Depositphotos 169400788 S

How To Craft a Champion Sales Force: a lesson for VPs and Directors

The estimated reading time for this post is 6 minutes

“Sales leadership is the discipline of guiding the strategic direction of the sales function and managing the sales organization to achieve commercial objectives.” – Gartner

Introduction

Sales is life; without the revenues generated by the sales function, your company’s cash runway will be very short.

So, achieving your business goals becomes a reality with a sales  team that’s well-equipped and strategically trained. Great Sales teams are not born, they’re trained. This article aims to guide leadership through the objectives and methodologies of strategic Leadership sales training, with the ultimate goal of building a world-class sales organization.

Overview

Strategic sales training focuses on several core objectives:

  • Enhancing leadership skills – when you have a culture of continuous learning within the sales team you foster a culture of success and motivation.
  • Implementing the latest sales methodologies and technologies – it’s tough to stay updated with the market, so when you build the framework for success, your team will always be executing at the highest level.
  • Improving customer engagement and relationship management – an existing customer relationship is more valuable than a new one, so in order to sustain your business growth you should seek methods to keep your current customers happy and engaged.
  • Driving sales growth – when you are intentional in your approach you’ll create growth through effective strategic planning and execution.

The Foundations of a Champion Sales Force

Leadership and Motivation

The role of leadership, particularly of VPs and Directors, is paramount in shaping the sales team’s culture because team members model their behavior based on the leader’s action. It’s about setting a vision, giving them the tools they need and inspiring the team to achieve it. Strategies for motivation and fostering a positive environment are crucial in maintaining high performance levels.

Key Leadership Skills

In leadership, the right mindset and skillset pave the way. Great leaders have high levels of Emotional Intelligence. This intelligence is modeled via their strong communication approach, willingness to make decisions, and an empathetic approach to both customers and team members.

Mastering Modern Sales Methodologies

Evolution of Sales Strategies

Sales strategies have dramatically evolved with advancements in technology and changing customer expectations. An overview of these developments helps leaders understand the necessity of adapting and growing.

The bleeding edge modern sales motions have extended beyond Challenger sales and Predictable Revenue methods.  Current methods incorporate all members of the revenue operations group: marketing prepares case studies, content, digital outreach or awareness campaigns, customer success provides direct market feedback from actual customers to hone in on Ideal Client Profiles and messaging points, and sales execute outreach campaigns during and after marketing’s initial efforts have been executed.  As a result a holistic account or persona-based multi-channel approach is becoming more prevalent.  

Training on New Sales Technologies

Staying updated with CRM systems, sales enablement and analytics tools, engagement solutions, and digital marketing are no longer optional. Incorporating these technologies into the sales process enhances efficiency and results.  The creation of the stand alone Revops function for marketing, sales and account management facilitates the adoption and coordination of technologies related to the revenue function.

Elevating Customer Engagement

Understanding Today’s Customer

Deeply understanding current customer behavior and expectations allows for a more tailored sales approach. If not already completed, your account management or customer success team should have a very clear understanding of the Jobs to be Done of your current customers and their personnel (as referenced by Clay Christensen in his infamous HBR Article from 2016) .  As such we’re a major proponent of the same framework developed by Josh Braun here because it’s a quick and easy way for you to think about this process..

Relationship Management Skills

Building long-lasting client relationships is fundamental to continued success because an existing customer is always easier and more profitable to sell to (up or cross) than a new one. As a result, your account managers should be well versed in ‘softer skills’ such as consultative selling and active listening in addition to providing honest feedback and communication to both the customer and your product and marketing teams.  

These same account managers need to continually capture data on the nature of the account including but not limited to, business firmographics, names and roles of customer team, and the impacts that the market is having on the customer.  Lastly, they should be able to express how their offering continues to add value to the customer’s main challenges.  

Goal Setting and Strategic Planning

Setting Smart Sales Goals

Effective goal setting involves ambitions that are challenging yet achievable. As we’ve mentioned in this previous article on goal setting, there are multiple methods to build these processes.  Regardless of the method you choose, an effective sales leader should understand how to leverage data and analytics so as to make  informed decisions and the creation of relevant sales targets.

Strategic Sales Planning

Developing a comprehensive sales strategy in alignment with company goals entails flexibility and responsiveness to market changes, ensuring sustained growth.  Such a strategy should include the plans and understanding which of the six sources of revenues you should expect during the planning period.  It should also include the execution tasks and steps that need to be completed so as to attain the desired outcomes. 

Measuring Success and Continuous Improvement

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

The concept of the KPI originated from the OKR framework developed by Andy Grove and Intel in the 1970s, of which much has already been written.  If you intend to use this framework (which I strongly recommend) then you’ll need to understand what activities will create the desired outcomes you seek. In doing so, you’ll have identified the right KPIs that are critical for measuring sales success.

When I work with clients I focus on three types of KPIs:

  1. Top of Funnel – these are activities that are executed by the marketing and sales teams as they relate to initial engagement of the market and can include the number of prospects that have engaged your site chatbot, or filled in landing page forms, emails or phone calls made during a period of time.

  2. Mid Funnel – these are activities or outcomes that occur with prospects that are engaged with your sales team.  I include the number of deals and their monetary value (weighted and unweighed), time spent in each deal stage and number of deals without a scheduled next activity in this section.

  3. Bottom Funnel – these are activities or outcomes at or near the customer decision point and can include deal velocity, closed-won ratios, loss reasons, number of engagements for each outcome, firmographics per closed transaction.

Feedback Loops and Sales Training Updates

The importance of ongoing feedback and continuous training is underscored. Regular updates and development opportunities keep the sales force sharp and competitive.  There are multiple ways to execute on this continuous learning loop but one of the most effective ones I’ve executed is the “book club” wherein the team chooses a specific reference book they’re seeking to learn from and the leader prepares a summary of several sections each week for everyone to review.  When done right, “book club” engages team members and provides them feedback as to how and why they can use these learnings in their current sales motions.

Conclusion

Crafting a champion sales force requires comprehensive training across various dimensions. For VPs and Directors, understanding these strategic elements are crucial in building a sales organization that not only meets but exceeds business goals. Strategic training is an ongoing process that necessitates commitment and adaptation.  When a culture of continuous learning is executed well, then the team will be able to sustain any amount of market impacts and continue to thrive.

Call to Action

For CEOs and founders of small to medium-sized businesses, assessing current sales training programs is the first step towards creating a high-performing sales team. Consider reaching out for professional training services to tailor a program that aligns with your organizational needs and objectives. The investment in strategic training is an investment in your company’s future success. Let’s build a world-class sales force together! To sum it up, follow these points:

  • Assess your current training program
  • Research professional training services
  • Collaborate on a tailored strategic training plan
  • Invest in the future success of your company.

About The Author

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top