The First 90 Days for a Sales Leader: A Guide to Success

By Hope Eyre on Mar 29, 2017

If you’re a Sales VP and you’ve been in the same role for more than 2 years – Congratulations, you’re above average (like a child from Lake Wobegon). You’ve already exceeded the average Sales VP shelf life of 18 months. Statistically, it’s just a matter of time before you change jobs.

Maybe you’re a veteran to the role, but you’ve taken on a far larger sales organization than you’ve ever led before. Maybe you’re a brand new Sales VP and are still shaping your leadership skills.

Maybe your company just reorganized, and you find yourself heading up an entirely different sales organization than the one you had previously – or even more daunting, you’ve been charged with building one out of whole cloth.

And maybe you’re hovering around that 18-month mark, and circumstances are making you wonder whether you should start looking.

So many of our long-term clients include sales leaders who’ve moved from one company to another (often more than once) that we decided to build a guide for achieving quick wins, avoiding pitfalls and setting a clear, long-term sales strategy within The First 90 Days.

We’ve modelled it on the excellent Michael Watkins book of the same name (de rigueur reading for any executive in a new role), but it’s entirely customized for sales leaders and the unique challenges they face taking over the engines of revenue at a new company, division, or group.

After all, you’re being hired to do one or more of the following: accelerate revenue growth, stop its decline, improve profitability, acquire new customers, improve their buying experience, or successfully fend off competitors.

Sales VPs are rarely hired to continue the status quo. If this were the objective, your predecessor would still have his job.

In this blog series, we’ll lay out a comprehensive approach for a sales leader in a new role to succeed in their first 90 days, which is about the amount of time you can expect to receive air cover from executive management.

Taken together, they’ll form a comprehensive guide that contains pragmatic steps for each phase of your first full quarter: 1) Discovery and Diagnosis, 2) Quick Wins, and 3) Long-Term Strategy.

Our guide will include learnings and stories from executives who’ve been there and a diagnostic that helps you quickly learn your new business and take action, based on the situation you’ve just inherited.  To see the complete series in PDF form, along with frameworks and tools in one place, you can download the eBook here:

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Discovery and Diagnosis

Within 30 – 45 days, you’ll have a deep and detailed understanding of the health of your new sales organization from the following perspectives:

  • Financial, Metrics & Management
  • Strategy & Structure
  • Enablement & People
  • Processes & Tools

Quick Wins

Within 60 days, you’ll be able to build an operational roadmap to achieve realistic sales objectives and quick wins, based on your learnings. To do that, you need to fundamentally understand four things:

  • The sales and customer experience your team is currently capable of delivering
  • The cost and efficiency of this delivery
  • Whether management’s expectations, at the time of your hiring, are achievable in the time-frame you’ve been given
  • The morale and motivation of the sales organization to change behavior and the appetite of top stakeholders to support these changes, should they be needed

Long-Term Strategy

Within 90 days, you’ll be able to set a strategy for achieving long-term success, as you and your management have jointly agreed to define it. And you’ll have done so while navigating the political and cultural headwinds any new executive encounters when taking a role as high profile as yours – the new sales leader, who has just completed his first 90 days.

Continue reading the next post in our First 90 Days series: A Sales Leader's First 90 Days: Preparing for Day One.

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Hope Eyre

Written by Hope Eyre

Hope Eyre is a sales effectiveness expert who takes a roll-up-the-sleeves approach to building winning sales organizations. She regularly works side by side with sales teams around account segmentation and planning and has helped numerous complex organizations rethink they way they serve their largest accounts. Hope’s specialties include sales transformation, sales capability development, leadership development/coaching and performance management. If “sticky” could be a word to describe a consultant, it would be a perfect descriptor for Hope, as clients like to keep her around.

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