Sales Leaders: Assess Skills Gaps Now to Avoid Pipeline Issues Later

By Hope Eyre

We suspected this would happen, and then we got confirmation from the Sales Ops team at our largest client.

“Some of our best sellers have become some of our worst,” they said.

The client was describing a subset of sellers who had historically been star performers based on the strength of their relationships; especially those who had relied heavily on face-to-face socializing.

“It’s the ones who never had to lean into any technology, because they were successful without it,” the lament continued. Pipelines already under stress were absolutely going to be affected.

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CSO, CRO, VP of Sales: Which Leader Fits Your Company? Which Fits You?

By Masami Middleton

As sales consultants, we encounter sales leaders with a variety of fancy acronyms in their titles. In addition to the SVPs/EVPs of Sales, the sales leader landscape also includes CROs, CSOs, and CGOs. While these titles imply a distinction in roles, to most people, it’s just alphabet soup. 

What’s the difference between a Chief Sales Officer (CSO) and a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) or Chief Growth Officer (CGO)? From the CEO or board member perspective, which role does your business need? For a sales leader, which role is the best fit with your capabilities?

The easiest way to distinguish between these roles is to compare their scope of responsibility, core objectives, and what defines success. Appointing a “heavy hitter” to a CSO, CRO or CGO role, rather than a VP of Sales, indicates the need for a greater span of oversight from a strategic, revenue generation, and customer lifecycle perspective.

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Talking to Your Sales Team: Do it More Often, Starting Now

By Hope Eyre

If you manage sellers, frontline sales managers or indeed anyone, you understand they’re under stress, apprehensive, and craving any type of normalcy until actual normalcy returns.

Most sales leaders we talk to are currently in break/fix mode: Some are having to shrink their organizations or reduce pay. Most are trying to figure out how to help customers whose businesses or entire industries have been upended.

All are worried about the health and safety of their teams in addition to working hard to help sellers quickly become accomplished in a virtual environment. The key to managing much of this lies in how you’re communicating with your team while stress is running high.

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How Do Sales Leaders Stay Credible and Legitimate?

By Hope Eyre

There’s this TED talk I like by General Stanley McChrystal called “Listen, Learn… then Lead.” We assign it as homework in our Leadership Academy, a 6-module program we’ve run for years at individual clients to ready their next generation managers for leadership positions across a variety of functions.

General McChrystal (who knew he was funny?) has several poignant messages delivered compellingly against the backdrop of combat, but his key takeaway is this: Leaders are good when they’re willing to learn.

“How," he asks, "does a leader stay credible and legitimate when they haven’t done what the people (they’re) leading are doing?”

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Why Newly Promoted Sales Leaders Rise to Their Level of Incompetence

By Kelsey Peusch

Whether you are a successful top performer seeking a senior management position or you’re already a senior Sales Leader looking to hand pick your next protégé, there is something you should know. It’s been statistically proven that the best sales representatives won’t make the best sales leaders.


All too often we encounter sales leadership teams yearning for the skills and structure required to elevate their team’s performance. We are talking about sophisticated, highly educated, teams of men and women, the majority of which were top performers in their respective organizations.

The jarring realization, one we must often share with our clients, is that the skills required to be a high performing seller are different than the skills required to lead high performing sales teams. Seems obvious, no? Unfortunately, we see organizations seeking to retain top talent by rewarding them with upward mobility with little regard to skill set.

This anomaly is known as The Peter Principle which presupposes this fact: “If organizations promote the best people at their current jobs, then organizations will inevitably promote people until they’re no longer good at their jobs. In other words, organizations manage careers so that everyone ‘rises to the level of their incompetence’. ”

Sales is no different and here is the proof.

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Boosting Sales Coaching Creativity: 3 Techniques to Reinforce Basic Selling Skills

By David Szen

I spend a lot of time with sales leaders and my hat goes off to the hours they work and pressures they accept in their role. Their job is a hard and often thankless one dealing with complex client, employee, organizational, competitive, and financial pressures.

