The 4 Pillars of Sales Leadership Success

Want to remember the key points of PERK?
Download this useful checklist.
 

Print it out, hang it up, or just keep it in a folder of useful reference info.

Sales leadership is an extremely important skill. I want to stress the fact that it is a skill, and a learned behavior. 

As you might guess, just because someone is an excellent salesperson doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to be an excellent sales manager. Conversely, excellent sales managers aren't necessarily excellent sales people.

Early in my career, I had the opportunity to advance from salesperson to the sales manager role for the first time. I had assumed that those fine folks who were formerly my peers would just automatically respond to what I needed, when I needed it. But, of course...it’s simply not the way it works.

PERK

Over the course of years of experience working with many types of B2B sales organizations, I developed my own perspective and best practices around sales leadership and the related skills. I've found there are four basic tenants that every sales leader needs to constantly be asking themselves—whether they are with a large or small company, whether they are a frontline sales manager, all the way up to the Chief Revenue Officer.

Am I doing these four things to help my team succeed?

I’ve developed a framework for success called PERK, which stands for:

  • Preparation
  • Expectations
  • Review
  • Keep Out

Preparation

An excellent sales leader is prepared. It’s not just you, specifically, that needs to be prepared, but it's our responsibility as sales leaders to ensure that our sales people are prepared.

What does it mean to be really prepared? It means that we've done everything that we can to ensure that our team has the appropriate tools, the appropriate training, and the resources to be successful. That is foundational. 

Usually a client starts working with Innovo because their sales aren't where they need to be. They often will point to the current sales leader, and say that they're not pulling their weight. Some of the first things I look at are: 

  • What are they doing to ensure that their sales team is prepared for success?

  • Do they have an excellent sales training system?

  • Do they have the appropriate tools and resources, such as laptops with the right types of software, and CRM, for example?

  • Is the team getting proper training to use all of those platforms and devices?

Expectations

The second piece that is fundamental to sales leadership success is defining what are the expectations. 

Each salesperson needs to fully understand what is expected of them. Not only from a strategic perspective for the company's future, but also what is expected of the salesperson each month, each quarter and certainly for the entire year. That can be pushed all the way back to what they're responsible for on a weekly basis. It's not only that they're responsible for all this, but that you and the salesperson have agreed that these things are exactly what we as a team need to achieve. 

They need to understand what their role in the bigger picture is, and how are they going to be contributing to the overall success of the organization. Sales is critical, obviously, however, many other departments are equally as critical. We're one piece of an overall process that's ultimately going to drive the goals towards achievement. 

Review

The third pillar is reviewing what you and the salesperson have agreed to do on a regular and consistent basis. 

I cannot stress how important this third pillar is because studies have shown that sales leaders who spend at least an hour each week one-on-one with their sales people will have a greater degree of success. They will consistently hit their monthly, quarterly and annual goals when that time is invested. 

These aren't just the typical pipeline sales calls either. These are coaching opportunities. Hopefully you've developed a relationship with your sales folks so they see you as someone who can be a resource. Someone who will listen to their situations, and dig deeper into the questions that those situations have created. It’s an opportunity to explore, debate, and challenge each other on what the best approach is. Then, at the end of that meeting, to determine exactly what you’re going to achieve prior to the next regular, consistent one-on-one get together.

Keep Out

The fourth and final piece of the pillar is to simply keep out of their way.  Let them do their jobs and you do yours.

I've seen many situations where sales leaders have a very hands-on micro-management approach to their sales team.  Or the sales leader is so busy with internal initiatives and other tasks, they limit their time with salespeople to sales team meetings.  Either approach will impact company sales negatively.    

They don't want a micromanager. I don't want a micromanager. You don't want a micromanager.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, where the sales leader is not engaged regularly with each salesperson, the sales team becomes rudderless.  The team begins to lose sight of their common goals. Unanswered questions become a source of frustration. The lack of positive reinforcement of good behaviors erodes individual and sales team confidence.  

The key to balancing between micromanaging and hands-off approaches to sales management and leadership is ensuring that the P, E, and R (Preparation, Expectations, and Review) of the PERK model have been effectively implemented for each salesperson.  Then, it’s a simple matter of completing weekly one-on-one sales meetings consistently.   

Effective sales leadership is about supporting each salesperson in ways that complement their unique personal communication styles, and individual motivators.  The sales leader will also support their individual sales situations, sales skills levels, and products and services knowledge. No two people are the same and sales leaders that respect and recognize the differences and then conscientiously adapt their management and leadership to the individual, will produce greater sales results for their companies. 

PERK - In Summary

If you hired the right people, you provided them with the resources and tools and training to be successful (Preparation), you've given that clear direction of what is expected of them and how they're going to get there (Expectations), and you and that salesperson are reviewing the plan regularly (Review)— then you don't need to get in their way (Keep out of the way). Let them do their thing! 

Want to remember the key points of PERK?
Download this useful checklist.
 

Print it out, hang it up, or just keep it in a folder of useful reference info.

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