CEO Resources

Your team brings sales problems to you every month, quarter, and year. Why? They want you to give them money and people to solve these problems. You could spend all of your time reacting to your sales team. You could also go broke. If you funded, and staffed all, a profit will become a loss.

 

This post seeks to help you answer a simple, yet powerful, question:

Is this really an issue?”

 

Here is a screening tool. When your team brings you a sales problem, evaluate it with this tool. The tool has 10 yes/no questions. A yes response gets awarded +10 points. A no response gets 0 points. A total score of 50 or above means this sales problem warrants further investigation. A total score below 50 means this sales problem should be ignored.  It is noise. 

 

Why you should care?

Any leadership team can arrive at a long list of areas to improve upon. Even best-in-class sales teams have dozens of ways in which they can get better. The question is not “Can you improve?” The question is “Where are you going to improve to achieve the greatest benefit?”

 

A client of mine recently stated to me: “Becoming a world-class sales force is not our goal. Our goal is to be world class in specific areas. The areas that will lead to significantly better financial results.”

 

You need to prioritize which sales problems warrant further investigation. The 10 questions in this tool can help. 

 

The answers to these questions will inform you. The cost-benefit tradeoffs associated with solving the sales problem will become visible. You can develop financial models to quantify the incremental revenue and costs, if needed. This tool is used before spreadsheets are built. It is meant to screen.

 

The first question of the ten is the most import. It asks if the sales problem persists, will you miss the number? Your team will likely not address this relationship explicitly. As a result, their recommended solutions do not directly support the most important opportunities. For example, your sales team will almost always lead with two solutions:

 

  • Sales compensation
  • Sales training

     

Sales leaders rely too heavily on comp and training to solve sales problems. Both are critically important. But, by themselves they are almost always insufficient to solve the identified sales problem.

 

To answer the question, “Is this really an issue?” focus only on rich sales problems. This will result in far more actionable solutions. For example, when asked for funds to train sales reps, ask for an objective. If you hear something like, “grow 20% in Enterprise Accounts in the US”, decline. These high level objectives do little to guide CEO decision making. When evaluating sales problems brought to you by your team, objectives must be by:

 

  • Market segment
  • Product
  • Territory
  • Root cause

     

An Example:

This worksheet helped a company prioritize which sales problems to tackle. The CEO was getting bombarded with request for funds from his team. The sales problems were because of rapid growth (0 to 100 million users).

 

sales problem priority

 

This worksheet presents the priorities. The workshop was attended by the CEO and his team.  It allowed a number of sales problems to be prioritized. In order to make the number, we need to address these problems: 

 

  1. The sales process was ineffective at cross selling in the Enterprise/Large segments. This was problematic for these two are the largest and most attractive markets.
  2. The sales force was too small to cover the mid-market segment. This was resulting in insufficient new logo acquisition. A big problem. New logo acquisition represented the most attractive revenue source in this segment. Excluding cross selling Enterprise, it is a more important revenue source than any other.

 

The CEO has concentrated his efforts on sales process and adding sales headcount.  He recognized if he did not, he would miss the number. The next time your team brings you a sales problem, ask yourself: Is this really an issue?”

 

Rely on this tool in this post to help you answer it.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Greg Alexander

Leads the firm's focus on the CEO’s role in accelerating revenue growth by getting the product team, the marketing department, and the sales organization into strategic alignment.
Learn more about Greg Alexander >

Greg is the host of The SBI Podcast, the most listened to sales and marketing podcast on the internet.

 

He is the host of SBI TV, a monthly television program broadcast on the internet featuring top B2B sales and marketing leader sharing their strategies to grow revenues.

 

Greg is the Editor-in-Chief of The SBI Magazine, the leading B2B publication focused on sales and marketing effectiveness.

 

He is the author of two critically acclaimed books Topgrading for Sales and Making the Number.

 

Greg has authored over 100 articles on SBI’s award winning blog, The SBI Blog.

 

He graduated from The University of Massachusetts Amherst with a BA in English and received his MBA from Georgia Tech.

 

Video:

 

Transforming the Sales Organization inside Fortune 500 Companies

Greg Alexander and John Gleason, Chief Sales Officer of Ryder, talk about the unique challenges of transforming a sales team inside of very large enterprises.

 

A Better Way to Structure Your Sales Force

Greg Alexander and Tony Capucille, Chief Sales Officer at Heartland Payment Systems, discuss the pros and cons of the 7 B2B sales organizational models.

 

Build a team of A Players Inside the Sales Organization

Greg Alexander and Todd Cione, Chief Revenue Officer at Rackspace, talk about hiring, onboarding, and developing exceptional sales talent.

 

Articles

 

Fill Every Role on Your Team with an A Player

In this article, Greg Alexander makes the case for applying the TopGrading methodology to the sales team, and outlines how to do so.

 

What CEOs Need to Know About Their Marketing Strategies

In this article, Greg Alexander and Rashid Skaf, CEO of AMX, discuss the role the CEO plays in crafting a company’s marketing strategy.

 

What CEOs are Looking for in a Sales Leader

In this article, Greg Alexander and George Norton, leader of Heidrick & Struggles Chief Sales Officer practice, discuss what CEOs need in the chief sales officer role.

Read full bio >