The top line feeds everything else your organization does. If you need to grow your business, you need to grow the top line. If new revenue is not coming in consistently, sales leadership may be just getting lucky in good months rather than driving results with some key new revenue creation practices. Some of these include:
Sales VP on the Executive Team
The sales function generates critical information every day and can be your best data source for cash flow projection, new orders, client satisfaction and market intelligence. To do that, sales leadership must gather these critical details and deliver them, free of whitewash, to the executive team. That means a sales seat at a table that wants and appreciates each other’s unique perspectives. Make sure your sales leader is at the table, and occupies the seat completely.
Sales VP Compensation has Performance Criteria
Need growth? Compensate sales leadership for getting it – and getting it right. Not for just showing up. For example, if you want to wind down one product and increase another, adjust compensation for those products accordingly. Provide incentive for sales leadership to do the right thing by both the organization and the sales team. Bonus: You enhance a culture of accountability to organization results at the same time. The “too many factors out of sales leadership control” claim is only valid if #1 is missing.
Sales Reporting is Reliable
To succeed, sales people need to know what to do, how to do it, and why doing it that way is important. The Sales VP owns sales processes and resulting metrics – and should be able to tell you, “If we put X in at this point, we’ll get Y out at that point.” The results may not be accurate to three 9s, but they can create amazingly accurate plans for finance and operations. Sales processes are likely to fail when #1 and #2 are not in place.
Your Sales Team is Accountable
You can manage things like lead quality, sales cycles, even run rates. These are all functions of sound processes, consistently tweaked for improvement. No human is the same, so humans engaging with humans can’t be managed and tweaked as if they were numbers. An accountable sales team hits the numbers by following the process, knowing when to move from one step to the next, and correcting behaviors when they miss the mark. You can’t have an accountable sales team if #s 1, 2 or 3 are missing.
Misses Produce Change, Not Excuses
No blaming and no finger pointing. Successful sales leaders acknowledge a miss, figure out why you went off track, fix it, and move on. You guessed it: Sales VPs that have #s 1 through 4 in place usually have this one already figured out.
Not sure if your sales leader is driving your revenue vehicle or just along for the ride? Take my quick, free Sales Agility Assessment and see right away what your sales operation might be missing.
Photo Credit: FastCompany