Despite spending 30+ years talking to and working with sales leaders in organizations both big and small, I always go in curious. And this curiosity has helped me learn a lot about leadership. One thing I’ve learned is that a leader’s commitment to change can make or break the success of a large-scale sales initiative.
There are themes that begin to emerge within an organization when leadership has made a commitment to change. That commitment shows up early when organizations are aligned to drive long-term success.
Here are the top three signals I see from sales leaders who want to drive success of a large-scale sales initiative:
1. An Honest Assessment of Time and Resources
Commitment to change means an honest assessment of whether your organization needs help to execute your sales initiative.
Sales transformation is a big commitment. It takes time and frankly, a lot of guts. Many organizations know what to do and, for the most part, they know how to do it. But for multiple reasons, they may need to accelerate their time frame for achieving revenue results.
Sales leaders have a big job to do and not much time to do it in. The most recent research shows that the average tenure for a SVP has decreased from 26 months to 19 months. (Source: GONG) That’s a narrow time frame to make a big impact.
In some instances, investors might be driving to an exit strategy. Other times, a company might not want to risk losing their leadership position in the marketplace by spreading their resources too thin. Whatever the reason, a good leader will conduct an honest assessment early in the process and exercise the option for help if they need it.
Every organization has its own DNA, its own set of challenges. Early in the process, it’s important to understand where you are right now. A leader’s best chances for achieving a desired “future state” comes from defining and understanding what your current state is. Be genuine in your efforts to define the situation.
Ask your team the hard questions:
Where is the best place to start?
Where are the places that we should avoid because there's no need to do anything?
Where can we actually build on something?
The good news is that you’ll rarely have a situation where a company is so completely broken that starting from scratch and redoing everything will be the solution. If the leadership team takes an honest inventory to define what’s working well for your company, then it’s easier to prioritize and stay laser-focused on changing the things that aren’t.
3. A Clear Vision of Your Future State
Championing a successful sales initiative requires leaders to paint a clear vision for the future. The buy-in from a sales leader has to go much farther than saying “Hey, I want my sales people to be more productive. I want them to sell more.”
Of course, you do. We all do, right?
In my view, the single most important thing that a sales leader can do on the front end of a sales initiative is to define a clear vision of what the future state looks like. Without that vision and the ability to paint the picture for others in your organization, you’ll never be able to champion a successful sales initiative. The clearer the picture that leaders can paint for themselves and others in the organization, the better they’ll be able to align behind achieving it successfully.