At Sales Director Central we meet and talk with many Founders, Owners and Directors in small to medium businesses selling a complex solution in a B2B environment. Their views and approach on Sales Leadership, and even for some of the more savvy investors, is a constant source of discussion. We interview the key stakeholders during free diagnosis/triage sessions and again during the initial stages of our engagement. The seven signs on sales leadership we notice are common across all businesses are approached in vastly different ways. So, whatever you are doing, you are not alone.
The seven signs we commonly discuss and see are:
In a recent LinkedIn article, JD spoke about the 4 reasons Directors hold on to poor performing sales people. One of the questions we've been asked is "How do we really know if they are poor performers?".
On the surface this is an easy answer "Zero sales". But this is not easy for many Directors to really be sure about. Mostly this is because they are not wise to the "tricks of the trade" and fear the loss of "the big deal is due any day now". Here are my tips to get started on this.
1. Don't hire reps who have a consistent 1-2 year track record. My rule of thumb on a good rep who is coming in to grow my business is that in year 1 their sales need to be at least 80% of a generous target. The great ones will find a way to hit target even coming in to a poor or new patch. In year 2 all reps should be over-achieving even if only by a whisker. In year 3 they should be smashing it.
At the opposite end, the 1-2 year consistent job changer is possibly a...
In his recent post, JD spoke about the need to control the sales process. We've been asked to expand on how that is achieved in new and existing sales cycles. We recommend 3 simple re-framing points.
The first thing to consider in your business is to be clear that the "sales cycle" is your frame of reference. A buying cycle is the client's frame of reference. This can seem like a trivial point but if all your internal language is from your frame of reference, how are you going to consider the client's viewpoint? Start to bring this language to your sales discussions and you'll soon be thinking like a buyer.
Often people new to sales, or just extremely nice and polite sales people, are apprehensive when it comes to asking questions about the process the buyer is going through. You need to think about your resources (time, people, money) being just as valuable as your potential client's resources. It is even more important when your client is...
No it wouldn't!
It is undeniable leads are a constant source of frustration to enable scale for Founders.
But it wouldn't solve the real issue to create a peak performing sales function. A peak performing sales function requires three key elements, aside from leads.
1. A sales framework or methodology to help qualify deals, provide a common vocabulary for the business, and help the sales person identify areas requiring attention. (Sales is a team game)
2. A plan to know how, where, when and what is needed to make our target.
3. A deal review mechanism to challenge some of the assumptions and craft a solid execution plan to uncover missing information.
With this foundation leads are the oxygen that fuels the fire.
In the hands of an experienced Sales Leader these components create discipline around the sales process, allow meaningful discussions around deal success and enable peak performance, scale and growth.
Founders, are you falling short of your target this year ?
Does it surprise you that the average tenure for a sales person is 19 months and has been trending down in recent times?
Here are my thoughts on WHY.
Most sales people are hired and left to fail. They have little support, after all they are being paid a base salary. The business is poorly set up to support the individual. In the SME market Founders have spent most effort preparing the product or service for sale, not preparing the sales function for success. The induction process, if there is one, focuses on product knowledge, not understanding the customers drivers and business pain points. KPI's are all revenue based, not activity based. The measures should be around pipeline growth, market intelligence as well as revenue. If you suffer from FFS, Frustrated Founder Syndrome then why not complete the sales self assessment survey, link is in the comments. Sales Director Central - changing the way Founders Scale. #salesacceleration #salesdirectorcentral
Who is your target market?
In the past few weeks I have asked several Founders this question.
The answers surprised me. They were general, no specifics, the only detail was an industry, at best. They tended to want to be all things to all people. The answers told me that they had become frustrated with growth and were trying to address a far wider market in order to generate revenue.
Get crystal clear who your target market is. For example I have two. The first is the Founder of an IT company (complex solution) with 0-3 sales people turning over $1-10 mil, selling to multiple decision makers, that are frustrated with growth. The second is speaking on Sales Acceleration to a Corporate market.
What is yours? Once you have decided, check it against your existing client base. Does it match ? Once you have it check your that marketing addresses that market segment.
FFS is Frustrated Founder Syndrome - solving the growth challenge for Founders.
I see it often, we are asked to do a review of the sales function, and see glaring issues with sales people. My belief is there are no bad sales people just people in the wrong company.
Here are the reasons from founders on why they have kept a poor performer:-
1 Scared the pipeline will leave with them
2 Listen to the ‘woe is me’ me stories. Sale people tell great stories and founders hold on too long. One sign of this is that when asked a simple question there is a long winded unnecessary answer
3 It was hard to find the poor performer how hard will it be to get a gun
4 It must be the product's lack of functionality The best sales people are typically not trawling seek and linked in to look for work.
Gun sales people are working for someone else making their number.
Bottom line is if you think you have a poor performer you are probably right. What to do - take stock. Do a review of all your sales processes.
Outsourced Sales Director-changing the way founders...