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3 Ways Sales Leaders Can Help Reps Hit Their Numbers
Managers need to take a step back to move the sales force forward
For the rest of the October 2016 issue of CRM magazine please click here

The role of a sales leader is to develop and implement a successful sales strategy that enables his sales organization to achieve its corporate objectives (revenue, profit, units, etc.). It seems straightforward. However, often the administering of a sales organization (budgeting, forecasting, HR concerns, and so on) can take a sales leader’s focus off the most important objective: enabling the sales department to be successful and make its quota. The heart of a successful sales strategy is outlining not only what needs to be done but how to do it.

Unfortunately, most sales executives have let themselves get too far away from the day-to-day business to truly know how things get done and whether they are working efficiently. They mandate requirements or implement processes without truly understanding their impact on the one resource that ultimately determines success: the sales rep.

To ensure sales leaders are enabling and not distracting—or worse, impeding—their reps, they need to step back and ask themselves this question: How can management best design processes and methodologies to give sales the best opportunity to close business?

Below are three ways sales leaders can remove roadblocks and enable the sales organization:

1. Solicit rep feedback on improvements and priorities. It astonishes me how often sales leaders make unilateral decisions on sales process adjustments. What better source is there for insight into what needs to be fixed than the individuals who are actually using the current system—the sales reps? They will be able to articulate what elements or features need to be part of a solution and can help prioritize which improvements will be most beneficial to them. By intimately including them in the process, sales leaders get firsthand knowledge of the problem and gain consensus and buy-in from end users.

2. Push decisions as low as possible. Multiple levels of decision making and unclear lines of authority are two areas that cause untold frustration and delay in a sales cycle. Within a sales campaign, sales reps are constantly balancing the demands of the customer with the ability of the organization to meet those demands. From pricing iterations to custom product and support requests, sales organizations need quick turnarounds on important decisions to keep momentum with the customer going. Many organizations rely on multilevel decision making to diffuse responsibility and support the adage “Don’t lose alone.” If there are too many levels to decision making, the majority of those levels won’t be close enough to have good insight and won’t be truly vested, as they won’t be truly affected by a negative outcome. I would argue that all good salespeople would rather have the authority for a quick decision and be responsible for their actions. By pushing decisions down as low—and with as few levels—as possible, sales leaders empower their teams to be accountable and in better control of their fate and deliverable timelines.

3. Concentrate most on the processes that affect the closing of deals. Efficiencies become most important in the later stages of a sales campaign, when companies have bought into your value proposition and are truly evaluating your proposal and/or negotiating with you on a contract. It is during this time that you are showcasing your ability to deliver and giving them a preview of what it will be like to be your customer. Processes associated with pricing iterations, contract development, redlining, SLAs, product and/or service delivery timelines, and all the approvals that go with them become critical to the success of the deal. Focus on the specific areas of your business that are associated with the negotiation and closing of deals to enable better customer response and more predictable forecasting. By showing customers your ability to deliver on your promises and their expectations, you will secure the start of a trusting and beneficial partnership.


Paul Harney is an independent sale process consultant who utilizes his Fortune 200 sales experience to help companies close the disconnects between sales infrastructure, the opportunity pursuit process, and customer value creation. He can be reached at paulharney@bellsouth.net.

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