Sales Leadership Challenges to Having a World Class Sales Force

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 18, 2013 @ 06:06 AM

World-Class Sales Organization.

We hear those words a lot.  Some companies aspire to it.  Others claim to be there already.  You are more likely to hear claims like those from a large enterprise, but you have better odds of actually finding it in a small-to-midsize company.

World-Class Sales Organization.

Some would say it's a description of a company's people.  Others would suggest it has more to do with results.  Many would say it's about the size of the sales force.  And a few would point to sales leadership and discipline.

World-Class Sales Organization.

The top team of sales strategists at my sales leadership consulting and training firm, Kurlan & Associates, set out to define what a world-class sales organization is and we developed this model.

World Class Sales Force

There is an important distinction to be made here.  At a large company, there could be one or more individuals responsible for each category in the model.  In a small business, one person (and sometimes fewer than that) may be responsible for all categories.  And in many companies, some of those categories are placed under the direction of people who aren't qualified  to lead them.  In other companies, there are huge gaps where some (or all) of one or more categories are missing.

Let's discuss the challenges of this model in a smaller company where there may be a half dozen salespeople reporting to one sales manager.  How is one person supposed to handle:

  • Sales Leadership 
  • Sales Architecture
  • Sales Infrastructure
  • Sales Talent Management
  • Sales Enablement
  • Sales Human Capital
Some of the help, which we provide in small and mid-market companies, occurs when some (or all) of these pieces are missing altogether, or when they have been undefined or improperly executed.
 
We are nearly halfway through 2013, so this is a good time to determine where the gaps exist in your sales organization and then deal with them.  It's not as important that you get it right, as it is that you have the above in place.  You can get them right over time.

Speaking of time, we're on the cusp of summer which begins on June 21 and it can't come quickly enough for me!  Nancy Bleak, author of Conversations That Sell, has published her 3rd Annual List of sales books you can bring to the beach.  We are proud and thankful that Nancy has chosen to include my best-seller, Baseline Selling - How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know about the Game of Baseball on her list.  We also encourage you to include Frank Belzer's terrific book, Sales Shift, on your summer reading list.
 
If you found this article helpful, you might find these articles on the subject of sales leadership helpful too:
 

Help is Here for Salespeople Who Find Themselves as the Underdogs

How Coyotes are at the Heart of Sales Motivation

What Percentage of Sales Managers Have the Necessary Coaching Skills?

Quadruple Dittos Motivate Your Sales Team to Achieve

Latest Debate Had Some Great Sales Leadership Examples

The Secret to Coaching Salespeople and Why It's So Scary 

The Conversation Sales Leaders Must Have with Salespeople

Connecting the Dots on Sales Management

Verne Harnish's Rant and 3 Sales Leadership Issues

The Most Important Sales Issues Heading into 2015

Keys to Improved Sales Performance - Part 4 of 4

The Real Problem with the Sales Profession and Sales Leadership

Why Sales Leaders and Salespeople Get Frustrated

Top 10 Sales Leadership Tips From 2013 - So Far

Top 5 Sales Leadership Articles of 2013 - So Far

How Much Sales Development Can Leadership Do In-House?

Sales Leadership Challenges to Having a World Class Sales Force

Sales Leadership Observations about Pipeline and Terminations

Sabermetrics for Sales Leadership - Projecting Sales Revenue

Disagreement Over Sales Leadership Best Practices?

The Sales Leadership Landscape - A Different Perspective

Are Sales Leaders More Receptive to Training Than Salespeople?

Sales Leaders Got These Issues All Wrong

Sales Strategy and Tactics - Thoughts from the Super Bowl

What Sales Leaders Don't Know About Ego and Empathy

Sales Leadership - a Balancing Act to Achieve Compliance and Quotas

Sales Leadership - It's Not About the Title

Sales Leadership - 6th of the 10 Kurlan Sales Management Functions

Sales and Sales Leadership Lessons from Lou Piniella and the Umpire

 

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leadership, Sales Force, sales enablement, sales architecture, world class sales organization, sales talent, top sales books, sales infrastructure, sales strategy

Startups and the Dilemma of the First Sales Hire

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Mar 10, 2011 @ 23:03 PM

When a company is ready to hire someone for its first sales role, they often face a big dilemma:

  • Should it be a salesperson?
  • Should it be a selling sales manager?
  • Should it be a selling Sales VP?

A salesperson could hit the phones and/or the pavement and generate some business fairly quickly, but won't be able to provide the strategic thinking that a VP would.  As a result, there won't be much focus on systems, processes or the best approach to the marketplace.

A sales manager, who could begin as a salesperson, should also be able to generate some revenue and transition back into sales management but this presents problems too.  At some point, the sales manager must stop selling to begin building a sales force and by then, the company cannot afford to lose the revenue being generated.  The sales manager, being more tactical than a strategic Sales VP, will also be challenged when it comes to systems, processes, market approach and strategy.

As we have already discussed, a VP provides the strategy and infrastructure the company will require, but typically comes from a corporate environment and won't have much desire to perform actual sales activity and sell.  Often, the revenue generating must wait until the VP hires salespeople and the early hires are almost always the wrong hires.  Why?  The type of salesperson who succeeded at the VP's prior companies may not succeed at this new company where they are likely to encounter significantly more resistance and may not be able to overcome it.

So who should a company choose as its first sales hire?

In my opinion, it doesn't cost that much more to hire a Sales VP AND a couple of salespeople.  In that way, the company gets its much needed infrastructure and strategy AND there are some salespeople attempting to generate revenue.  The company will likely replace all 3 sooner than expected, but they'll be off and running more effectively and efficiently than most companies ever do.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management, sales architecture, sales strategy, business start-up

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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