The connection between sales strategy and execution is often poorly managed.
As the CEO, you may wonder if addressing sales strategy execution is within your control. You are busy running the business. But it is important, the strategy is useless if it is not executed.
The challenge for a CEO is sales strategy has a major effect on the company, going beyond just the sales numbers. In real terms, it affects the mix of customers you will have to trade with in the future, the quality of customers and the company’s ability to scale from that customer base.
The common focus for companies is to look to the sales representatives of the people to deliver. They are the people on the front-line, so therefore it is considered their actions will define if the strategy is executed. The fact for many companies is that this is not true. The person in your business that will define strategy execution is your sales manager. Their ability to articulate it, manage to it and importantly take action to remedy any discretions away from it.
Salespeople do contribute to sales strategy execution, but they only define its success or failure where they are not adequately managed. A situation that only occurs where a sales manager does not manage and believes in autonomy.
For a sales manager to excel in strategy execution, they need to be enabled with the right tools to make it happen. Tools that bring about accountability and focus for the sales team, and in turn provide the CEO with the transparency they need to ensure it is happening.
Without strong sales managers, the likelihood of delivering targeted revenue is low. They ensure the day-to-day fundamentals are executed. Things like:
- Sales planning
- Sales effectiveness and productivity to plan
- Customer strategies
- Pipeline reviews
- Territory plans
- New business strategies
These are well-known contributors to successful sales strategy execution.
If you are one of the CEOs that is challenged to have the results delivered, then you need to consider how well enabled your sales manager is to do the role. You need to understand why they are failing, and then a remedy can be identified.
There are some primary reasons sales managers fail and these are the most common we see.
- Focus – They are not sure where or how to spend their time as they still have many of the traits related to being a salesperson
- Talent – They have a difficult time finding, hiring and developing sales talent
- Performance Management – They are not sure what to measure and how to fix sales issues.
Number three is the most common reason. Many managers can operate well in the good times, but once things become a little complicated, they do not have the experience or capability to fix the problem.
It is likely you have promoted your top salesperson or longest tenure salesperson to the role of sales manager. When they were promoted, were they taught how to do the new job? Were they given training and tools to address the above issues? Have they worked with someone who is a professional sales manager and learnt the skills and management demands required?
The answer is usually “no.”
Perhaps you assumed their success as a salesperson would carry over into sales leadership. You are not alone. Rarely do companies invest in sales management training, even though it is the most important function of delivering revenue and executing sales strategy.
Adele Crane works with company sales managers to assist them excel in their roles. We enable them with the tools and systems that deliver an immediate improvement in the performance of the team performance.
Referred to as Sales Focus Money Ball, this is the methodology for performance improvement and driving growth in sales organisations.
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