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Four Imperatives for the Sales Leader

Each of these four imperatives ensures that your sales force is effective at the individual level. They’re all necessary to building and sustaining a high performing sales force.

A Prospecting Plan that Opens Opportunities: It’s one thing to expect your salespeople to prospect. Providing your sales force with a prospecting plan and the necessary tools to build the relationships that open opportunities is quite another. I told the story here about one sales organization that provided their salespeople with “all the leads they could handle” by throwing the telephone book on their desks.

The sales force needs to know and understand their real targets. They need tools to nurture and open relationships. They need ideas that create value for their prospective clients. And they need a campaign that allows them to succeed overtime by persisting (and not by merely being a nuisance).

If you want the sales force to do more prospecting, then you need to provide them with the plan for doing so.

Differentiation with a Difference: I can’t tell you how many salespeople I’ve asked who have no answer for the question, “What makes you and your offering different?” If they can’t answer this question when I ask, I doubt they do any better when a prospective client asks.

But even if a prospective client never asks directly what makes you different, it’s your differentiation that drives a wedge between you and your competitors. It’s the differences that make a difference for your clients that make you worth paying more for. Differentiation is why your prospective client would choose you over your competitors (or the status quo).

If you want the sales force to differentiate in a meaningful way, you have to provide them with the differentiation strategy, language, and examples.

Effective Sales Interactions: The salesperson sitting across from your prospective client has the greatest impact on the outcome of an opportunity. That’s where you win or lose. You aren’t there when those interactions happen. You need to be certain that each interaction is effective.

You need a sales process that moves prospective clients from target to close. Your process needs to create value for your prospective client at each stage of the buying journey. Your salespeople need the mindset, the skill sets, and the tool kits to create the highest level of value. And it’s certain they need business acumen and situation knowledge to create that value.

If you want to make your number, it’s improving that you improve the effectiveness of the sales force.

Excellent Sales Managers: Generals may provide the vision, goals, and strategy, but it’s Colonels that execute and ensure those outcomes. In sales, that’s the first line sales manager.

You need sales managers that are true leaders in their own right. You need to provide them with a model for coaching their teams—and the individual who make up that team. You need to provide them with the space and time to work on the results of each individual, and you need to protect them from serving the organization at the expense of their people.

If you want a high performing sales organization, it starts with excellent sales managers.

You can’t afford not to have the right opportunities, the inability to differentiate, the inability to create value during each sales interaction, or a leaderless sales force.

Questions

What do you provide the sales force in the way of an effective prospecting plan that helps them open new opportunities?

How do you help your sales force explain the differences that make a difference for your client in a way that is compelling to your prospective clients?

What do you do to ensure that your sales force is improving their ability to create value during every sales interaction?

Does your sales force have the first line sales managers that it needs? Are they getting the best performance form their team and each individual team member?


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