I’m blessed to have developed a strong relationship with my fellow CEOs at sales training, consulting and advisory firms around the world. We chat at conferences, via email, and exchange notes quite often. There is one topic that we all unanimously see as high growth, and customers scrambling to level up – training/coaching for the Regional VP’s or Area VP’s of Sales.
Why? Simple, according to CSO Insights – in the average B2B complex sales organization, only 50% of sales professionals made quota in 2017.
This is exactly like a quote from John Wannamaker – “Half the money I spend in advertising is wasted, the trouble is I don’t know which half”.
In the recent CSO Insights – Sales Performance Study, <50% of all forecasted deals are NOT winning (Closed Loss, Closed No-Decision, etc.). You can’t honestly say that 50% of the world’s sales population is terrible at sales forecasting? Absolutely not. What you have, at a global level, is a poorly supported/trained/coached front-line sales ecosystem.
What are the core skills your RVP’s / AVP’s need for “leveling up” in 2019
1. Structured/Documented 1-on-1’s
If you’re a Chief Revenue Officer reading this, I’ll bet you “dollars to donuts” that you aren’t receiving an executive summary each week from your RVP’s. While you can see Current/Lagging Indicators in your CRM on sales data, there is no central system or communication process from your RVP’s each week.
- What questions are my RVP’s asking?
- What is their scorecard for success?
- What Red/Green flags are they looking for in key accounts?
- Where do they stand in terminating or adding headcount in a region?
Best-in-class companies have an executive summary template that ALL RVP’s use to summarize each seller + their region, on a weekly basis.
2. How to spot “Red Flags” with Leading Indicators and/or Competitive Risk
When I listen to 1-on-1’s hosted by core performing RVP’s, it sounds like two friends having a subjective conversation. There is no structure, and there are no TOUGH QUESTIONS. RVP’s don’t know how to ask specific questions to get to the heart of any issue in an account. Even if they know how to ask the questions, they don’t know how to correlate “the disease from the symptoms”. You need to teach RVP’s (who were all quota carrying sellers at one point), how to spot trouble in accounts BEFORE the seller can. RVP’s need to assume for an account NOT closing on its forecasted date, and help the seller spot the danger earlier. Coaching to monitor competitive risk is a key ingredient here.
3. Coaching to Activity Rigor
The only element of the sales process that a seller can control is the activity levels. Not opportunity creation, not closed won deals. ACTIVITIES! This simple, but often not measured/managed set of metrics is ALL that an RVP/AVP can coach towards. These leaders need to keep their team accountable for selecting enough accounts, planning enough accounts, engaging enough accounts, TO HIGHLY INFLUENCE metrics like opportunities and close won deals.
4. Onboarding Time – Payback Period
For any sales team in growth mode (or filling regional holes from churn), there is no more important responsibility by the RVP’s/AVP’s than to ensure that a new hire is in-market and profitable quickly! What most RVP’s/AVP’s don’t realize is that great onboarding coaching materials are developed in the field from existing sellers, designed as playbooks to replicate activities. No RVP/AVP should be onboarding with subjective gut-feel… they must be launching a prescriptive process.