The Axioms of Selling Blog

Andy Smith, SVP Sales & Marketing

Andy Smith, SVP Sales & Marketing
For 24 years, Andy Smith has been helping some of the world’s leading sales organizations, including Honeywell, MasterCard, ExxonMobil, Microsoft, and others increase their effectiveness through improved sales process execution, better sales coaching, consultative sales skill development, and higher CRM adoption. Andy holds a degree from Baylor University and prior to joining AXIOM he served in senior sales leadership roles for Sales Performance International, AchieveGlobal, and Acclivus Corporation. He started his career in sales with Xerox before joining ExxonMobil where he discovered his passion for the sales performance improvement profession. Andy lives in Denton, Texas. Ask Andy about his very average golf game, radio broadcasting of high school sports, or his three adorable grand babies.
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Most sales organizations function in the same basic way. Sales quotas are set, results are evaluated at the end of a predesignated period, and coaching occurs primarily at the remedial level only after failure has already occurred. Even if we assume that most salespeople are meeting their quotas under this system, there’s still a plurality who aren’t.
 
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Years ago when I was carrying a bag for a major industrial company covering a territory in South Florida, I recall a “coaching” conversation I had with my district manager.  I was new to my territory, and slightly behind plan heading into the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t for lack of effort.  I was hitting all my targets for number of sales calls and new opportunities I added to the funnel, but I was still behind my goal.

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Customer experience is an incredibly hot topic now, driven largely by companies like Amazon who are relentlessly focused on providing customers with a great experience throughout the buyer’s journey. For companies with a sales team, this growing emphasis should be considered in the context of your sales interactions.

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Suppose you came into work bright and early on a Monday morning, just four days before the end of the quarter. You glided to your desk with that quiet confidence of a sales leader who was going to blow away their quarterly target. As usual, one of your first tasks is to fire up your CRM and check the status of your team’s sales pipeline and forecast. To your shock, you see 1/4 of the deals your team forecasted to close this quarter have pushed to the next quarter. Now what?

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I’ve spent over two decades consulting with some of the world’s leading sales organizations on their sales process. From this work, I have found three very common sales process problems each of which lead to unpredictable sales pipelines:

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