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An Insider’s View: How CEB Creates Member Impact

26 January, 2016

Sadhna Gupta

Senior Analyst, CEB Legal MMKT / CEBer since 2013

“Don’t worry … even though we have someone from Legal in the room, we can still have an open conversation.”

This is how Scott Collins, principal executive advisor for CEB’s Sales Leadership Council for midsized companies, introduced me at a recent meeting titled “Taming Sales Complexity.” His comment received quite a few chuckles from the heads of sales seated around the room of this annual executive retreat (AER) held in Atlanta, Georgia in December 2015.

Thanks to a workplace contest, I had the privilege of traveling from Washington, DC to Atlanta to hear Scott deliver the CEB’s research about the importance of prescriptive selling in a highly complex sales environment. Interestingly, the research finds that the more overwhelmed a customer is during the sales process, the more likely he or she is to regret their purchase.

Scott Collins CEB

Sellers and Customers

It was impressive to see how, in just a couple of hours, Scott was able to effectively convince sales executives that their current approach isn’t working, prove the advantage of taking a more prescriptive sales posture, and provide members with tactical solutions. One of my favorite case studies included the idea of using a ‘prioritization assessment’ to diagnose where the customer is in the sales process, rather than just assume that they are ready to buy.

Not only did I learn a lot about seller and customer behavior, but I also had the opportunity to compare this meeting to those that I have attended in my own practice—Legal and Compliance. In fact, one of the main reasons I chose to attend a Sales Leadership Council meeting was to better understand the tension that sometimes exists within corporations and between two very different corporate functions like Legal and Sales.

Growth and Roadblocks

At the lunch break, I had a very interesting conversation with our members on how they interact with the Legal departments at their organizations. These sales executives explained how they have to try to avoid Legal at all costs, because involving Legal only slows things down. Sales sees itself as the engine supporting growth for the company and generating revenue, and Legal largely as a roadblock.

Back at CEB in conversations with my team’s Legal members, however, I regularly hear how general counsel are kept up at night with the worries of what might happen if a sales contract is not executed properly at their organization. Hearing these comments from of the other side of the table further confirmed to me why our clients, regardless of the function, really benefit from our research and the work we do.

Although these tensions may naturally exist between functions, CEB is uniquely leveraged to help executives think about how they can increase collaboration across the organization. This cross-functional perspective is truly one of the features of CEB’s research and insights that distinguishes us from others in the advisory and consulting space.

Research and Careers

I was so fortunate to have been given this opportunity! It was an incredible experience to attend this meeting, and see how our business model and best practices translate across functions. If you are interested in learning more about CEB’s sales research, please visit our Sales and Service blog. And, if you want to join a team that helps make other companies better at what they do, I encourage you to explore

About the author: Sadhna Gupta is a senior research analyst, CEBer since 2013, and a Duke University graduate.


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CEB InsightFest: What Happens When Great Minds Connect
Applying Academic Principles to Solve Applied Problems

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