Sales – It’s hard work making it look so easy
The strategic role of HR!

Should you focus on the “urgent”, or the “important” ?

As a senior business leader, you will be all too familiar with the constant battle to deliver short term financial results, whilst simultaneously developing a longer term, more strategic growth strategy.

• One requires a short term, tactical focus, whilst the other requires a longer term, more strategic focus.
• One is easier to measure, and has more immediacy, whilst the other requires great vision and investment of time.
• One is a scenario where you tend to be “reactive”, whilst the other is a scenario where you tend to be more “proactive”.
• One is “urgent” – your immediate survival relies on it, whilst the other is more “important” – your organisations’ future relies on it.

So how do you decide where to spend your time ?

The vast majority of CxO’s would much prefer to be focussing their attention on the “future”, but find themselves dragged inexorably into fire-fighting, and delivering short term results, largely out of necessity.

Nowhere is this incongruity better illustrated, than in the world of Sales.

On the one hand, you are looking for your Sales Director to deliver you results reliably, predictably and consistently. Week in week out, month in month out, year in year out.

On the other hand, you are looking for your Sales Director, along with his / her senior sales people, to be building relationships, influencing, developing accounts, creating a pipeline of opportunities and qualifying them robustly, in order to create the “luxury of choice”, and deliver next year’s results.

The good news is that this is entirely achievable. The top performers do it all the time.

The bad news is that the vast majority of Sales Directors and Sales people simply do not spend sufficient time planning for next year, they focus all of their time on this week, or this month.

And the impact on you ?

It’s a vicious circle – inevitably, when results are not as good as required, you are compelled to take action, you become embroiled in trying to fix short term sales problems, and you are unable to devote the time you’d like to longer term strategic planning.

You are forced to focus your time on the “urgent”, rather than the “important”.

So, the obvious question is…………”why don’t sales people invest the appropriate amount of time in planning for next year” ?

At the risk of being controversial, it’s probably down to you, because the fact is “You get what you inspect, not what you expect”

Sales people and Sales Directors have a tendency to deliver what they think is important to their CxO, so if you find yourself asking Sales Directors “has this deal happened yet”, or “when will we get the order”, you are sending a very clear message that you are interested in the short term results. It also suggests that you have little confidence in their ability to deliver, as you keep checking up on them, when your Sales Management Process should achieve this for you.

Conversely, asking Sales Directors “can you show me the plan to grow our biggest customer by 50%”, or “what progress are we making in developing account xyz”, will send a very clear message that you are focussed on the future. It will also suggest that you trust them to deliver this year’s number – after all, that’s their job.

If you are interested in understanding how world class sales organisations achieve a balance between delivering short term results, and investing time planning for the future, freeing their CxO’s to focus on the “important” (rather than the “urgent”), please call me on my personal mobile 07816 874590, or e-mail me [email protected] with your contact details, and I will call you back.

Mike Wilkinson

Managing Director

Advanced Selling Skills Academy.

Mike Wilkinson
Mike Wilkinson
Managing Director Advance - Creators of SCOTSMAN®