Sales leaders have a great capacity to reinforce essential selling skills in their teams, but all too often, the day-to-day demands get in the way. While dealing with daily pressures and fire drills, many of their reps are stumbling on fundamental selling skills. The ones I hear a lot about are: 1) discovery/questioning skills, 2) navigating and answering the tough questions, and 3) delivering relevant and powerful value messages.

Here are three techniques to put the creativity back into coaching and develop these key selling skills amongst your team.

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Changing the Tires on a Sales Team in Motion: Sales Transformation vs. Sales Disruption

By Masami Middleton

How many times have you heard the term “sales transformation” and thought it’s just consultant speak?  Or an ideal that’s impossible amidst your team’s never-ending hustle to make the number? 

If you are a seasoned sales leader, you’ve probably lived through all kinds of disruptive forces.  Mergers and acquisitions, business model changes, new competitors, and leadership or rep turnover. These factors can render your sales strategy, process, selling skills, or organization structure obsolete (or dated at best).

While many sales leaders recognize that a transformational change is in order for one or more of these areas, actually executing it feels like changing the tires on a car that’s moving fast.  But what’s the tradeoff? Would you rather change the tires now for future performance gains or skip it and risk a high-speed blowout on your sales team?

NASCAR pit crews change tires and re-fuel multiple times over 200-400 laps to give their racer the necessities to win.  We recommend a similar, sequenced approach to prioritize and execute sales initiatives across a transformation journey.

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7-Point Checklist to Grade Your Sales Management Cadence

By Masami Middleton

Great sales leaders demonstrate three things consistently.  They are great sellers, great coaches, and great operators.  We find that of these three traits, leaders are best at trait #1 (no surprise that skilled sellers get promoted to management), but typically fall short on traits #2 and 3 (coaching and operating).

We have published 16+ blogs on or around sales coaching – it’s a popular topic.  What’s less popular?  The mechanics of successfully operating a sales team.

The good news is, of the three leader traits, "operating" is the easiest to learn and most straight forward (albeit detailed) to implement.  It also supports coaching by putting structure around what you look for in your team interactions and how you help them get there.

We don’t care what you call your method of operations – cadence, rhythm, motions, cycle, sequence...  If you have a structured series of team and one-on-one meetings and interactions (over the course of a year, quarter, month, and week) that together help your team make their number and meet organizational goals, you are an effective operator.

Here is a 7-point checklist, with supporting examples, that you can use to give yourself an honest grade on how you operate your sales team. How does your management cadence stack up?

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Sales Leader’s First 90 Days: Setting a Longer-Term Sales Strategy (Post 4 of 4)

By Hope Eyre

This is the conclusion of our multi-part exploration of how sales leaders approach their first 90 days in a new role. The topic was born from a startling statistic: The average tenure of a Sales VP working in the same role at the same company is incredibly brief – only about 18 months.

So many of our clients have found themselves in a new position, after a relatively short tenure elsewhere, that we wondered what we could learn from their experiences that could be put to pragmatic use by sales leaders changing jobs.

Post 4 of 4

In this, our final blog post (for days 60 through 90), we’ll show you how to organize the considerable information you’ve gathered, actively look for major alignment issues and build a roadmap that sets longer-term sales strategy.

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Sales Leader's First 90 Days: Dig Deep to Determine Longer-Term Strategy (Post 3 of 4)

By Hope Eyre

Introduction

This is a continuation our multi-part exploration of how sales leaders approach their first 90 days in a new role at either a new company or with a new sales team at their current company. The topic was born from a startling statistic: The average tenure of a Sales VP working in the same role at the same company is incredibly brief – only about 18 months.

So many of our clients have found themselves in new positions, after a relatively short tenure in their previous roles, that we wondered what we could learn from their experiences.

Article 3 of 4

In Article 1, we tackled onboarding yourself with your new company to prepare for day 1. Article 2 offers concrete steps for balancing the need for learning with the need to take the quick actions required to achieve early wins – what we call our “Secure & Get Right” method.

In this article, we’ll show you how to dig deep into the sales organization so you can systematically surface the knowledge you need to determine longer-term strategy. We’ll also use our discovery process to understand the all-important political and cultural landscape. Finally, we’ll begin building relationships with key influencers whom you will, sooner or later, have to rely on to ensure your team’s success.

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