5 Key Steps to Find the Right Top Sales Leader
Summary: A high performance selling team is required for success in any business. Good sales managers have limited skills. That limits their results. An Extraordinary manager, VP, CRO, or CSO has skills that multiply team effectiveness of your B2B or SaaS business. Such leaders are rare, like so-called unicorns. However, their skills can multiply your results by 3X to 10X, or more. Here are 5 keys to finding them.
Top Sales Managers and Management Skills Matters
What is sales management? Simply, it is a person who has skills to select, onboard, lead and develop sales people. Top leaders have those skills, but there is one key difference. Exceptional leaders can select, onboard, lead and develop the right sales people to be top sellers. Not every salesperson has such capability. The key skill is that the leader has the knowledge of who, why, and how to test and confirm the fit.
A highly skilled sales leader can power a SaaS & B2B business to outgrow their industry peers, create higher revenue, more customers, more EBITDA, and profits. That increases your business value, as well as respect and business valuation. Executive sales roles include CSO Chief Sales Officer, CRO – Chief Revenue Officer, VP Sales – Vice President of Sales.
But it is important to look past the role and titles, and inspect the skills of the individual. Top executives have exceptional skills in specific areas: the proven ability to select, correct, and develop teams that build strong sales pipelines, produce reliable forecasts, reduce sales cycles, and of course, beat quota.
To achieve that means working with the entire sales function and organization to create a full funnel for sales to convert. It requires the skill to focus their entire team of sales and services reps and have each one fit and collaborate. That includes every account executive AE, account manager AM, sales development representative SDR, business development representative BDR, and sales engineer SE.
When that focus and coordination is achieved, your sales volume, revenues and return on sales increase, and your sales and selling costs, and SG&A are reduced.
Those are desirable outcomes. But achieving such results can remarkably difficult, and complex.
Winning Sales Teams Need Winning Leaders
Selecting talent that is a high quality match with your company, your customers, your products, and your company style is among the most important leadership skills. The problem is: few leaders have highly developed experience, systems and practices in those key areas. Those areas include having:
- skills to know the “must have” requirements, and how evaluate and score such skills
- onboarding systems that truly drive new hires to start fast and achieve quota quickly
- communications, leadership and development systems that grow skills and results
- compensation and recognition programs that attract and create revenue and client retention
Great Managers Know how to Get Key Results
So, what is sales management? What makes a great leader great? What are the key qualities and ingredients? How should I evaluate outsourced sales or outsource sales companies to get top sales leadership and talent?
As with other executive roles, the right experience, style and training matter. Great leaders have combination of a small number of crucial qualities. Those handful of qualities are enhanced by dozens of less well known ingredients. When added together, that sum up to a VP, CSO, or CRO that creates highly effective teams that get exceptional results.
Here are 5 key skill areas that identify a top level sales manager, leader, VP, CRO, or CSO.
1. They Ask the Right Tough Questions
Top leaders combine curiosity and confidence to ask tough questions. Further, they know which questions are most important, and how and when optimal times are circumstances to ask those questions. Further, they are unafraid of the answers, especially when the answers are difficult or disappointing.
2. They Recognize and Celebrate Top Talent
The most important task of every sales leader is choosing talent. Hiring is easy. Selection – choosing the right person to hire – is remarkably hard. Selection is all about making the choice for right people for your specific company, products & services, culture, client segments, engagement process, et al. Most B2B and SaaS managers and leaders lack having enough the skill, nor do they have the systems or track record of making great selections. Leadership training can help, but it requires a willingness to learn, change and adapt. That said, the only way to have a winning team is to create a winning team. Without the right talent, success is possible, but unlikely.
3. They are Superior Communicators
Great leaders are great communicators. They can automatically adjust their style in real time, as well as content and message to the specific audience, whether it is their own team, a client, a business partner, or the company executive team during a quarterly briefing or board meeting. Most leaders have a single style, and have difficulty adjusting to the moment, the message and the audience.
4. They Have the Right Skills to Train and Develop Their Team
Second only to selecting great talent is the ability, mindset, and systems to develop sales talent and teams. You want a team of performers who reliably meet and beat quota. To do that, they need the skills, sales process, tools and sales leadership. Further, this must become a routine process, not a once a year, as technology, competitors and clients are all changing. Great sales leaders are strategists who know how to audit sales skills to understand crucial gaps. Instead of attempting to teach “nice” skills like power words, they focus on matters like body language and developing sales decision skills.
Effective teams must know and be fluent and prepared to speak to and understand the business and technical issues, the terminology, financial impact, and so on. That requires the right manager with the right management processes, decision making skills, sales management systems, and management tools. Training and development are key differentiators that separates good and average teams from superior teams.
