There’s a lot of pressure to close more business as fast as possible, and you don’t have a lot of time to get the job done right. So it’s important to not waste your time on things that don’t matter.
But you know all this. So we’ll skip ahead to the good part. Here’s how to hit the ground running in your new job as a sales leader:
3 (Big) Ways a New Sales Leader Can Rapidly Add Value
1. Dive into the trenches.
Any sales organization is only as good as its members, so start there.
If you are at an organization with several hundred reps, then the people you directly supervise are probably sales managers. Get to know them. Take the time to really understand the organization:
- How does the management structure work?
- Is there a cadence of accountability? What does that look like?
- Are your leaders delivering the same message throughout the organization?
- How are your leaders engaged in activity management?
Evaluate talent on the managerial level. Are those sales managers setting their reps up for success? If not, why? Are they modern sales leaders? What are their pain points?
Establish trust and communication with those sales leaders to get started on the right foot.
If you directly supervise a team of salespeople, start by assessing the performance of each rep. But that doesn’t just mean look at how many closed won deals they have over the past month!
It’s easy to look at who has closed business and who hasn’t. Take your evaluation a step further. Examine each rep and ask:
- How does the rep fit within company culture?
- Do they take a collaborative approach?
- Are they utilizing the tools in your sales stack?
- Do they seek out coaching? Are they interested in refining their sales skills?
Note that higher level sales leaders can do this same assessment for their sales managers. The key here is to go in open-minded (as you hope your team members will do for you).
Finally, get involved with the daily activities of your team. If you lead sales managers, attend their meetings, analyze data with them, familiarize yourself with their management tactics and perhaps even sit in on some coaching sessions.
For a leader of sales reps, be a selling sales leader. Get on the phones and try to source opportunities with your team. Don’t be the Wizard of Oz and hide behind reports and dashboards, says ExecVision CRO Steve Richard.
Engaging with your team members within the first few days and weeks will establish trust and communication.
2. Arm yourself with data.
As a modern sales leader, we know you’re data driven. Now’s the time to harness that.
Start with the lagging metrics:
- Where are most of your customers? (Vertical, company size, etc?)
- What are your close rates?
- What is your average deal size?
- How many closed won deals did your team have last month? Last quarter? Last year?
- What percent of quota are your reps hitting?
This data is interesting, and it will tell you the outcomes of your organization’s sales process as it currently stands. Look at which customers your organization has won over the past 6 months that have been the most impactful. Try to identify insights and trends in terms of who you should be selling to.
Next take a look at your leading metrics — how much time is your sales team spending and where are they spending it? How many calls are your reps making on a daily basis? Are they spending enough time prospecting leads? Specifically, find top performers and figure out which sales activities they prioritize and why.
Get an understanding of this by interviewing individual reps. Find out what they think is most effective to the sales process, as well as what they think is working in general and what’s not working.
3. Assess your sales process.
At this point, you can start to assess your organization’s sales process. What activities are your salespeople doing to move opportunities from one stage of the process to the next? Are they focused on the right activities? For example, are your reps communicating with prospects mostly over email when a phone call might get better results?
Identify the most important activities and determine where they fall in your sales process. Sales processes will be different for every organization, but an example might look like this:
- Rep identifies potential lead through outbound prospecting.
- Rep connects with lead to gain more information and qualify them as a prospect.
- Rep conducts discovery with prospect to determine use case and communicate value proposition.
- Rep gives prospect demo and creates an opportunity.
- Rep sends a proposal to the opportunity.
- Rep closes deal with new customer.
Which would make this particular sales process look like this:
Lead > Connect > Discovery > Demo > Proposal > Close
If you’re happy with how the sales process looks now, then great! But if you want to deploy a new process, you’ll need to figure out how and in what time frame you can successfully do that.
And there you have it! Kicking ass as a new sales leader is within your grasp. The main challenge is to be unafraid to make changes or adjustments to the organization. It can be unsettling for a little while, but a well laid plan will eventually come together.