VPs of Sales: Challenge Your Managers to Think Differently About Sales Productivity

status-quo.jpgNo one ever said that you had to be an Einstein to run sales, but his thoughts do apply: “Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.” Yet many sales leaders seem to accept living with the insanity of sales ineffectiveness, or sales enablement programs that lack focus.

These sales leaders don’t know how to challenge their HQ team to change the status quo. If you run sales, take this as an opportunity to challenge your team to think differently. Here are five questions to ask.

1) “Tell me your plans for onboarding and sales training/enablement?”

What’s the first thing that your marketing and product managers will mention? If they respond with something about new product capabilities, it’s backwards. We guarantee the results will be out of alignment, and will not be well received by the field sales team.

Bottom line: if you don’t have a single sales-led definition of the strategy and the outcome, go and get one.

2) “Whose journey are we on?”

Progressive sales teams don’t just think about sales process; they start by thinking about their buyer’s journey. At a minimum, it’s a progressive engagement model. Properly adapted, it’s a sales culture change that matches 2012 reality and means better selling results, less waste, and a far better way to organize your training and content.

Bottom line: if you don’t have a well defined buyer’s journey, and then properly map your sales process to it, then get your top field sales practitioners in the room with your sales ops and marketing leadership and develop one.

3) “Do John and Jane know when to ‘go/no go’?”

Do your average sales reps understand what they need to discover and discern, and how this relates to the key “go/no go” decisions they need to make at each stage in the buyer’s journey? Sometimes the best decision might even be to disengage and nurture for the future. Top performing reps intuitively get this and mediocre ones don’t. Therefore, mediocre reps struggle, believing every deal is worth winning. Again, it’s simple. Knowing what you need to know and what you don’t at each stage for “go/no-go” can dramatically improve your sales effectiveness.

Bottom line: get your best reps into a room and ask them to map their “go/no go” decisions against your buyer’s journey. Then bake this into your sales process and ask your sales managers to instill this discipline into their forecast calls.

4) “What sales capabilities are we missing?”

Play “find the missing sales capabilities” with your best people. When critical sales capabilities are not well developed, they prevent your team from engaging, closing bigger deals, or compressing the sales cycle. A hint: less is more.

Bottom line: identify the top three sales capabilities that are the common denominators within your best performers. Then ask your sales managers – does our sales enablement address these? It doesn’t? Perhaps it’s time to send you to pasture.

5) “How well do we coach?”

You probably have multiple levels of sales management. Ask yourself: “What impact do these coaches have on our overall selling effectiveness, and where are my coaches?” Hard experience as professional coaches has taught us that any program where we can’t find committed manager-coaches is flawed.

Bottom line: get your top coaches into a room and ask them how they’re improving performance and how can you help. Document the responses, coach the lesser coaches, and bake it into the performance review process. John Wooden would approve.

Steve Crepeau
Steve Crepeau and Jeremy Barnish are panelists on the “Challenge Your Company to Think Differently about Sales Enablement” breakout session at the Sales & Marketing 2.0 Conference this October in San Francisco. For a copy of his book, Effective Enterprise Sales Enablement, email him at screpeau@truesalesresults.com.
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