Archive for August, 2008

That is the question. Is it Commit? Or is it Best Case? If it is Commit, why? If your Commit is light, please explain. If a Commit move back to Best Case, not good. If a Commit moves to Closed, take a bow.

Though most of you have no idea what I am talking about, many know exactly what I mean. In fact, this subset has probably woken up at night in a cold sweat after hearing these questions in their sleep.  They are Zayo’s account executives (“AEs”).

I learned this brand of sales management methodology from a former colleague of mine, Neil Hobbs of Level 3 Communications. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, I have come to appreciate the incredible value of this methodology. The approach centers on the following concept: an effective AE should be able to identify those orders that he or she expects to close during a given month. ”Commit” means that the AE expects a certain order to be signed prior to the end of the month. If all their Commits are summed, it indicates the total amount of sales the AE anticipates will be booked.

The methodology, when properly implemented, requires that the AE puts a stake in the ground early in the month. That is, the salesperson is expected to foreshadow how much they will bring it during the month, even though early in the month they are dealing with a lot of unknowns. Showing little or nothing in Commit will trigger questions about why the person is anticipating bad month. On the flip side, once an item is identified as Commit, the AE has to be ready to justify why.

Confident and capable account executives appreciate this process. First, it allows them to demonstrate the command and control they have of their patch. They can show you the deals that are out there and can display they know what it takes to get them to the finish line. They get the attention they crave. Second, management can focus on helping AEs get the most-likely contracts to closure. As it becomes more clear what is holding a deal up, management rallies other organizations–marketing, engineering, finance, or operations–to help remove the roadblocks. The good AEs are able to use this to their advantage, ensuring the rest of the organization rallies around them. Orders get signed. Commission checks are beefy.

Conversely, poor AEs don’t like this methodology. If they don’t have a robust funnel, or if they don’t have command and control of their opportunities, they will be exposed.  If their Commit is light, they will need to explain the dearth of high probability deals.   Yet if Commit is populated with a weak deals, credibility is lost when the AE is asked to explain the deals.

I cannot over-emphasize the importance of a well-defined and vigorously implemented salesforce methodology.