This week the OpenView team hosted all VPs of Sales and CEOs from the portfolio for a Sales Execution Workshop led by Rich Chiarello of Above the Line Consulting. Rich covered a variety of topics including systematic hiring, prospecting systems, building a behavioral cookbook, improving forecasting accuracy, goal planning, time management, value proposition clarification, and sales data capture. Senior Managing Director Scott Maxwell kicked off the event asking the attendees to “walk away from the workshop with just one thing to commit to and implement within your business.”
So how did we determine what exactly we wanted Rich to cover in the workshop?
To ensure that we would hit the mark with the agenda and keep the crowd super-engaged, we polled the attendees weeks prior to the event, asking “Of this list of 20 topics that we could cover, which do you think would be most helpful to your expansion stage sales organization?” The group was asked to rate the proposed topics on a scale of 1-10 — 10 being “we’ve got this down pat” and 1 being “we are horrible at this.” Ultimately the 8 sessions in the agenda were the topics that the VPs and CEOs agreed that they could use some guidance on.
Last January, OpenView hosted its first sales execution workshop (although we have had other sales-focused forums in the past) — the major emphasis of that event was perfecting your value proposition. Sounds pretty simple right? Not quite. It was shocking to learn that members of a portfolio company’s management team all had different ideas of what their business’s value proposition was. This year, many discussions gravitated toward the concept of having more of a vertical focus than a horizontal focus in your prospecting and marketing efforts… i.e. is your sales team going after a specific industry and buyer persona within that industry, or are you blanketing all markets and trying to be everything to everyone? For expansion stage businesses, the move from horizontal to vertical can be very painful — but in order to scale, it needs to be done.
Feedback from the portfolio regarding the workshop was extremely positive — not only did Rich’s presentation really hit home with the crowd, the attendees were also able to share best practices with one another. At the end of the day, every senior manager in our portfolio is trying to scale his/her business, and it’s a beautiful thing to be able to share and gather ideas from a group of people who are experiencing similar growth, and challenges that come from that growth.