That was a question we were asking ourselves five years ago at an offsite leadership meeting where a team building exercise placed us in a remote pasture, with an injured colleague, a river, a steep hill, a dense wood and multiple ungated fences between us and safety. We had some poles; rope and a piece of canvas to help us get our whole team to safety and the barriers were not real but part of an obstacle course.
After building our sled, which looked like a casual breeze could tear it apart, we needed to select a volunteer to sit on it and get dragged around the course – which quite naturally no one fancied doing. “As Head of Sales,” I said, “I am a revenue-generator, so I am too valuable to risk injury on the stretcher.” My colleagues nodded in general agreement and I breathed a sigh of relief, as I knew no broken bones or bruises would be coming my way, but no one volunteered, so I spoke up again. “I propose that John rides on the stretcher as he is really an expense to the company as CIO’s don’t generate revenue.” And, much to John’s dismay, everyone again agreed, and he was forced to ride the sled and risk bodily injury. Two good things came out of this exercise. John made it through unscathed and we both decided to work on how he, as CIO, could better partner with Sales - so we looked upon his organization as enablers of revenue and not as an expense.
Our sales people and leaders now look at the CRM as a benefit and not a dreaded task and this was all made possible by a strong partnership between Sales and our CIO/CTO
Five years on, I look back on that day with tremendous fondness and often reflect on three (of many) formative teamwork successes that arose from our decision – hinged around greater cooperation and differentiated which has enabled us to have sustained success, increase our market share, and exceed our sales targets.Firstly, our new Chief Information Security Officer reached out to show me some of the latest cyber security technology that our company has implemented, illustrating how it can scan the dark web and look for user IDs and passwords that matched those being used to login to our own systems, and then proactively notify them that their passwords should be changed due to a potential compromise. His reason for showing me this was because he thought it might be a differentiator that my team could use in our sales pitches. It is and we are. Secondly, we were presenting to a Fortune 100 client looking to extend their contract with us. Their IT department protocols declined third-party app downloads, which hampered our approach as we can use our app to drive higher customer engagement, increase compliance and enable greater savings. So, we introduced one of our IT team leaders, whose analysis showed that 6,000 of their employees had already downloaded and were using our app without us even communicating or marketing it. She explained our security protocols, contingency measures, and our secure data storage approach and helped us secure a three-year contract extension – and permission for their employees to use our app. And, thirdly, we collectively review all sales enablement technology which speeds up adoption, integration and has enabled us to have a 99 percent + data quality score with our CRM globally. It’s the lifeblood of my sales organization; it enables accurate forecasting and helps us manage our overall prospect and customer lifecycle. Our sales people and leaders now look at the CRM as a benefit and not a dreaded task and this was all made possible by a strong partnership between Sales and our CIO/CTO. I challenge any of the CIO’s who read this article to setup a meeting with your Head of Sales and see how you can better partner together to not only please your CEO and CFO, but to ensure you are not the person on the sled at your next team building.