How confident are you that your sales team can meet your KPIs this quarter?

If you’re like the 70% majority of sales managers, there’s some doubt in your mind.

Meeting key objectives and sales targets seems more unattainable by the day, but it doesn’t have to be. 

To meet objectives consistently, keep your salesforce satisfied and striving, and give senior leadership reports that have them singing your praises, you need one crucial thing: A sales leadership framework. 

This post will provide a step-by-step guide on how to lead by creating a sales leadership framework for your team. After reading, you’ll be ready to get your framework in place and start crushing your targets. 

The Importance of Building a Sales Leadership Framework 

Let’s begin by defining the central term here. What is a sales leadership framework? A sales leadership framework is the set of competencies in disciplines the sales leader pursues to reach their goals and targets.  

An effective framework will include a vision, a communication plan, a decision-making framework, an understanding of leadership styles and when they should be used, and accountability. These will vary by organization.

In any endeavor as complicated and complex as sales leadership, it's essential to have a framework that ensures that all necessary activities and outcomes are successfully pursued.

If you approach sales without an appropriate framework, your sales leaders will be dragged into every problem, challenge and issue. This reactive approach to Leading a sales force never produces the results the sales leader needs. the framework provides a way to be proactive and to stay focused on the most critical outcomes necessary to creating net new revenue.

Just like you expect your team to use a sales prospecting plan that produces results,  you need the structures that ensure you produce the right outcomes and the right amount at the right time.

I have worked with many companies that do not have a leadership framework. Often, the result is a pile-up of problems that could have been solved proactively with the right framework. That pile-up results in missed targets and stagnating—or worse, shrinking—revenue. 

You know you need a sales leadership framework: Now, allow me to explain how you can create a framework that works for your organization. 

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1. Identify Your Pillars 

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The first step to creating your framework is establishing what skills and traits are most vital to cultivate in your team. Most sales organizations and sales leaders underestimate the critical nature of increasing and improving their sales force's effectiveness. They were often able to create the opportunities they need, but because their win rates are so low, they struggled to grow their revenue. 

Sales leaders will encounter numerous distractions in their quest to improve their team’s results. The most detrimental of these distractions is believing that technology provides inefficiency that will allow the salesperson to grow revenue. In truth, an increase in revenue comes from greater effectiveness, not technologies.

When selecting your focuses, ensure that you choose no more than three. Limiting your focus to three different competencies gives you the best chance of increasing your team members’ effectiveness. If you attempt to tackle every B2B sales competency at once, your team will be confused about what's most important.

In my experience, the most important change concerning effectiveness is adopting a modern sales approach that eliminates much of the Legacy approaches strategies and tactics. 

The second most important competency is business acumen. It's challenging for a person who doesn't understand business to be a business advisor, but that's exactly what clients need today. They will buy from someone who offers them more help making a decision and producing better results.

Finally, even though few frameworks are available, sales managers and leaders must help their team understand how to build consensus inside their client companies.

Suppose you have a greater appetite for increasing and improving your effectiveness. In that case, the best place to start is accountability,  including the accountability of improving from week to week and quarter to quarter.

2. Determine What Success Looks Like 

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Next, you must determine what success looks like. Without an understanding of what you’re looking to achieve, you’ll have difficulty determining whether your framework works for your team.

Because we measure our results in revenue, you know you have achieved success when your revenue equals or exceeds your quota and your targets. Unlike other parts of an organization, revenue is the main proof that you are successful for sales teams.

Your revenue growth is an essential sales metric that will tell a great deal of the story by itself. However, it isn’t the only metric you want to consider. You should also consider tracking each salesperson’s effectiveness by examining their ability to generate new opportunities. A sales force that is capable of creating and winning opportunities is an effective sales force. The greater their effectiveness, the larger and more strategic accounts they will be able to acquire for their enterprise.

If you want to use shorthand for effectiveness, you can look at the number of salespeople on your team who have reached their quota and their overall win rate. Quota attainment means your team is succeeding. Your team’s win rate suggests how effective they are. Most sales organizations could improve their results faster and with greater certainty by focusing on effectiveness.

