I've learned countless lessons as Sales Result's CEO, some the result of great decision-making, others from making mistakes. Fifteen years later, I use these learnings to coach sales leaders to be the best version of themselves. Today's blog features five key points that I incorporate into every executive coaching engagement, and that I believe are incredibly important for any CEO or sales leader to remember.
Put Data First
Without data, you may as well run blind. Data helps you forecast, identify trends, and uncover gaps in your sales team. But first, define what you want to track, and what success means for your organization. With endless data and measurement tools available at your fingertips, there's no excuse not to use data, but it can be overwhelming if you don't know what to look for.
Two kinds of data should matter to the CEO: trending information and success metrics. Trending information is used to spot patterns and predict future events, such as historical sales and financial information. Success metrics are clear targets aligned with your sales goals that will prove if you've been successful, such as customer satisfaction rates and new leads.
Know Your Sales Funnel
The sales funnel is a necessary forecasting tool, showing the lead volume needed to reach your sales goal, and the conversion rates at key points in the sales process. This means of X number of leads entering the funnel, a certain amount will pare off between stages, leaving a final amount to exit the funnel as new customers.
After building your sales funnel, predicting lead volume and movement, and rolling it out to your team, you'll want to have regular 1:1 funnel review sessions to remain cognizant of the funnles state. In this meeting, review reps' leads. lead status, and bottlenecks they're up against. From there you can take calculated action, tweaking your funnel metrics and training the sales team in any weak spots.
Keep Your Customers Close
Your current and past customers are your greatest asset, but often attention shifts off them once a sale closes or the engagement ends. No matter how crazy life gets – and as a CEO you can bet it will – always make time for your top 10-20 customers.
The best way to stay top-of-mind with the customer is to meet with them once a quarter, at a minimum, through quarterly business reviews, standing lunch date, or sometimes just a simple phone call. Your top accounts should also have a dedicated account manager and account plan, which is a detailed guide of what’s going on in the account, activities to keep them happy (such as CEO interaction), and potential business opportunities.
Transparency is the ticket to sales team greatness. If your team doesn’t understand your vision and goals, how can they help you achieve them? Answer: They can’t.
Lack of transparency from the top can cause employee uncertainty and dissatisfaction leading to low quality of work, fear of taking risks, and, ultimately, the loss of good employees. So set a standard for open communication in your sales organization. Do this by keeping your team aware of organizational changes, incorporating their feedback into your decisions, setting clear role expectations, and giving recognition to individuals and the group. Given the opportunity, your "A" players will rise to the top.
Play to Win
A job is something you do for a paycheck. A career is a professional pathway in a field you love. Effective sales leaders aren’t in it for the money, they’re in it for the win and the satisfaction that comes along with finally closing complex sales, coaching their sales reps into top performers, or making strides ahead of their competition.
Winning doesn’t stop at the top. Just as you’re fully committed to the win, your employees must be too. They should understand and adopt your vision and the challenges that come with it. This only happens by way of a great sales leader who’s passionate about the company, the product, and the people. If you can be this kind of CEO, you’ll cultivate a loyal team who's as dedicated to winning as you are.