities and how these fit into the big picture.
This is certainly true for companies like Autodesk. Autodesk like many software and technology companies transitioned from the generalist model to one comprised of specialists—all with distinct roles in the sales process. Despite doing so, challenges still existed—people were still operating in silos, customer information remained compartmentalized, and individuals were focused on their own parochial interests. As one sales director put it, “I’ve got my own numbers to hit and it’s easier for me to just do it all myself”.
This mentality was particularly challenging due to the way that potential customers often evaluated Autodesk: an RFP. Responding to an RFP required coordination between multiple stakeholders in sales, marketing, product development, and engineering. That meant lots of back and forth, numerous meetings, and often times contention about who was responsible for what. The whole process could take multiple days and countless rounds of emails just to set up a meeting.
Recognizing that something had to change, Autodesk implemented Aligning Customer Teams™ across its sales and services organizations. The goal of this initiative was to improve the sharing of “tribal knowledge”, decrease the amount of time it took to respond to customer requests, support innovative solution generation, and gain better alignment on roles and responsibilities between sales team members.
The results? Eight months into the initiative, Autodesk’s’ VP of Global Sales and Customer Success put it best “We no longer have twenty chefs in the kitchen. We now have a highly integrated, cross-discipline team of sales and service professionals, each with a clear understanding of their roles and absolute certainty about how [and when] they must contribute to each sales opportunity. We work collaboratively, with [a] shared vision of what we want to accomplish, and we execute with a sense of urgency”.