Effective growth CEOs can balance working on short-term sales tactics and long-term business strategies. Growing the company means having time to focus on strategic business objectives like:
- Acquiring new companies
- Developing new products
- Penetrating new markets
- Raising additional capital
We recently interviewed a number of CEOs. A theme emerged around how much time to spend “in” sales tactics. There is constant focus on improving employee productivity. But, the CEO gets lost in the shuffle and neglects to optimize his own time.
Why is this? A fear the team isn’t good enough. When the CEO worries about his team’s abilities, he ends up in the weeds.
If you act as the de-facto VP of sales, you’re working in the business. Perhaps you are short on leadership resources. Maybe the current sales leader isn’t your long-term player.
You can only add management if it frees you up to work on the business strategy. The risk is making the wrong move. If you add a $300K resource and you’re still tied up in tactics, what’s the point?
A Tool for You
Hiring someone will free up your time. But first, you have to know what you’re “freeing up.” Download the CEO’s Time Management Tool to get started. Here’s how to use it:
- In row 2, input your goal hours per week
- In rows 4-5, define the buckets where you spend your time. I’ve inserted People, Products, Processes, BD and Admin for you.
- In row 15, select your time goal for each bucket
- Track your time in 15-30 minute increments throughout the day
- Do this every day for 2 weeks
Tip: Populate throughout the day, not at the end of the day. You won’t remember where you spent your time by the end of the day.
You are looking for large chunks of time spent on tactical activities. Remember, the goal is to shift sales tactics off your plate to lift your strategic focus. Compare actual time spent with your goals. Look for areas of imbalance. These are the problem areas you need to address.
For example, you set a goal to spend 15 hours per week in the sales bucket. At the completion of the exercise, you’re averaging 25. Why?
Perhaps your sales leader isn’t good enough. It’s causing you to get involved. Maybe you don’t have enough sales leaders. The ones in the role are stretched and you’re parachuting in to help. The value of this exercise is bringing these issues to light so you can solve them.
The time management exercise has brought clarity to the problem. Your productivity killers must be solved by adding a new resource.
Here are 5 things you can do to make this happen:
1. ‘A’ Player Scorecard – The qualities of your new resource must compliment you. Clear definitions of the core competencies will help you identify the right candidates.
Tip: Your detailed analysis on where your time goes will help with this.
2. Recruit – Search for candidates who fit your requirements. Stay focused on people who can absorb the tactical activities you’re relinquishing.
Tip: Focus outward-in when you recruit. Look through the candidate’s eyes first.
3. Hire – Your hiring process needs to provide certainty that you locate the right resource. Sales people are great talkers. Don’t be swayed by lip service.
Tip: Ways to modernize your hiring process can be found here.
4. Onboard – You have to effectively transfer the responsibilities you’re doing now to your new hire. Help prevent thrashing early on by providing them with focused training.
Tip: A plan to improve your onboarding process can be found here.
5. Compensation – Your incentive plan will help you attract the best talent. Don’t dust off old plans that failed to drive results in years’ past.
Tip: Ways to take control of your compensation planning can be found here.
Your time is too valuable to waste hours in the weeds on sales activities. Diagnose the root causes of the problem using the CEO Time Management Tool. Hire the right resource by following the above 5 steps. Improving your sales talent will allow you to focus on being the CEO who crushes the number.