communication

Roles Lead to Revenue

Waterfall.png

We have recently worked with a couple of disparate sales teams with different sales performance results. The teams were in different markets but were comprised of roughly the same number of salespeople. The higher-performing team had one clear distinction - role awareness.

Let’s define role awareness:
The ability of a person to be aware of their role in the world or within a given environment. This is the ability to understand the expectations placed on a position and to clearly see how those expectations are to be met.

You can see where this is going regarding our two teams. The high-performing team had a clear understanding of their roles, specifically their role’s expectations. The company that was not performing at a high level was struggling to define the roles through expectations, responsibilities, and accountability.

Roles matter when it comes to revenue. Closing profitable, new business is difficult on its own. Achieving this goal with a confused, or muddled, role increases the difficulty exponentially. So as a CRO, how do you handle role clarity on your sales team?

  1. Define the roles. I know this sounds basic, but how did you get to this confusion in the first place? At some level the roles were not clearly defined. You can redefine the roles at any point, even if you have been with the company for years. Always start here.

  2. Define the variables. My experience is that roles balloon due to variables that amass over time. Someone has to deal with the critical ones and eventually those variables are absorbed into the role. This role creep eventually strains the person’s time. They have many critical tasks to complete without a proper allotment of time to complete them. Anticipate as many variables as possible. Revisit the variables frequently as new ones may have arrived.

  3. Revisit the roles. Teams grow, responsibilities grow, expectations grow. If you are not revisiting each individual’s role during annual reviews, you are missing an easy opportunity to stay in front of the variables. Don’t let your revenue stars get bogged down in non-revenue responsibilities. These responsibilities may be important, but always look for alternative ways to handle them. Keep your revenue-generating roles as clean as possible.

Role awareness is often overlooked by leadership, but never by the people in the roles. The salespeople dealing with unclear role responsibilities may choose to avoid discussing it with you. Some (many?) salespeople view it as a weakness of inefficiency. Don’t let this happen. Stay tuned in to your team and each individual’s role awareness.

Leadership for Executives

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

Leadership obviously has multiple components, but our years of RoundTable experience suggests there is one cornerstone component that stands alone.

Yes, toxic leader profiles and/or ridiculous business plans can neutralize any business opportunity, but the one missing component we observe with increasing frequency today is the lack of clear accountability. At CRO Executive RoundTable, we define a leader as someone people will follow.  When we meet with member company employees to apply this definition, two discussion topics typically evolve:  accountability and the 3 T’s profile.  These two are directly connected to overall success.

Accountability

Many executives have been trained, coached etc. to believe consensus is leadership.  The goal is to get ‘buy in’ by all participants but the real world outcome is better described as management by lack of ownership.   Margaret Thatcher said it best:

“Consensus: “The process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values, and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner: ‘I stand for consensus?”

Accountability does put focus and varying levels of stress into the organization but success is not achieved by complacency or consensus.   If complacency is in control, the culture will deny, deflect and/or destroy all efforts for change.  Everyone is operating in their comfort zone while the business is consuming resources just circling the wagons…which may end up being the precursor to circling the drain.

3 T’s Profile

The profile that makes Accountability a leadership skill are combinations of Trust, Transparency and Timeliness.  These are almost boundless research topics but the employee engagement discussions are less complicated.

Trust - is earned; employees want to know senior leadership is more than committed than they are to delivering the results.  Execs wanting to be “consensus scorekeepers” are often viewed as just being along for the ride and producing zero contribution.

Transparency – employees know some topics are not fully disclosable but they want to know – or be able to ask – about all other matters that impact growth and success.  Executives that face questions and issues head on are aligned with where employees want to be.

Timeliness – we live in a 24/7 world today.  Employees don’t want to learn more about their company from the web than from leadership.  Employees are the top-tier stakeholders in any business so putting other individuals or groups first is a breach with direct performance engagement consequences.

Conclusion These are not hard tasks to understand or deliver except when effective leadership is not the top priority.  That may appear to be an oxymoron but it is clear to employees.

What is Your Leadership Style?

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

We help CRO's and other leaders understand their leadership style.  This knowledge helps optimize communication with their team, develop their emotional intelligence and leverage their natural strengths.

Harvard Business Review provides a short look at some general leadership styles.  You can take a quick quiz on this page to determine your style.  The selections are these:

COLLABORATOR: empathetic, team-building, talent-spotting, coaching oriented
ENERGIZER: charismatic, inspiring, connects emotionally, provides meaning
PILOT: strategic, visionary, adroit at managing complexity, open to input, team oriented
PROVIDER: action oriented, confident in own path or methodology, loyal to colleagues, driven to provide for others
HARMONIZER: reliable, quality-driven, execution-focused, creates positive and stable environments, inspires loyalty
FORECASTER: learning oriented, deeply knowledgeable, visionary, cautious in decision making
PRODUCER: task focused, results oriented, linear thinker, loyal to tradition
COMPOSER: independent, creative, problem solving, decisive, self-reliant

An important pull quote from the test:

But far more often we find that success depends on the hows — specifically, how leaders’ styles mesh with their teams and organizational cultures.

Very true. 

5 Brutal Leadership Comments

Untitled design (1).png

Whatever you do, avoid these statements.

After decades of working with companies to improve their revenue performance, we have heard a litany of comments from leadership teams that will cause any engaged employee (or outside resource) to urgently start the quest for another opportunity.

The 5 most atrocious are:

1. The only job the sales department has is to keep manufacturing running at 90+% capacity.
2. Customers would be “stupid” not to buy this.
3. Forecasting should only happen after sales writes the order.
4. Sales needs to find smarter customers.
5. If we have to downsize, sales will be the first to go.

If you encounter one of these…Good Luck!
Regarding your next opportunity – contact us and we will connect you with one of our CRO RoundTable member companies.

Revenue-savvy leadership is never a commodity.

What Matters Most in Selling

Photo by  imagesthai.com

Qualifying.

That’s it.  End of post.  No, we’ll go a bit deeper.  I write this post as I sit at a Caribou Coffee right next to an actual sales interview.  It is fascinating to observe as the candidate is doing fairly well.  He is qualifying the position which is excellent.

He is falling down in that he is asking the right questions and then answering them HIMSELF.  Disappointing.

There is an elegance to strong qualifying…almost an artistry.  The questions flow in a conversational manner, the prospect is comfortable in answering and the information is gained by the salesperson.  It is enjoyable to watch from my perspective.

When you are interviewing sales candidates, it is important to watch for more than just the answers they provide.  Pay attention to their questions, their strategy in answering, their conversational approach, etc.  Even watch for candidates who are able to ask difficult questions.  Imagine them selling for your company – will your prospects buy from them.

In the end, the salesperson’s ability to qualify, a job, a prospect, a deal, is the backbone of all good selling.