LEADERSHIP SERIES: Research suggests that Sales Leadership is the difference maker between good performance and superior performance. And how sales leaders embrace five essential roles is critical to the success of their teams. We hope you find this series of short informal discussions around sales leadership useful and thought-provoking.
Previously, we noted that in smaller organizations the CEO often continues to play the role of sales leader. It begs the question, when (and how) should that CEO delegate that role to a Vice President of Sales or similar position, (join that discussion here). Once that transition occurs, the nuances of the sales leader role also transform because the CEO is freed up to focus on a broader landscape of issues affecting the company, while the new sales leader reports to the CEO on the company’s success specifically in sales management.
Again, the hallmark of a high-performing sales team or individual, is the quality of sales management, or better said…sales leadership. Whether it be the coaching ability, management approach or communication style of the sales manager, the role of sales leader has a direct impact on overall sales performance, and as companies expand, so evolves the role of sales leader. Below we take a closer look at the second of five different positions (CEO, VP Sales, VP Sales Force Effectivness, VP Learning and Sales Manager) that link most concretely to sales excellence depending on the size of the company, and the warning signs to watch out for that may indicate a team is in trouble.
THE VP SALES’s ROLE IN BUILDING SALES EXCELLENCE
Like the CEO, a VP of Sales is responsible for establishing a vision for sales teams and driving growth year after year with a solid plan to execute that vision. Your team is always searching for opportunity. It is a perpetual challenge, and at times, it can be hugely frustrating. The challenges faced by a Sales VP will vary slightly from those of a CEO who is still the sales leader. As a VP Sales, if you find yourself speaking or thinking any of the following observations, you are not alone but it may be time for a hard look at your sales management system, and how you train your sales leaders:
- Our sales managers are all over the board – no consistency
- I have to do all the “leading” and I need to offload some of this responsibility to my sales managers, but currently, they are not leaders and are inconsistent
- We do very little planning and have no systematic approach
- My sales people don’t have enough business acumen
- The average sales manager struggles on how to help their people go after the large, complex accounts
- I need more planning and metrics with established targets- currently we don’t have this
- We set our goals at the beginning of the year but don’t have a good process in place to ensure high levels of accountability
- Our forecasting process is light and not very accurate. We need to have a process in place that will help drive behavior and focus on those opportunities where we have the best chance of winning
- We have poor morale – and I’m not sure how to turn it around
Emotions commonly felt by VP Sales when the team is struggling:
- Frustration: Same old problem – Fixes not working
- Fear: No Commission / Bonus
- Anxiety: CEO pressure – bad review
A Different Future…
What if you had a way to truly build a culture of Sales Excellence throughout your company?
What if your teams were more self-directed, in-tune to the marketplace and able to better cope with the challenges they face every day?
What if your sales managers were true leaders of their teams and catalysts for positive change?
All of these are possible when you build a culture of Sales Excellence throughout your organization. We have done it numerous times and the impact has been significant.
Begin by working to first establish a Sales Excellence Index that will provide you with the actionable intelligence to drive change. Then create a road map for your Sales Excellence Journey. That road map might begin with building Territory Growth Plans with your salespeople, or it might be redefining the roles of your sales leaders to help drive growth. Or your Sales Excellence Journey could start by helping them go after high-profile strategic accounts – that could significantly impact your bottom line.
Where to start will be driven by your priorities and where your team believes the greatest impact exists.
Let us know in the comments below how your organization addressed its growing pains and changing the role of sales leader away from the CEO or owner.