Connecting the Dots between Sales Strategy & Execution


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50% of solving a problem is defining it correctly. If you’ve read our blog lately, you’ve noticed sales execution is a popular subject. A few recent examples:

Each of these articles focuses on your sales reps. Effective ways to enable your sales reps to make the number. These are critical components to achieving your top line revenue goals. However, they are not the only path to reaching your goal.

Rep Focus Isn’t Enough

Today’s post focuses on the missing link: Enabling your front-line sales managers. They are the connective tissue that makes sure the field executes your strategy. Without strong front-line sales managers, your chances of making the number are low. They ensure the day-to-day fundamentals are executed. Things like:

  • Deal strategy
  • Pipeline reviews
  • Call plans
  • Rep time allocation
  • Career development

As the CEO, you may wonder if addressing this is within your control. You’re busy running the business. How can you help your sales managers execute?

Download the CEO’s Sales Manager Test to help with this. This tool is 10 questions to give you problem clarity (50% of solving). Your involvement in problem definition puts solving it squarely within your grasp.

CEO's Sales Manager Test

Why Sales Managers Fail

There are a number of reasons top managers fail. A few examples you may be seeing:

  • Cadence – They aren’t sure where or how to spend their time
  • Talent – They have a hard time finding and hiring ‘A’ player sales talent
  • Performance Management – They aren’t sure what to measure and how to fix sales issues.

It’s likely you’ve promoted some of your top reps to sales managers. When this happened, were they taught how to do this job? Were they given training and tools to address the above issues?

The answer is usually “no.”

Perhaps you assumed their success as a rep would carry over into sales leadership. You are not alone. Almost 100% of sales training in B2B companies is focused on reps. Onboarding. Prospecting. Sales Process. Handling Objections. Selling to Decision Makers. Etc, etc. Managers are left out in the cold.

5 Steps to Developing Sales Managers

Take control of this issue. Here are 5 things you can do for your managers.

  1. Define the Problem – As mentioned, half of solving the problem is defining it correctly. In this case, you have to know what current state looks like. Look for things like:
    1. A defined role description and scorecard
    2. Current training and development content designed specifically for managers
    3. Uniform metrics used to manage rep performance
  2. Design the Framework – Determine the items required to improve the performance of your sales managers. Think of this as the blueprints you are creating for success. You should involve your top leaders here. Their input is critical in determining how they’ve become successful. This should include:
    1. Sales leadership training courseware
    2. Tools and job aids for sales managers
    3. Activity cadence (time in the field, 1on1s, deal reviews, etc.)
  3. Develop the Courseware – Similar to sales training, you need a repeatable process to develop your sales leaders. Your investment here is critical. It cannot be event-based or it will not work. To make the training stick, it needs to have enablement.
    1. Role plays and face-to-face leadership scenarios
    2. Quizzes and mock presentations to test for understanding
    3. Follow-on workshops for continued development
  4. Implement – Your work is just beginning. The “playbook” has been designed and is ready for release. Now, it’s time to teach your leaders and focus on adoption. In this phase, you have to:
    1. Provide the initial training
    2. Deliver a coaching handbook to your managers
    3. Give them coaching forms and expectations
  5. Field Adoption – The most important step. This is why event-based training fails. The team can’t sit in a room for 3 days and then be expected to change. Adoption focuses on developing habits of successful sales managers. Ways to make this step work are:
    1. Gamify the new curriculum and reward quick wins and positive behavior changes
    2. Reinforce changing behavior by communicating wins as the CEO
    3. Seek regular feedback on the cadence and tools
    4. Iterate the tools and processes to develop a sustainable program

Call to Action

The most important link connecting your strategy and field execution is sales management. Ineffective sales leaders will be the death of your number. You can’t scale and the long-term implications of this are bleak.

As the CEO, you can control this. Spend a few minutes taking the CEO’s Sales Manager Test. It will help you diagnose potential issues you might have in your organization.

The solution to creating sustainable top line sales execution is within your grasp. It will require some investment on your part to do it right. When the team is blowing out the number, it will be well worth it.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ryan Tognazzini
Ryan is a recognized thought leader in business-to-business sales force effectiveness. During his time at Sales Benchmark Index, he developed many of the evidence-based best practices housed in SBI's database of 11,000 companies. Ryan has more than 15 years of experience focused on increasing sales productivity through improvements in account segmentation, lead generation and sales processes.


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