Leadership Series: In the upcoming series of blogs we will share what we have learned in our work with senior sales leaders. Our intent is to present ideas in brief Checklist fashion. We welcome feedback if you have thoughts or contributions, and hope you find this series to be useful and thought-provoking.
With this post, we continue with five more ideas to consider as you seek to drive growth with your team. Here are five additional practices we believe are essential. These practices complement the first five, outlining the strategies we have found sales leaders use in order to create lift with their sales teams.
1. Sales Management Practices – The Sales Manager is THE most important player in a sales organization, but most companies don’t provide guidance on what ‘good’ is – other than revenue production. Top performing sales executives explicitly define the practices they expect of their managers. They define standards for their roles as leaders, recruiters, business managers, coaches and trainers, rather than glorified salespeople. And most importantly, they choose sales managers not on their selling skills but on their desire to lead, teach and coach.
2. Skills Mastery – How serious are you about developing SKILL or do you just do it once a year during a national or regional sales meeting? Be aggressive in developing and training your sales force. The quality of your front-line professionals drives your business. Asking an outside speaker to come in every year to do a seminar doesn’t cut it, and “letting them figure it out on their own” leaves too much to chance. The cost of turnover is prohibitive. Explicitly define the competencies required to win. Assess your team and all future hires against those competencies and invest seriously in sales force development.
3. Forecasting – Establish a monthly forecasting system that looks at the pipeline formally, and is a key element of the formal coaching conversation. Ensure your forecasting method communicates where each opportunity is in the sales process. Pipeline management reminds the salesperson of the need to think like a business person, making deliberate choices on where to invest time to move opportunities forward.
4. Build a Bench – Actively recruit. Being reactive about finding talent hinders your growth. Seasoned executives affirm they are more constrained by the caliber and action-orientation of their people than they are by capital. Reducing the effect of turnover is essential to sustain double-digit growth.
5. Customer Focus – Finally, ensure that the voice of the customer permeates everything you do. Conduct Customer Value Analysis annually to determine what customers most value about you. Make listening to the customer, really listening, a core practice. Everyone in the organization needs to talk about and connect with the customer.