Today’s post is by Duane Sparks, chairman and founder of The Sales Board. He is the author of Action Selling, Customer Relationship Professional, and Action Selling Leadership. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The primary role of all sales leaders is to deliver profitable revenue to the company. To be a great sales leader, therefore, you must focus on how that can best be done. If you want your sales team to function as a well-oiled machine for producing revenue and great margins, you need to do a great job of creating an environment for success.
In other words, you need to create a great sales culture. To do that, you have to put the people and processes in place to produce enough revenue and profit margin to achieve the goals set in front of you. The key word there is “processes.”
A process is a set of linked actions that are taken to create a desired outcome. When it comes to the sales leadership process, our desired outcome is profitable revenue. Just like Total Quality Management (TQM), Six Sigma, Kaizen, or any other continuous-improvement methodology, sales management needs to be a process...a set of linked actions designed to function within an overall sales improvement system.
Here’s a great example of a complete sales leadership process:
The nine “Acts” are linked actions – sub-processes, if you will – that support the three primary roles of a sales leader (plan, organize, and coach). Put them all together, and you have a great sales-management process – one that lets you create a sales culture that just keeps getting better and better.
At this point, let me just offer a few observations about the critical importance of processes to effective leadership – and to sales leaders, in particular.
- Every outcome is the result of a process.
- The most successful leaders manage processes, not people. Good processes allow you to better manage the people who work for you.
- Documented processes are necessary for achieving high-quality results. If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t understand what you are doing.
- Only a process can give you continuous improvement.
- The best people can be brought down by a bad process. Fix the process, and good people will succeed in their work.
- The greatest sales gains occur when every employee who has contact with customers is able to follow the same sales communication process. That’s when a great sales culture emerges.
Not all processes are critical. The most important are those that are executed often, have a direct link to individual sales performance, and underlie business growth. If sales leaders are going to be great at the key roles of planning, organizing, and coaching, they’ll need to deploy processes like those described in “The 9 Acts of Leadership.” These are the most critical processes to the long-term success of every sales leader:
- Goal setting process
- Sales cycle process
- Hiring process
- Process for measuring results
- Sales call process
- Sales coaching process
Because these processes are performed repeatedly, small improvements in them can add up to huge benefits. Take your sales cycle process, for example. A tweak in how well salespeople orchestrate their sales activities can get you significantly more sales, a sizable acceleration in sales cycle velocity, and an improvement in gross margins. Fine-tuning your sales cycle process can produce big gains as small improvements are consistently applied.
Just like an effective TQM methodology, the best sales cultures have common processes that are reliably deployed. When these processes are consistently completed, sales goals are achieved, an unbeatable sales culture is developed, and your sales team runs like a well-oiled machine.