Sales Leaders and Their Leaders
This three-part series on the sales management process began with Part I: Why Sales Leaders Need to Craft and Control It and Part II: Team Cadence Builds Accountability and Results. Now, I’ll address the remaining, critical element of communicating upward by scheduling one-on-one reviews with senior leaders.
There are many reasons for maintaining regular and scheduled one-on-one meetings with your senior leader. Within the hierarchy of your organization, your leader is an essential link to the next higher levels of management, often to the C-suite itself. Rule of thumb is to never surprise your boss, positively or negatively; but, beyond that guidance, you need to keep them informed of your plans, your progress, and how you are addressing any challenges. Think of your leader as your champion, representing your work and value to higher levels of the organization. At the same time, your leader is your conduit to those higher levels, funneling key information from above and providing key updates on initiatives back to you.
One-on-one meetings allow you to have a consistent touch point in which you can convey the status of each component involved in the sales management process. Your updates should be comprehensive, spanning what your team has accomplished since the last meeting, pipeline results, and activities underway that will lead to future results and provide value.
Meetings provide a framework to discuss how you are managing your team, what your people do, where they are focusing their energies, and the progression or obstacles facing opportunities in the pipeline. You should discuss your strategy, what you are doing in account planning and why, and the kind of impact that you are seeing as a result.
Your direct leader should leave these meetings with a clear understanding of the workings of your team while leaving you with worthwhile feedback and coaching to improve the overall effort.
Another important senior audience to meet with regularly, and individually, is the functional leaders within the organization: Operations, Contracts, Marketing, Project Implementation, New Business Development, Consulting, or whichever departments or functions form the basis of your company’s organization.
Collaborating with these leaders allows you to gain greater insights into the impact that you make and future opportunities. In reviewing current and upcoming projects, you can solicit feedback and gain a broader perspective from that leader’s functional space. You may also uncover opportunities to work together or to support one another’s work in new ways. As much as you need to convey your goals and strategies, you also need to understand what your colleagues are driving toward in their areas. Then, you can bring these insights back to your team and incorporate them into your strategy.
The key to a successful sales management process is communication — with your sales professionals, sales leaders, and functional leaders across the company. The ultimate goal is to establish a consistent and collaborative platform that supports the ongoing sharing of information and insights, keeping everyone in the loop, and recognizing those who demonstrate the right behaviors to have the desired impact on sales success.
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