Tom Landry, the legendary football coach, once remarked, “The secret to winning is constant, consistent management,” which is a perfect summation of what it takes not only to win Super Bowls but also to manage a winning sales team. The key for sales leaders lies in constantly focusing on those activities where they can provide clarity for sales people, coach and improve their skills, and add value to their opportunities and accounts, and doing all of this consistently within a predictable framework.
To achieve this there are five fundamental management activities that effective sales leaders leverage to build and maintain successful, winning sales teams. These activities include a careful alignment with the organization’s Go-To-Market strategy, a deliberate focus on early stage pipeline opportunities, a dedication to coaching, and a deliberate approach to account growth, all underpinned by a carefully designed and rigorously adhered to operating rhythm.
Knowing Where to Focus – One of the greatest challenges with any management position is knowing where to focus and how to avoid constant fire fighting. In sales leadership, this is perhaps even more acute due to the inherently dynamic nature of sales. Under pressure to deliver revenue, sales leaders will often migrate towards the latter stages of the sales process believing that helping to get deals over the line is the best use of their time. They do not appear to realize that by doing so they are often implicitly endorsing poor selling practices. The frenetic end of the sales cycle is the habitat of the ineffective sales leader. Here, it is too late to align or qualify the opportunity appropriately, and there is little time and few opportunities to coach. Here also, the pace and activities are dictated by the opportunity rather than any operating rhythm.
Focusing on the five fundamentals of effective sales management, on the other hand, places control firmly back in the hands of the sales leader, and provides him or her with a blueprint for ensuring that sales people focus on the right opportunities, qualifying them properly, while they as sales leaders are consistently adding value to the sales process and coaching their sales people. Some of the benefits of this approach include the following:
- Sales people aligned with the organization’s Go-To-Market strategy
- Sales people being able to identify and properly qualify the right opportunities and target customers
- Increased forecast accuracy and pipeline velocity
- Account growth
- Increased skill levels and effectiveness of sales team
- Predictable and efficient processes
- Increased effectiveness of the sales leader