As they grow and hire sales people, many CEOs become fearful of their sales team. They don’t know how to manage them, don’t understand how they do what they do, worry that a key sales person will leave and take business along, don’t know how to compensate them, and worry whether they are paying too much. For their part, many sales teams are happy to leave that CEO in the dark!
Typically in a small company, the sales team owns all the knowledge about sales. But often, the small company sales person or people start out as transactional sales people, using traditional methods that they’ve learned, primarily to perfect their personal sales approach and methodology. And this is hard to dislodge for more rapid growth.
The CEO senses that something is missing and is hungry for more and better results, but does not know what to do. Here are five reasons why there’s such a mismatch in expectations:
5. No process. Sales is usually one of the very last “processes” to be deliberately designed in a growing company. It is left to the sales team to figure out their approach. Usually this leaves them out of the loop with operations and leaves everyone out of the loop with them. Their approach is not strategic or repeatable. Each sales person, in fact, may approach the job very differently from the others.
4. Poor data. If there’s no process, rarely is there any reliable data. They can estimate but cannot tell you a closing percentage, a cost of sale, an average deal size, or the association of a particular step in the sales process with the probability of a sale.
3. Unreliable predictions. Because there is little reliable data, it is impossible to predict what sales will be for a given quarter or year. Predictions are done blindly, based on hope or need or the CEOs demands rather than previous experience or a specific new process. Therefore, the expectation for sales productivity may be way out of whack–far to high or far too low.
2. Rock Stars. Historically, the great salespeople cultivate their “rock star” status. They are the road warriors, the relationship kings and queens, the company saviors. Against all odds, they keep their company afloat. They don’t have time to fill out forms or manage CRMs–they need to get out there and sell!
1. “Magic.” In the end, all of this appears to be “magic” to the CEO or to anyone else on the outside looking in. The CEO is afraid to push, to ask hard questions, or to demand a better understanding of what is going on. Convinced that salespeople have a certain magic, the CEO gives in to it and just goes on losing sleep over sales.
I am very pro-sales. In this circumstance, I am not blaming the sales team, simply reporting what I have observed. It’s a company-wide issue, not a sales issue. There are solutions, based on collaborative team work, and I will write about them tomorrow.
Meantime, do you have any sales fears? Does my analysis seem right to you or would you take issue? Please do post a comment!