If you’re in senior management and wondering how to be effective, especially for your sales department, you’re not alone.
This article is for C-level or executive level management, with a broad scope of authority and multiple layers of management. The C-Suite, traditionally CEO, COO, and CFO—provides guidance to direct reports. This might include VP of Sales, VP of Operations, VP of Marketing, and VP of Human Resources. Each of these in turn could have a Director-level manager reporting to them.
How Senior Management Works with Sales
So, what’s your role?
It should not involve doing the work for your people. Don’t laugh, but I’ve come across several people in senior management that think they should provide all the answers.
Let your people do the heavy lifting. Make sure they set goals and that they are clear and achievable. You’ll also want everyone in your organization to have the necessary tools to get the job done.
Senior management is typically focused on planning, setting direction, receiving status updates, and righting the ship when it’s off course.
Think about these 8 points when you want to impact selling in your company.
Plan and budget
Senior management aligns their teams with the organization’s corporate strategy. For example: growing organically, selling new products, expanding in new territories, and competing in new markets.
Meet with your managers and discuss corporate strategy on a regular basis. Help them translate the strategy to their own direct reports.
Budgeting and forecasting
Make sure you oversee budgeting and forecasting, especially within the sales department.
Help your head of sales develop solid financial principles. Include forecasting strategic account volumes, revenue mixes by product and service lines, sales pipeline, transaction sizes, and revenue by salesperson.
Also include best practices for creating and tracking a departmental budget. Help people understand things like leasing terms and equipment depreciation, or any other factors that apply to your industry.
Help your team set and track KPIs (key performance indicators). Keep track of results and make sure corrective adjustments are made along the way.
Some KPIs that apply to sales include:
- Referral Requests
- Leads to Opportunities conversion
- Phone Calls
- Follow Up Emails
- Customer Testimonials
- Case studies
Your role in senior management includes aligning sales, marketing, and finance with the correct compensation incentives.
Make sure the comp plan motivates behavior that’s in line with the company’s objectives. Consider bonuses that not only reward individuals, but also team performance across the entire organization. In other words: if the organization as a whole hits or exceeds specific targets, reward all those involved. This might include awarding bonuses to people from sales, marketing, as well as operations.
It’s very important to make sure there is collaboration among departments. In your role in senior management, you have the ability to resolve problems and personality clashes quickly and cleanly. However, it’s better to prevent clashes from happening in the first place. So, if you want to be proactive, create a peer mentoring and coaching program.
Coaches are selected by senior management in conjunction with mid-level management.
A good coach candidate is generally someone who wants to develop their leadership ability and coaching skills. This person should have the desire and ability to impact people to improve. They should also earn the respect of their peers.
Coaches commit to meeting on a recurring basis with each coachee. The coach helps improve performance and adhesion to the organization’s proprietary processes and methods, such as a Sales PlayBook. Any issues brought by coaches to their managers that aren’t handled appropriately should be addressed by you in senior management.
Senior management should provide resources
Below are some ways that senior management can provide resources.
Implement a cloud-based Sales PlayBook for new and existing employees. That way the entire team will understand your organization’s best practices for sales, sales management, and marketing–which are driven by the PlayBook. Make sure your VP of Sales keeps it up to date and ensures that everyone is using it.
Implement a robust and powerful CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool. If you already have a CRM, enhance it to work with marketing and operations. This includes tracking inbound leads and complex proposals that the operations team helps develop. Make sure the CRM is used to track key sales performance indicators as well.
With your guidance, your sales VP should train everyone on the best way to use and leverage these sales tools.
Everyone should know how to identify, select, and interview new hire candidates. I suggest you employ a robust process for hiring that includes tools, templates, and procedures.
In many cases, job candidates are vetted by people outside of the specific department before they are hired. Senior management can oversee efficient coordination between department heads.
Your hiring process should include:
- Job descriptions and job postings – these describe the successful fulfillment of the job and act as templates for hiring managers
- Interview scorecards provide interview questions and a way to rank the responses. They can use these when comparing notes with other people who are involved in the interviewing process
- Chemistry check – a group interview for candidates to talk about themselves. People can ask and answer questions, and everyone can judge how good a fit this person is for the organization
This is a key focus of senior management.
Ensure that you maintain a healthy culture. Develop your people’s management and leadership skills. Take the time to be a mentor to them. Make sure that people are challenging their employees to continue to grow. Make sure decision making is happening quickly and efficiency without going through layers of bureaucracy.
Focus on the big picture
Make sure the company’s mission, vision, and strategy is translated into execution. Spot and get ahead of industry trends by leveraging social media, for example.
Focus on gathering good data, empowering others to make decisions, and letting people execute.
Worry less about the day to day tactical issues.
Leverage your relationships
Senior management should tap into their personal networks and provide introductions for their managers to act on.
Be an ambassador to the company’s partners and advocates. Talk with them about larger issues and identify opportunities for your managers and their salespeople to follow up on. This is a good way for senior management to get a pulse on the market.
Deliver great customer service
You will soon recognize that customer service isn’t the responsibility of just one person or even one team.
Senior management understands that the customer is at the center of the company. Everyone and anyone should understand that customers appreciate good service no matter where it comes from. Senior management should drive this message down to all the employees in their organizations.
Focus on performance
Ensure that procedures for conducting performance reviews are executed on a timely basis. These happen with your direct reports, as well as theirs. Senior management can provide input, especially when determining people’s adherence to company values and contribution to a healthy corporate culture.
Position reviews as growth opportunities, not to discipline people or to focus on that they did incorrectly. This should have occurred at the time of an infringement. Make sure that every employee has the freedom to give straight and honest feedback to their supervisor, including you in senior management. Reviews are a two-way street.
These tips and tactics should get you on your way to performing more successfully in your senior management role. Please leave me a comment if you’d like to add your own thoughts.