Who do you have to be right now? A visionary strategist? A disciplined analyst? Maybe it’s time to morph into an inspiring leader.If this sounds like three roles for three people, most psychologists will agree with you. But the job demands that every VP Sales bring every one of these personalities to the office. And use each one several times a day.
Understanding this challenge is the first step to success. The second, is to know which personality to use when. Here are some ideas.
Letting loose as a strategist
The best strategists aren’t necessarily the most disciplined people. Creative by nature, they put lots of ideas on paper, bounce them off others before they lock down a strategy. Then they stay flexible, making changes as needed. Keep this in mind when you:
Develop a Go-To-Market (GTM): As VP of Sales, your closer to customers than anyone in senior management. You know what products and markets have most potential, what changes can give you more. Contribute this information to help your company create a GTM for success.
Write your sales playbook: Once the GTM is set, it’s time to align processes and deploy resources to deliver. You’ll need formal sales process. You also need to segment customers, design territories and devise incentives. Try lots of ideas. Where practical, solicit ideas from others, too. Weigh pluses and minuses before you start.
Adjust your sales playbook: The analytic part of your job (see below) helps you locate both bottlenecks and best practices. Finding your way around the bottlenecks calls for imagination and creativity. As does replicating and communicating successes.
Equip reps to succeed: Sales reps need everything from scripts and presentations to email templates and collateral. They also need enough hours in a day to cultivate deals and close. Keep an eye out for anything you can do to make them more productive.
Buttoning up as an analyst
An effective analyst is buttoned up and meticulous. If ever there’s a time to close the door (even if it’s a metaphorical door) and shut out the world, it’s when you:
Analyze sales metrics: There will be times when you have to go into the pipeline, peel back the data and see where the team needs to focus. That’s when you need to look above the bottom line to and find the details that lead to both snags and the successes.
Forecast: Gut feelings and intuition lead to missed forecasts and misdirected sales efforts. Pay close attention to real-time data. This will help you identify both the risks in your pipeline and the deals most deserving of your attention.
Evaluate performance: Going through each individual rep’s pipeline may be time consuming, but it’s been shown to drive growth. You can see what deals or pipeline stages may be tripping up a rep. You can then diagnose the problem and see that they get the coaching they need.
Inspiring others as a leader
Don’t confuse leadership with charisma. Great leaders succeed by helping others succeed. Keep this in mind as you…
Create an environment: Some sales leaders like collaboration. Others want competition. Some personal styles are hands off and advisory. Others want instructions followed to the letter. Know your personal style and if necessary, adapt it to your company’s culture.
Recruit and hire: The best sales managers are always looking for talent. Turnover is inevitable and you need the right number of good people to hit your goals. Always have a list of 2 - 3 potential hires with the personality, customer focus and discipline you look for.
Train and mentor: Training isn’t just for new hires and kick-off meetings. You need to know customers well enough to help reps work through roadblocks or chokepoints. And if a rep has unique snags (see above), use pipeline meetings to solve the problems.
Cultivate and close deals: Though your priority should be on helping your team close deals, sometimes you have to lead by example. If you came up through the ranks as a salesperson, get out in the field, so reps know that you “feel their pain.”
Make the job fun: The best salespeople are natural connectors. They like people and helping them solve problems. By the same token, they hate administrative functions—the time it takes to update the CRM is a drag.
Look at how Rollio can make your salespeople happier, by virtually eliminating the need to manually update the CRM.