Are You the CEO of Your Territory?

3 min read • Mar 12, 2013 • Guest Post
Patrick Morin is a partner with The Cross Partnership, a global consultancy that is engaged by private equity groups, boards of directors, and CEOs to improve the performance of their invested companies. The Cross Partnership works with select start-ups, growth companies, and turnarounds to stabilize operations and ramp up revenue and employee performance.
Dick Cross and I hung up the phone after a riveting 15-minute conversation covering varied topics from corporate turnarounds to creating high performance teams.  We had connected earlier in the week when he had been the keynote speaker at a meeting of Virginia CEOs.

Based on the audience’s enthusiastic applause, he had done pretty well. Over the course of the hour he posed and answered, a question that was on everyone’s mind but rarely asked: “In our $15 trillion U.S. economy that sees the birth and demise of thousands of companies each year, how do I run one that makes it?”Curiously, the EXACT same question is often tossed around the minds of sales people and their leadersabout their territories and even their careers:  “How do I run a territory that outproduces everyone else’s?”In his book, “Just Run It,” he outlines a “tri-focal” lens for CEOs of Vision, Strategy and Execution. (I smiled when I read it, because it echoed a keynote that I had given a week earlier that used the terms “Think Bigger, Think Differently, Think ‘Action’.”)

Here are quick definitions:

Vision is that bigger picture of the future combined with core values and a statement of purpose.  It is the ideal enterprise or situation that we are trying to create.

Strategy is the choice of gears that we use in our business engine and how they fit together — that is, how we get from A to B.  It is the four or five key objectives that we must hit – the things that make us more than competitive – they make us distinctive.

Execution combines the operations plan and the budget — WHAT we’ll do every day, and the funds expected and expended.  It’s how we spend our time and resources.

Clearly, this doesn’t apply only to CEOs.

Stephanie B is a top-tier medical sales rep and, frankly, one of the best I’ve ever seen. Someone having a clearer vision of a territory is hard to imagine. She defined sales-oriented values that were in concert with the company and even went beyond in some areas.

Stephanie determined what expectations her customers would experience in their interactions with her and set the bar high – her vision. The support team assigned to her immediately bought in to her philosophy and purpose and, collectively, they produce more than any other team.  As a result of following her lead, they also make more money than any other support team.

In terms of strategy, her battle plan was just as clear as her “operating values.” Before making dial No. 1, she knew how many practices were in her territory, their probability of buying, what products would be best received, to which medical centers they were tied and their operational cadence.

She relentlessly researched which days they were busiest/slowest/most in need/on vacation, etc. Her time was optimized because she had weekly, monthly and annual strategies that were in line with her vision and made execution easier.   As a result, her customers perceived her as an asset, always took her calls, and bought frequently and from no one else.  She formed her sales strategy around the way her customers operated.

The third lens of Stephanie’s sales trifocal is execution. She has an operational plan for cold calling, sales calls, follow-up, in-services, field visits and button-up calls that is staggeringly detailed. Her notes in the CRM are impeccable and current, because she has proven to herself that knowledge of her customer makes her more valuable to them.

Because she performs to her daily plan and because she knows her budget so well, she can predict her own commission check in the first week of the month with jarring accuracy. When something errs, she normally has a contingency plan.

Is it any surprise that her territory is so successful? That people want to know her “secret?” That she is honored by compatriots and competitors alike? She approaches her territory as a CEO does a company: with vision, strategy and execution.

She just runs it.


Guest Post