Archive for April, 2016

Considering Hiring a Sales Leader — WAIT !!

Over the course of a long sales career I have seen many situations where management felt they needed to bring in a sales leader and many times did not think it through.

I know a CEO who had 3 salespeople reporting to an over worked COO. Although the sales team was mature and well managed, he thought perhaps he simply needed a sales leader.  Simultaneously, he heard of a sales executive he knew who was looking for a new opportunity and so he hired him as a VP, probably without fully thinking through what his objective was.

The new VP did not have a background in the particular industry, but we all know that the industry knowledge doesn’t matter (not!) as long as the leader knows how to sell. So his first task was to get up to speed on industry and product knowledge.  The logical place to get that would be from the established sales force and the marketing officer. For some reason, he was reluctant to engage with the sales force for learning and never took the time to understand whatever sales processes were in place.

The demands of senior management were focused on making accurate forecasts and the new VP quickly got wrapped around the axle of making sure he could provide for this need. As he tried to bring clarity and accuracy, he found that the forecasting processes  that were in place did not seem to be working. He therefore went back to his years of experience and started changing processes. Because he did not understand the processes in place, his proposed changes created some issues with the sales team.

I believe that sales is a “mentored” profession and no matter how mature the sales force, leadership needed to provide some front line training and strategic assistance. This VP however felt it was more important to perfect the forecast rather than perfect the sales force. His only interaction was the “Monday Team Call” at which he went through the pipeline account by account, simply asking for target close date. Each week, the call was  the same drill with (often) the same answers from the sale folks.

Eventually the original COO left the company and when the CEO brought in a new COO, it was clear from day one that the sales org was not being managed. The new COO started working with the VP to make certain that he understood that you can’t manage the forecast without managing the sales force.

The scenario I just described resulted in a downturn in revenue for the first year the new VP was in place. Had the CEO taken the time to determine what his objective was and tested the new VP on process management, they would have had a different result.

My recommendation for senior management is to have a prospective sales leader do some research and provide a proposal on how he would bring value to the organization.  In my own past, I have done this without being asked and it has always assured me of being hired and assured management that objectives and processes are clear.

I recently read an article by Tamara Schenk (One of my favorite sales leaders) which gave me the impetus to write this Blog. You will find value in reading her article and following her. Here is the link

More later….



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