To achieve long-term success and effectively navigate a dynamic sales landscape, sales leadership styles must pivot, depending on the current situation, the starting point, and the existing team charged to accomplish the goal. In part one of this blog series, we addressed best practices for sales leadership in a growth-focused environment. But what about when things fall apart? The events of the last decade or two have taught us that geopolitical or global economic events can create huge disturbances into small and medium sized businesses and cause the business to go into Sales Recovery Mode. During these times, the leaders of the business must create an all-hands-on-deck mentality to re-gaining revenue and sales momentum that has either evaporated or been lost.
Think back to the early stages of when you opened your business. Those first few sales years were likely filled with attracting clients whose primary qualification was being willing to say yes to your product or service and their ability to pay for your goods/services. It was simple and gritty, and your leadership style was to hustle and close as much business as possible. This is the same kind of effort required to recover lost revenue streams.
Being laser-focused on recovery becomes the all-consuming focus for sales leaders, and modifying behaviors and requirements to achieve recovery becomes the management style. Think of this as a strategic sprint where you apply this methodology and tactics to get back to the previous point of success and then shift to the growth-focused leadership style discussed in part one. The following are focal points to get the recovery process started.
Recovery Leadership Action Items
Prioritizing profitable products/services: Sales leaders must analyze their sales data to identify the most profitable products or services and focus their sales efforts on those offerings. They should also consider upselling or cross-selling to existing customers to increase revenue.
Streamlining sales processes: Sales leaders should look for ways to streamline their sales processes to increase efficiency and reduce costs. This may include implementing new sales technologies, improving lead generation and qualification processes, and simplifying sales contracts and proposals.
Building strong customer relationships: Sales leaders must build solid relationships with their existing customers to encourage repeat business and positive word-of-mouth referrals. They should invest in customer success programs, provide exceptional customer service, and regularly communicate with customers to understand their needs and address any concerns.
Salespeople must be successful: During a “recovery mode” of operating a business, each salesperson must be relied on to bring in their share of the company’s needs. One of the critical measures of success for a sales team is whether or not the revenue they generate outweighs their cost to the company. Sales leaders must set clear revenue goals for their team members and ensure that each salesperson can meet or exceed their targets. If a salesperson consistently falls short of their goals, the sales leader needs to take swift action to address the issue. This action could involve providing additional training or coaching, reassigning sales territories or accounts, or even making the difficult decision to terminate the salesperson’s employment. By being proactive in addressing underperforming sales team members, sales leaders can help ensure that the team as a whole can meet its revenue targets and contribute to the organization’s overall success.
Another important consideration when evaluating the performance of sales team members is the concept of burden costs, i.e., the costs associated with supporting a salesperson’s activities, such as overhead expenses and administrative support. Sales leaders must keep a close eye on burden costs and ensure they are within the revenue generated by individual salespeople. By regularly monitoring burden costs and revenue generation, sales leaders can make data-driven decisions about allocating resources and prioritizing sales activities. This effort helps ensure that the sales team is operating efficiently and effectively and that each team member contributes to the organization’s overall success.
Whether leading sales for growth or recovery, the situation requires approaches and strategies tailored to each internal challenge. Sales leaders must be able to adapt their leadership style to the needs of the business and the stage of the business cycle where the focus remains on prioritizing profitability, streamlining processes, and building solid relationships with customers to achieve long-term success.