The Four Pillars of Technology for Sales Leaders | Pillar Three: Technology and Sales Leadership
This is the third in a series of four articles that pose the question:
What is the intersection between optimal sales leadership… and the optimal use of today’s technology?
I believe there are four areas that sales leaders need to pay attention to when it comes to technology. In the first article, we talked about some of the ways that your technology can support your team’s sales process – which is the first pillar. In the next article, we looked at the second pillar: methodology. Now it’s time to take a look at the third pillar, sales leadership itself. In the final pilar, we’ll examine how your technology can support the buyer journey.
As an effective sales leader, you want to ensure, through your personal example, that you are walking your talk when it comes to decisions that support the first two pillars, sales process and methodology. Here are three important ways you can do that.
- Establish exit criteria that are stage-specific and role-specific. If you and your team use a CRM, that means every time someone on your team wants to move from one stage to the next, they’re going to need to confirm, within the system, that certain clearly defined conditions have been met. Who identifies those conditions? You – the sales leader. Who evangelizes on the non-negotiability of meeting those conditions before moving out of a given stage? You – the sales leader. If you don’t use a CRM, you will want to embed the right exit criteria in whatever system you do use. You might not think of this as a cultural issue, but it is. They say numbers don’t lie; neither do criteria. Someone on your team has either met the criteria to move a given opportunity forward… or they haven’t. These are not judgment calls. Everyone on your team needs to play by the same rules. You want your sales culture to be one that’s rooted in facts and data, not hunches. If someone hasn’t met all the criteria, the opportunity does not move forward. It doesn’t matter what your personal relationship with that person is, how charming they are, or what promises they make about what’s going to happen next with the prospective buyer. By setting clear and measurable expectations up front, you ensure that the sales group knows exactly what they need to ask prospective buyers and when they need to ask. The whole dynamic of the relationship with your team changes once you establish clear exit criteria. Instead of you focusing on why a given deal fell through, the focus on the salesperson fulfilling the stage criteria that make closed business possible. Once you establish the right exit criteria, you also have a powerful, effective coaching tool. When people are coached to improve their ability to meet the exit criteria, the hygiene of their sales funnels improves dramatically!
- Remove distractions and keep your team focused on revenue production. I look at sales leaders as air traffic controllers. They’re usually juggling several dozen different things at once and have a lot of issues to keep track of. But just as an air traffic controller doesn’t share irrelevant information with the pilot for fear of causing him to lose focus, we’re going to make sure that one of our priorities is using our technology, tactfully but purposefully, to edit out potential distractions. We don’t want to devote a lot of bandwidth to anything that could take our people off course. This choice, too, sends an important cultural message to your team: Revenue creation, via execution of the sales process, is the priority. Here again, it’s important that we walk our talk. If we don’t want others to get distracted by company updates that aren’t relevant to them, or by gossip, or by sports, then we need to be sure we’re not using team communication channels for anything other than revenue-related matters.
- Make it measurable. An effective team selling culture is rooted in verifiable data – as opposed to hunches. As the leader of the team, it’s our role to make sure the technology we use to communicate with the team is focused on metrics – daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually. There’s a famous management maxim credited to Peter Drucker: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” If we don’t measure the daily selling behaviors of our team (which are really the only levers they can control), then how will we know how we are doing in terms of reaching the weekly, monthly, and quarterly goals we’ve set? It’s our responsibility as leaders to be sure we’re building our technology leadership strategy around setting and tracking the right daily numbers. If the tools we’re using aren’t providing the metrics we need to track the outcomes that matter, it’s time to either change the settings – or change the tools!
For help in overlaying your sales process with the right methodology, and leading the sales team effectively, contact us.
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