Know Thy Offense..

A lot of VAR leaders I speak with admit that they don’t  have the caliber of sales force that they want.  Or even more common, 20% of their reps are generating 80% of their revenue. Let’s face it when it comes to selling virtualized architectures, communication enabled business processes, business continuity solutions, multi-media collaboration, and all of the other intricate solutions you offer — how many sales people can consistently navigate these complex scenarios?

Most partners are telling me sales professionals are becoming more scarce who can find a net/new opportunity, discover customer needs, develop a solution strategy, gain consensus and close the deal.  What I’d like to suggest is that perhaps the problem isn’t your sales people– perhaps you have unrealistic expectations of what your sales people should be doing to grow your business.

In 1971, Jack Lengyel accepted a job as head coach of the Marshall University’s decimated football team. The previous year, 75 players and coaches died in a tragic plane crash leaving the school with essentially no football program whatsoever. Coach Lengyel, against sharp criticism, recruited a rag-tag group of young players with little experience and managed to cobble together a team.

After a few practices, it became readily apparent to Coach Lengyel that he wouldn’t be able to employ his beloved Power-I offense he had used with great success when he coached at Wooster. Despite all of the success he had in the past with this offense, he took a realistic assessment of what his offense was capable of. He realized, his players just didn’t have the athleticism or experience to run the Power-I.

Lengyel realized if he was going to field a viable team,  he had to simplify his playbook — dramatically.  That’s when he decided to adopt  “The Veer” offense.  The Veer allowed his under-sized players to employ double teams and angles to block defenders. You see, the Veer is a triple option offense that allows the Quarterback to make a last minute read on the defense to select one of three actions. The simplicity is derived from the fact that everyone on the offense does the same thing on every play allowing them to focus on precision and execution.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know that the Thundering Heard won their first home game of the season against Xavier. Given the inexperience of their team, this was nothing short of a miracle.  My points in all of this are the following:

1. Partners that have a structured sales process always outperform competitors who do not.

2. You need to assess the skills of your sales people to develop a realistic sales process.

3. Once you have done this, where there are gaps — you need to provide expert resources as an overlay to your players.

4. Sales reps that consistently deliver precision move the ball forward with predictable results – this only comes from repetition.

So my challenge to you, the VAR, is to take an honest assessment of your sales team.  Do you have a consistent sales process and does it fit the abilities of your sales team?


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About Tom Walker

Tom Walker is Business Development Manager for Catalyst Telecom, a value added distributor for Avaya, Juniper, Extreme Networks, and many others. Tom works with Integrators and Resellers to help them grow their business by leveraging the most reliable, secure and standards based convergence technologies. For more information, visit

Posted on November 30, 2011, in Business Strategy, Operational Excellence. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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