As your B2B organization builds out its capabilities organically or through acquisition, you are excited to gain deeper account penetration and go after bigger sales. You and your colleagues envision the enterprise sale, the complex sale, the cross-discipline or cross-divisional sale, the cross-sell — deals that include multiple capabilities and produce significant revenue for your company. Not only would this enable you to make big leaps to hitting your number and making Chairman’s Club this year, but would position you well with senior leadership, who have seeking examples that their expansion strategy is working.
But what if your customers’ problems were so complex that they didn’t fit into the tidy siloes your company has built to organize its business and capabilities? And what if the divisions between those siloes were like canyons that were rarely, if ever, crossed? That would make the enterprise sale an elusive mirage. (See my post on becoming a Canyon Crosser: https://drivesalesconsulting.com/become-a-canyon-crosser-in-2017/.)
So how do you bridge those canyons and align with complex customer issues? One way is by forging the kind of teamwork addressed by Heidi Gardner in her new book, Smart Collaboration. Gardner is ex-McKinsey, teaches at Harvard Business School and Harvard Law School, and focuses her research on professional services firms. Like any B2B organization, knowledge-based firms tend to organize their businesses in silos. And these silos can be limiting for clients and the experts who serve them. The principles she discusses in Smart Collaboration go beyond those you might know from her Harvard Business Review articles. This book is applicable to anyone involved in significant B2B transactions where the buyer(s) is facing an important and complex decision, where the product/service can be shaped to that decision, and where the construction, description and delivery of that product/service requires collaboration across organizational siloes.
This book enables groups of professionals to work together more effectively, not as an end goal, but to produce better client outcomes and better business results for your own organization. In real life, if your organization is being considered for the important role of helping a client navigate complex problems this assumes you have the smarts and the qualifications. Winning requires more. How well do you understand the issues my organization is wrestling with? How well are you able to cross your company’s canyons, engaging the right colleagues and partners, to help devise a solution that addresses my complete issue set? When you meet with us, how effectively do you and your partners demonstrate the sort of teamwork that crosses canyons and will be essential in implementing this solution successfully?
I highly recommend Smart Collaboration for leaders and client-facing professionals in large-scale B2B interactions. This book is well organized, very readable and practical. Dr. Gardner does a great job incorporating the voice of the client, and bringing in real examples from her research about what experts believe, do and think. She also includes several chapters that appeal to different audiences within the professional services firm. So regardless of your level, there are valuable comments in here for you. Gardner has a talent for making heavy content approachable for any reader. And the tips she offers are grounded in research and can be immediately put to work. You’ll enjoy reading it and, if you’re ready, begin gaining an ROI from applying the principles — more enriching relationships with clients, colleagues and co-selling partners; and work that is more valuable to clients, and more rewarding to your organization and to you professionally.