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The CEO Procrastination Sales Trap

Execuses in the Procrastination Sales Trap
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The procrastination sales trap that derails your strategy implementation

As CEO, you are responsible for the delivery of strategy and revenue, which forms part of a three or five-year plan. At the commencement of the year, there is a sense of urgency for results as it directly affects your cash flow and sets the momentum for the coming periods. You establish the focus and boundaries with the sales leader and have the expectation it will be delivered.

As you move into the second quarter, you start to question how your company is operating. If you are trending below your anticipated targets, you may reflect upon the following:

  • Why aren’t we hitting our goals?
  • Are we all on the same page with what is required?
  • Why can’t our people execute?

The answer may simply be a procrastination sales trap. Procrastination is often associated with people not making decisions or inaction, but it is much more. Procrastination directly correlates to poor strategic traction and manifests in three common behavioural indicators that your leaders may be presenting. As part of a major survey conducted by Sales Focus, we uncovered a series of responses and actions taken by sales leaders when sales results were under quota, and they were not what you would expect.

Procrastination Sales Trap #1 – Complacency

The company is travelling well, and the sales manager believes there is sufficient momentum in the business to keep going. Customers are buying, and all is well. The marketing department has delivered some good campaigns, and they are optimistic. These false perceptions, supported by the general sense of activity in the business do not provide a catalyst for action, as these stakeholders believe that the business is rolling along in the desired direction.

The problem is there is no risk strategy to address any potential market changes or competitive shifts, and complacency is making your company operate in idle. The reports used may be insufficient to identify subtle changes in the market, and the market may be pulling the company further away from its profitable path.

Procrastination Sales Trap #2 – Confusion

The strategy was clear and discussed at length with the team leaders. Both marketing and sales have agreed they understand what is required. However, did that understanding flow through to the teams reporting to them? How did they convey that information? Have they actually communicated all the necessary information to their teams?

If they have not communicated it effectively, then you need to ask, “Did they really understand it?” Can they articulate the strategy back to you with sufficient detail that instils confidence? Have you reviewed their communication strategy for information dissemination?

Having a robust sales strategy can be a solution to this problem. This article assists you in understanding the characteristics of a robust sales strategy would consist of for your business.

Often sales and marketing leaders delay implementation due to a lack of understanding, which may be compounded by fear of seeking more information in an effort to save face and protect their reputation.

Procrastination Sales Trap #3 – Priority

So many sales and marketing leaders are battling with competing priorities. The well-known saying, “When you are up to your ears in day-to-day demands and crises, it is hard to remember that your primary directive is to implement the strategy.” Many sales and marketing leaders are challenged to make the transition from working ‘in the business to working on the business. They feel their best contribution is working within the team rather than guiding them. They have lost the focus on strategy implementation and ensuring the team is being guided on the right course at all times. Leaders cannot let the business pull them in directions that may be in opposition to the plan. It is important to identify the difference between sales management and crisis management, and the insights are available in this article.

If you identify any of these behavioural characteristics, then you need to take action before another quarter slips past. You may become another victim of procrastination if you do not take action.

To address these issues, confirm the following with your leaders:

  1. What is their risk strategy against market movements and competitors?
  2. How do they measure the performance of the team against your strategy?
  3. What are the key deliverables of the strategy?
  4. What are the milestones that will contribute to those key deliverables?
  5. What are their timelines for delivery, and when do they become concerned?
  6. What measures do your leaders apply to themselves to ensure they work on the business, not in the business?

Meet with the relevant stakeholders and identify the critical areas required for change. Ensure that all points are documented and establish mechanisms for follow-through. If the leader is not delivering on those points, then the team will not be able to provide the results you require to realise your strategy.

We provide coaching to sales managers and sales leaders to assist them in improving their team’s productivity and effectiveness. Please contact the office to discover more about how we can assist you.

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About the Author: Adele Crane

A leader in Implementation Consulting.
CEOs and Managing Directors have relied on Adele Crane to solve challenges with the performance of their sales and marketing since 1990. Her consulting experience in delivering results in 90-120 days is unprecedented by any other known sales and marketing consulting professional in the world. As an author of 3 acclaimed books, appearances on major media, and publications in USA, NZ and Australia, Adele’s experience brings fresh thinking and contemporary practices to business.