You don’t have to have the top sales talent in your industry to succeed. You do have to have leadership.
Ask any political candidate, football coach or successful businessman and they will all tell you that to improve performance and drive better results in any endeavor, it all starts with leadership. In the corporate world, as sales training budgets and programs have waned, many leaders seem to think when things go awry that they have a sales training problem. I beg to differ.
In my 30+ years in sales leadership for service providers, and in providing advisory/consulting services to end clients, I observed many underperforming sales teams. I would submit that the primary reason these teams were not performing as they should have been was not a lack of talent or training, but a lack of leadership. This manifests itself in numerous ways, including:
- Poor quality of sales pipeline (poor qualification processes, lack of management discipline when approving pursuits and failure to advance opportunities “up or out” through the sales cycle).
- Leadership Opportunity: Implement a strong sales process and enforce compliance at both the management and sales executive levels.
- Sloppy preparation of client proposals, presentations, value propositions, statements of work, contracts, etc. (leadership accepting sub-par work products just to meet numbers).
- Leadership Opportunity: Drive a sales culture of quality, not quantity.
- Poor preparation/execution for major client meetings and presentations (lack of proper sales processes requiring reviews and “dress rehearsals” and failure to enforce timelines).
- Leadership Opportunity: Implement a strong sales process with appropriate timelines for reviews so that last-minute changes and “winging it” are avoided.
- Poor ability to identify, track and retain client information (lack of investment in sales operations and related sales infrastructure/tools, including CRM, and lack of discipline when using same).
- Leadership Opportunity: Invest in sales operations and tools; tie compensation to their use to ensure compliance and ROI.
- Poor morale and motivation (lack of appropriate/effective compensation plans and poor leadership with respect to formal and informal sales recognition activities).
- Leadership Opportunity: Develop a culture of rewards that includes compensation and recognition; lead by example in terms of taking care of the people that work for you.
- Overly long sales cycles and poor client conversion rates (leadership that allows needless bureaucracy, lengthy approval processes and overly rigid requirements).
- Leadership Opportunity: Put your clients first – ensure that your company is responsive and easy to do business with; remove internal barriers to success.
- Lack of deep and lasting client relationships (lack of funding for travel, expenses and client relationship development, lack of a company/sales leadership culture that emphasizes client service).
- Leadership Opportunity: Invest in your clients from day one – let your sales execs develop the relationship and let your client management folks keep them.
You get the picture. You don’t have to have the top talent in your industry to succeed. You do have to have leadership that cares and is willing to invest the time and money to do things the right way so that their sales people can do what they do best – sell.
Need help evaluating your sales leadership? Or did any of the above observations strike a chord with your organization? I am happy to help. Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 214.507.1447, and let’s talk.