What can I learn by working in a B2B sales organization? #Q&A

What can I learn by working in a B2B sales organization? #Q&A

By Zeeva Viola | May 23, 2017

Question:

What can I learn by working in a B2B sales organization? I am not involved in selling and have no plans of doing so. I do more of the analysis and reporting.

Answer:

Examine how the company weights it’s focus, and how that affects the company culture.

You’ve characterized the company as a B2B sales organization. Observe if the company is a:

  1. Sales organization
  2. Product organization
  3. Engineering organization
  4. Organization organization
  5. Some other type…

A sales organization focuses on moving whatever product or services are available. This can lead to under-investment in new or existing products, with the management assuming that a good sales organization can sell themselves out of a competitive disadvantage. This culture can be useful when the company has little cash to invest in new products, and can be deadly if the company under invests in keeping up with evolving customer needs.

Within the sales organization, learn about how territories are divided:

  • Are they by geography?
  • Customer type?
  • Product?
  • Deal size?
  • Lead source?
  • Free for all?

A product organization focuses on creating new products from the existing asset base. For example, a data company might be sitting on terabytes of data and give their product managers free rein to develop whatever products they can from those assets, then expect the sales team to sell these products, or use the sales team as a way to vet winners and losers on the product front. This gives the sales team more in their bag to sell, and also leads to a divergence of focus within the company. It can be difficult to sunset failing or evenly moderately profitable products, leaving the sales organization stuck selling and supporting too many products for them to understand all of their applications to specific customer needs.

  • How is credit issued within the company?
  • Do salespeople take all the accolades for closing deals, or do product managers get the credit for analyzing the market properly?
  • What’s the interaction between sales & product development? Does the product team take their queues from sales, or vice versa.

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An engineering organization focuses on the underlying construction and architecture of its assets, providing product managers with immense power to produce killer applications. Because engineering investments are expensive – time, people, and technology – the company is betting that a flexible engineering base enables the product and sales team to meet customer needs.

Learn about how engineering supports the sales team:

  • Is there are direct line from the sale team to the engineering team?
  • Are there sales engineers at all?
  • What’s the culture and interaction like between sales and engineering?

An organization organization focuses on the infrastructure of its company and teams – it’s a focus on people. On the sales front, this means a focus on building a sound sales process from marketing through sales to implementation, customer success, and retention. With a focus on the organization, the company enables itself to change out parts of the system (i.e. people).

Learn about how the company approaches sales and the sales process:

  • Do they hire a bunch of experienced rock star salespeople and tell them – “Close deals however you close deals…”
  • Or do they hire salespeople that plug into a sales process that the company knows works for their products in their industries.

These are just  four organization types that come to mind. Take the time to interview executives and colleagues across the board to discover how each person thinks about the company, and develop your own analysis. Share your analysis with others. Generate conversation. You’re in the analytics team – be analytical.

**This Q&A article was originally posted on Quora. Check out Scott’s Quora page here.