5. They have Focus Agility
Daniel Goleman, a pioneer in the field of emotional intelligence, identifies 3 areas of focus that every person needs to maximize their personal and professional effectiveness. Exceptional managers and sales leaders have strength in these 3 key areas. While related, each area is different and unique. People, such as an AE, manager, VP, or a business executive can have different scores and skills in each area. Top people who score high in all 3 areas are rare, but people with the right style and mindset can make significant improvements in their skills and effectiveness.
Inner focus is the ability to focus on one’s self – a task that requires internal control and discipline, such as reviewing pipelines and forecasts. When we hear the word focus, most people think of this skill in this manner. Many people require strong inner focus for learning new skills.
Other focus is the ability to be present and in the moment when talking, listening and meeting with others. Most people think of EQ or emotional quotient, or EI or emotional intelligence in this way. This skill area is the ability to deeply listen and connect with others, whether they report to you, or are prospects, partners, or peers.
Outer focus is the skill of looking outside of yourself, your current context, and your specific situation for perspective, relevant and balance. Outer focus enables a leaders to expand their approach to recognizing situations, solving problems, and discovering opportunities. Tools like personal and professional networking, personal and professional research, and pattern matching are examples of outer focus.
How We Help You Improve your SaaS or B2B Sales Results
Strike Zone provides management consulting services that help SaaS and B2B business create breakthrough results. Our strategies, systems, best practices models use a “good to great” approach that helps transform teams performance. We help “B team” talent to produce “A team” class results.
We provide a range of services to find, fix and improve results by uncovering and solving the source and root causes of performance problems.
Our Outsourced and Fractional Sales Leadership (FSL) services help leaders solve their most important challenges and needs. Outsourcing sales companies can provide individuals or teams of outsourced sales executives.
There are many choices for outsourced sales executives. Selecting one that knows your business, and matches the style and cadence of your company is crucial to your and their success Using an outsourcing strategy helps you reduce your costs. You avoid costs like recruiting, human resources or Chief People Officer involvement, benefits, and perks. A fractional or outsourced sales company strategy enables you to slash the time, hassle, and expense.
However, what’s most important in an outsourced or fractional sales executive is value. A cost benefit analysis measures what you spend with what you get. What you want is more value and less cost.
So how do you select and pick well? Whether the role title is VP of Sales, CRO Chief Revenue Officer, orCSO Chief Sales Officer, what is most important is impact. The ability to level up and shift a sales team and sales organization from where it is to where you want and need it. We call that the shift from good to great, where great means winning more customers, making more sales, and breaking sales records.
FSL brings our decades of success to help you lead, build, and improve the results of your B2B and SaaS company. The roles we serve can fulfill the needs of a Virtual, Interim, Outsourced, Project, or Fractional basis. Further, we ensure that our style and values are aligned with that of your company.
Video: Is it a Sales Problem, a Selling Problem, or a Different Problem?
FSL services help teams level-up in the first 90 days. FSL also training, coaching and continuous development ensures your sellers will excel no matter which way they engage with prospects: in-person, phone and Zoom or via virtual selling skills. FSL provides a virtual, fractional approach that produces 5X-10X the value and impact at less than 50% the cost of a typical full-time VP, Chief Revenue Officer, or CSO.
Moreover, Fractional Outsourced Sales Leadership improves top line revenue performance, as well as operational and financial key performance indicators (KPI). The value created by our fractional leaders brings improvements to important KPIs like:
- Decreased customer acquisition costs (CAC) and customer loss or churn,
- Shorter sales cycle durations,
- Increased funnels, pipelines, and forecasting accuracy,
- Reduced sales costs (SG&A),
- Increased profitability and earnings (like EBITDA – earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization)
While FSL works similarly to fractional or an outsourced Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), and general legal counsel. Our fractional approach helps to magnify and multiply team effectiveness and results in ways that no other functional or executive roles can achieve.
Better Results from Stronger Sales Leadership
Our FSL services includes:
- weekly 1-on-1 meetings with each team member
- weekly team training, coaching and development meetings
- availability for customer meetings and coaching
- weekly status update and planning meeting with you and executive team
- all for a fixed monthly fee
Contact us to discuss how our FSL services can help you. We look forward to reviewing our fit, benefits, and format. Those benefits include lower CAC, SG&A, costs, and higher results.
Get StrikeZone. Transform Your Team from Good to Great
A free 30-minute call can help us each discuss your needs, our fit, and your goals. Let’s talk.