Interim Sales Leadership
The difference between a Manager and an Executive Sales Leader.
A Sales Manager operates a sales machine. An Executive Sales Leader creates and supercharges a sales machine. Taking your vision for the business and your core services/product value propositions – and turning them into a repeatable series of messages, questions and tactics for making sales.
The Role of an Interim Sales Leader.
Frequently, I’m hired to cover a gap when a sales leader leaves the company. You may not have the best candidate waiting on the bench, and want to take your time finding exactly the right person. But sales must go on and it may be too much time to take on yourself, and perhaps outside your wheelhouse.
As an Interim Sales Leader, my goal is keep up any momentum that exists and effect positive change quickly. I’m prioritized on first getting new orders, then fixing what’s broken or what’s needed and non-existent. I’ve refined the short-term path to increased sales by learning steps to an immediate impact – work that can transform sales and sales control in your business. I help you start to build a sales machine, and teach you the buttons you need to keep pressing in order to maximize sales for your organization.
Your business is unique, so areas of immediate focus will be those that drive the biggest, fastest impact. Here are some examples:
(Click on highlighted links to see blog articles on topics.)
- Effective personal organization for sales professionals.
- How to develop a personal sales plan for sales professionals.
- How to develop an account plan.
- Key sales stories and how to convey to prospects.
- Prospecting methods, targeting and metrics – building pipeline.
- Standard for tracking and developing leads properly.
- Sales questioning and discovery.
- Typical responses by a prospect when hearing your sales story. (Overcoming objections).
- Each step to move a deal from interest to action to close – as fast as possible.
- Qualification criteria.
- Effective sales presentation skills and materials.
- Closing tactics.
- Selling to current customers tactics.
- Evaluating your sales team.
- Basic sales training needed to bring up the team.
- The perfect profile for a person selling for you.
- Best incentives for driving sales on a cost effective basis, resulting in highest profit and employee satisfaction.
- Motivation and sales culture.
- Important metrics and standards for sales team performance measurement.
- Accurate forecasting.
This is an example of a fast start. The same principles apply to larger, established companies:
I came into a very small organization that had developed a brilliant set of software aimed at large, well-known and respected businesses emailing to their consumer subscribers. Companies like a major retailer HQ’d in San Francisco, a top financial services/investment firm HQ’d in Baltimore, and the 5th largest destination website on the internet – each sending millions of emails every month. The company’s tremendous and innovative software products ensured the vast quantities of (legitimate, opted-in) email would reach intended recipients and not be blocked as “spam”.
Step 1: Define the key messages to which prospects would respond. It wasn’t that they could send more email quickly. The key message I recognized almost immediately was brand protection and consistency of consumer experience. The sales team was able to convey a message that matched underlying concerns from prospects – your brand is safe with us.
Step 2: Get a sales process in place to follow up on leads and identify where we were doing well against expected standards, and where we were weak. Use a pipeline management metrics chart to pinpoint problems and opportunities.
Step 3: Now that we understood why people would buy our product, how they would buy our product, and had a good (developing) sales story in place, it was time to gear up a team. But, wait! First I built a profile of skills, experience, aptitude an anticipated daily responsibilities of each member of the sales team. Before I talked to any potential sales professionals I knew what I wanted them to do, how they could do it, and about how much I needed to pay to match that qualification set.
Step 4: Get the message, methodology and process straight with the sales team. I put together a sales training package that taught, among other things:
- The problems and opportunities the product addressed, and how to question a prospect to find a match (or disqualify)
- Clear messages that would resonate with and entice a qualified prospect.
- How the competition (including the biggest competitor, “no decision”) might position, and how to block and trap against them.
- Collaterals for selling, demonstrating and closing.
- Expectations as to metrics and measurements.
- Close any gaps in general sales skills, such as how to identify hidden objections, how to handle price discussions, how to establish rapport, etc.
(BTW, my favorite boast is that out of my five original senior sales hires for that business, today five are VP- level sales leaders managing their own teams.)
Total timeline to breaking through to the first major order: 9 weeks. This was particularly amazing due to a normal business sales cycle of major software to enterprise accounts of 3-6 months. We had 2-times budget in qualified pipeline within 2 months, and 4-times pipeline within 6 months. It took 2 quarters get to quarterly sales marks consistently exceeding budget.
Since then, I’ve gone on to refine my strategies for startups, turnarounds and jump-starting sales organizations to the point where I can have immediate impact on the very first day I enter a new environment.