Most sales departments are very tactical. Managers spend most of their time on the urgent, not important tasks. Their focus is on putting out fires, rather than fire prevention. My belief is a good sales manager should strive for a 50/50 balance.
If a sales department is too tactical, there is a tendency for everything to be chaotic. Managers head off with a goal in mind—usually making budget—but they have no idea how to get there. The leader's life is ruled by putting out fires, making one decision after another with complete disregard to their strategy, if they even have one.
If a sales department is too strategic, there is a lot of pontificating with little action.
So how do you strike that balance and place the proper focus on sales strategy? Since lists are the way to get people’s attention, here is my feeble attempt at making a list. To have a more strategic sales approach, do the following:
- Annually spend one or two days offsite with key managers to determine what your strategy is: not how much but how you are going to achieve your goals, monetarily and otherwise.
- Quarterly spend half a day-to a day with key managers to make sure your strategy is on track and make any necessary adjustments.
- Weekly put an hour on your calendar in which computers, cell phones, and any other electronic device is turned off, your door is shut (or better still, away from the office) to just THINK.
- Daily communicate your strategy to your sellers in the way you conduct business and in the decisions you make.
- Hourly, with each decision, mentally ask yourself if this decision supports or enhances my core strategy.
For a quick assessment of how your team is doing overall, download 30 Provocative Questions.
Jim Thompson is a VP / Senior Consultant at The Center for Sales Strategy