Working in Sales Force Effectiveness Consulting allows me to observe and engage in many business’s sales operations from a perspective that is downright incredible. On a daily basis I get the opportunity to interact with a wide variety of business leaders: Board Members, CEOs, CFOs, CSOs, CMOs, you name it. And also as a result of working in SFE Consulting, I’m frequently asked, “What do we at Sales Benchmark Index see that separates the greatest sales leaders from the rest of the pack?”
What’s my answer?
After interacting with these leaders day in and day out, there is one thing I’ve consistently seen that separates Average Performing Sales Leaders vs. High Performing Sales Leaders – their Sales Cadence.
You might be wondering what I mean by this, as Sales Cadence (like many other business terms) can mean a million different things. What I’m referring to specifically is the cadence in which they operate, manage time, and the flow of information between themselves and their Sales Team.
Let me give you some examples:
Leader #1 (Average Leader). Will struggle to maintain a schedule, or any type of regularity around a schedule. He most likely has great intentions of creating and maintaining a proper Sales Cadence, but he is unable to keep to it for more than a few weeks before the structure begins to fall apart. It will most likely look something like this:
- Pipeline Calls are made “every so often.” They tend to be either infrequent, sporadic, or both. Inadvertently creates tremendous amounts of extra work for all involved.
- Forecast calls are performed to make sure you’re “close” to the projection. They are also inconsistent. Again- creates tremendous amounts of extra work for all that are involved, or those that are required to participate.
- Sales Management calls are planned and scheduled to be performed weekly, but oftentimes they are rescheduled and not followed up on until the following week, or later.
- Accountability – Promises are made from both parties, but lack of mutual accountability, follow-up and follow through make the commitments meaningless.
Leader #2 (Great Leader). His Sales Cadence will be consistent, predictable, and will have a well-defined purpose.
- Pipeline Calls are made weekly. As a result, this Sales Leader knows the status of all the major accounts in the Pipeline, as well as if there are any promising opportunities to look forward to down the road.
- Forecasting calls are opposite weeks of the Pipeline calls in order to track Quarter To Date and/or Year To Date progress. Since this Sales Leader is already aware of the status of the Pipeline, forecasting calls become easier. Furthermore, he is kept abreast of any Sales Reps who are falling behind and can act upon these situations accordingly.
- Sales Management calls are also made weekly. This allows the Sales Leader to check in on his Sales Team and do all that he can to help improve their performance.
A Sales Cadence can seem troublesome or like just another “hassle” at first. But, believe me, it’s not.
Take the analogy of rowing a boat. It can be such a struggle – as you fight choppy waters, you can’t keep the boat straight, and your progress is stunted. The key is just to find the right rhythm. Once you find that rhythm, the momentum of your entire team will increase, and you all ride smoothly. All of a sudden you realize that you’re moving at 100 mph, but it feels effortless. All that you notice now is the cool breeze on your face and all the other teams in your wake.
Over the next few weeks, I will be breaking out the importance of the Sales Cadence, the different stages and levels of it, and some of the best practices that can help you find that rhythm that gets your sales team humming like a well-oiled machine.
For now, begin your Sales Cadence journey by downloading the June 2012 Sales Cadence Calendar here. This will get you started and off on the right foot.
Matt Sharrers’ e-book “Promoted to VP Sales: The Year 1 Toolkit” does an incredible job articulating many of the critical components needed to make it past the 18 month CSO life expectancy mark. If you haven’t read it yet, it’s a must read.