Other elements you may choose to consider here are business acumen, negotiation, and leadership. 

Regardless of what you decide to track, you need to set the bar early to give you an idea of what you are striving for. 

3. Identify Key Skills

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Thirdly, you must ask yourself: What key skills or knowledge do my team need to reach our goals?

The skills your team needs to succeed in sales today start with their ability to gain commitments—in other words, their ability to close. But that isn’t the only skill your team will need.

Your team must also be consultative. This competency is more challenging because it requires the salesperson to provide advice and recommendations to their client. It's also vital that the sales force know how to resolve client concerns, as they will surely hear objections from their clients—especially about the buyer's journey

Another skill set your team must hone is their prospecting skills. No sales force ever reaches its goals without being good at prospecting something we can describe as the ability to create new opportunities. Your team must also have a high skill level when it comes to diagnosing and identifying the root cause of the client's problem, challenge, or opportunity. 

Strong salespeople ask the right questions. Those questions are powerful—questions that cause the client to recognize something about themselves, their challenge, and their future potential

The best way to identify skills associated with certain traits is to use a competency model that includes the character traits that lead to success in all human endeavors. without a competency model to assess your team, you are flying blind.

Looking at prospecting is the easiest way to think about linking skills and character traits. A salesperson who is effective at calling a client, trading value for time, and scheduling a meeting proves they can create new opportunities. 

However, without three additional character traits, even the best cold-calling salesperson will not produce results. The three traits are as follows:

  1. Self-Discipline: The person who can will themselves to do the work has an advantage over those who may be better at making a cold call because they simply outwork them.
  2. Initiative: A person must take action before action is necessary, and because we work against time, it is important for that person to do the work they need to do when they need to do it.
  3. Resourcefulness: Booking a meeting requires creativity and novelty. A strong salesperson must be resourceful. 

4. Implement a Training Program 

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Part of your effectiveness framework should include sales training. But not the type of training that you're thinking of. The kind of training most sales organizations use is what we call “check box training.” These one-day training sessions don’t provide the development most sales organizations need to truly grow. 

Instead, you need a long-term plan to develop your sales force both individually and collectively, and in as little as 30 minutes a week, you can help your team acquire the competencies they need to succeed

Training is vital for sales leadership but also for every single person on your sales team. When you invest in training, your team will be unstoppable. 

Example: In the past, Xerox trained its salespeople so well that every company looking for salespeople would immediately try to hire someone from Xerox, knowing they were well-trained and well-developed.

My online platform, the Sales Accelerator, provides the highest level of training for a modern sales force. The Accelerator takes an approach that allows your sales force to develop new skills over time.  This approach is what differentiates training from development. No one should be required to have perfect comprehension and retention after seeing content only once. When you kick check-box training to the curb and incorporate measures like my Accelerator, your team has a better chance of learning, retaining, and changing their behavior. 

5. Review Results and Optimize 

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After you’ve conducted training, your next step is to review your sales team’s performance on the skills you laid out in step one against the metrics you defined in step two.

Has your team improved? Have they improved enough? If not, you may need to consider optimizing your training or coaching efforts to get better results. 

It's important to recognize that different salespeople have different competencies. As a result, each individual on your team needs a development plan tailored to the competencies necessary to improve their results and increase their effectiveness. One size truly does fit one.

Sales Leadership Framework: Your Blueprint for Sales Success 

You don’t want your team to wing it regarding sales. You want them to be buttoned-up, prepared, and ready to create value for your clients.

The same is true for sales leaders. Your sales force is always going to be a reflection of your leadership. Because this is true, you need to model what you want your sales force to be. Using a framework will allow you to do this with less effort in greater results, and it's worth your time.

Training and development should be the cornerstone of your leadership framework because the greater your team’s effectiveness, the greater your results. It is a mistake to allow your sales force to maintain the same effectiveness over time, especially as B2B sales grow increasingly complex. 

The easiest way to get your team to hit the sales targets you need is to give them a blueprint for success. Check out my free resource, the Revenue Growth Blueprint, to get your team started on the right path today!

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Post by Anthony Iannarino on August 24, 2022
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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