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    Hedgehog Your Sales Organization

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    Years ago, while I was working for a company in the sales trenches, a fellow salesperson was always struggling to make his number. He would fight and claw to get approval on small opportunities that were not really in our sweet spot.

    He would go to the mat to get a discount for a prospect that wasn’t quite right for our business – happy to negotiate internally with our boss to get the client a better deal rather than stand his ground and get them to pay what our services were worth.

    Two Factors and a Need

    I didn’t realize it at the time, but upon reflection there were two major factors, made worse by a significant need, that caused my co-worker’s struggles.

    The two forces at work:

    1. This salesperson struggled with some missing Sales DNA
      It manifested itself in a couple different ways. He had a “Need for Approval” from his prospects and customers. And he probably was afflicted with a touch of personal “Negative Purchasing Habits” (where he felt he needed to get the best deal for himself and assumed that it is how others bought as well).

      I am certain he struggled with these issues since I now know that 58% of salespeople need to be liked more than they need to close the business, and 72% of salespeople have personal purchasing habits that sabotage their sales success.
    2. He was without a Hedgehog
      What do I mean? Well, in Jim Collins best-selling book, “Good to Great,” he discusses the concept. It’s based on a saying in an ancient Greek fable, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Collins writes that a company should have a Hedgehog, a focused set of products or services that it can strive to be the best at, since no company can be the best at all things.

      The most successful companies (the “great companies” in the book) have this Hedgehog. They make marketing decisions based upon it. They decide to pursue business or reject business based upon it. In short, they strive to OWN the Hedgehog in their market.

      Salespeople would be wise to establish and focus on a Hedgehog in their business too. But leaders must help them to articulate it, drive it home and consistently (not sometimes) keep the focus on the core business. Be true to the Hedgehog and give your salespeople the lanes to play in by articulating the differentiators that make your company great based on what your clients get from your products and services.

    Why My Co-Worker Struggled

    A lack of Sales DNA and the missing Hedgehog were the forces that propelled my co-worker to fight to discount every deal and argue to do business outside our core focus.

    Help salespeople by articulating the differentiators that make your company great.

    But the real, underlying reason why these two forces were in play was because his behavior was not managed. He had an empty pipeline with inadequate prospects for the future. Thus, he had stress, fear and anxiety. So, he was desperate for every deal. He resorted to what my friend Casey Brown, president of Boost Pricing calls “fear-based discounting.”

    The Remedy

    To fix this all, focus on behaviors, ones that fill the pipeline and ones that improve the conversation during the call. Reduce the emphasis purely on results and help change the actions of salespeople who have a tendency to fight for every deal, and for discounts on behalf of the client. Since their pipeline will now be full, there is no desperation associated with any one sales opportunity.

    Finally, coach salespeople to improve their Sales DNA while being very clear and precise about your company’s Hedgehog. That means making sure the entire team knows what your company does better than others. Then have everyone drive a truck through it.

    Article originally published on Nov 5, 2020 on Braveheart's blog
    Gretchen Gordon
    Published December 6, 2020
    By Gretchen Gordon

    Gretchen Gordon is the founder of Braveheart Sales Performance, a consulting firm specializing in sales team transformation. A self-proclaimed “Sales Nerd” with over 27 years of sales, sales leadership and sales team transformation experience, she spends most of her time working directly with client companies and helping them improve their sales effectiveness and exceed their sales goals. Gretchen is also a frequent guest speaker for industry events and webcasts, and has been featured on the radio talk shows “Meet the Sales Experts” and "Sales Coaching over Coffee." She is also an accomplished writer, having been featured on industry-leading sites like SellingPower.com and SecurityInfoWatch.com. She authors a “Top 50 Sales Management Blog,” according to Docurated.com, and has published sales-focused eBooks, including “The 5 Essentials of Effective Sales Management” and “Cold Calling in the 21st Century.”

    Find out more about Gretchen Gordon on LinkedIn