Great sales leaders demonstrate three traits consistently:
- They are great sellers
- They are great coaches
- They are great operators
Leaders are the best at selling, but typically fall short on coaching and operating.
While sales coaching is a popular topic, the mechanics of sales operations is less talked about.
The good news is, of these three traits, "operating" is the easiest to learn and most straight forward to implement. It supports sales coaching by structuring team interactions and progress.
If you have a structured series of team and one-on-one interactions that advance meeting number and organization goals, you are an effective operator.
Here is a 7-point checklist to utilize for an honest grade on sales team operation. How does your management cadence stack up?
- Do you execute a methodical series of events that you’ve scheduled in advance? This is timed for tracking the team’s key performance metrics. This consistency allows you to be proactive instead of reactive.
Example: Your team’s calendars have annual, quarterly, and monthly/weekly meetings booked in advance. Territory Plan reviews are booked at the beginning of the year; pipeline and forecast calls alternate in sequence.
- Are all team members aware of the cadence and know what’s expected of them? They take preparatory or corrective action in advance. Because of your disciplined consistency, they continuously improve and meet/exceed expectations.
Example: Reps attend account review meetings with completed plans. Reps come to deal review meetings with win plans that properly address the situation.
- Does your cadence include reviews and follow-ups in addition to planning meetings? Don’t expect account plans to be “works of art”. Expect these plans to be continuously edited by team updates and adjustments.
Example: Territory and account planning aren't "one and done" exercises. You must follow up on goals and actions established with a regular cadence, like in QBRs.
- Have you established outcomes and questions for each cadence event? This is to better understand challenging deals, accounts, or reps. Corrective action must be followed to get things back on track.
Example: In pipeline or sales activity reviews, plan on asking precise questions that help identify when ineffective seller practice. Then, discuss questioning strategies to qualify.
- Do you approach each meeting or review with desired behaviors in mind? You capitalize on coaching moments, instill accountability, and follow up to ensure progress.
Example: Your cadence includes scheduled ride-alongs with reps. This is where a coaching discussion follows each customer meeting to reinforce strengths and identify improvement areas.
- Do you standardize the use of relevant planning tools across your team? If everyone uses the same template, you don’t have to adjust coaching to different tools. You can make apples-to-apples comparisons.
Example: You provide reps with territory and account plan templates that aid in annual planning discussions and quarterly follow-up.
- Are cadence events are supported by data and are tracked in your CRM?
Example: Account plans or sales call plans are stored in CRM for easy reference during or after account review meetings. Pipeline reports are used for pipeline calls.
Front Line Sales Manager Impact
A management cadence that meets this criterion enables front line sales managers to:
- Efficiently and effectively understand their business
- Coach to improve selling skills
- Make decisions that improves sales performance
That said, many front-line managers have neither the time nor knowledge to design and execute management cadence. Even if they do, it’s unlikely to remain consistent from manager to manager.
If you’re a senior leader, designing a management cadence and implementing it with your front-line managers is important. By doing so, you impact sales performance, assist in managers’ professional growth, and increase operation.
When all managers move in the same direction, sharing expectations and understanding, it’s positive. It builds rapport top-down, keeps communication open, and helps leaders track issues.
Sales Management Cadence Elements
Typical elements leaders incorporate in their management cadence include:
- Territory Plan Reviews
- Account Plan Reviews
- Quarterly Business Reviews
- Pipeline Reviews
- Forecast Calls
- Team Meetings
- Opportunity/Deal Reviews
- Sales Call Planning Meetings
- Field Visits/Ride-Alongs
While leaders implement majority of these activities, too often it is in reactive fashion instead of proactive fashion. Successful outcomes rely on the proactiveness. In our work, we create custom sales leader playbooks that document an entire sales management cadence.
We recommend codifying your sales team's operations in a similar fashion. For each cadence, document key elements such as purpose, objectives, desired outcomes, meeting agendas, probing questions, supporting skills/behaviors, potential corrective actions, follow-up activities, and responsibilities.
Operating proficiently like this defines great sales leaders. So, what grade did your sales management cadence make?
Contact us to learn more about establishing a system and platform for your sales managers to effectively lead their teams.
About The Author
Masami combines the market focus and execution of a Marketing VP with the critical, data-driven orientation of a seasoned strategist. Masami is passionate about the integration of sales and marketing and helps organizations take a disciplined approach to defining sales and marketing process and enabling technologies. Over the last 25 years, Masami has served as a strategy consultant and marketing leader across Fortune 500 to start-up environments.