High Peak Financial
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Blog

This blog is written by Austin Conner and covers a mix of business topics that interest me.

I am a contract CFO/financial consultant and I work with with a number of business models and industries: recurring revenue (SaaS - B2B and B2C, ecommerce subscription, membership, consumer products), paid apps (edtech, fitness), internet advertising and traditional ecommerce/retail.


Sales Action Framework

After reading Mike Weinberg’s book Sales Management. Simplified. (2015), I wanted to pass along a framework to help teams become more effective at selling.  Please note that it is assumed that your company has moved beyond the phase of determining “product/market” fit, and is now focused on how to build a replicable, scalable sales process rather than how to penetrate new industry verticals.  The following guide is meant to promote a better functioning sales team through active reflection and discussion.  These questions could also be used to facilitate an open discussion among executives, which may help in directing resources more strategically and supporting the sales team to identify and address gaps.

I liked how the book broke down the sales management framework into three fundamental groupings, and this guide will be organized the same way:

1.     Sales Leadership and Culture

2.     Talent Management

3.     Sales Process

Sales Leadership and Culture

Sales leadership and culture is first because it is so critical to a business’s sales success.  This area defines the team’s principles and how people work and act to create a competitive advantage.

1.     What does it feel like to be part of the sales team?

2.     What are the shared attitudes? Eg. “Sales. Is. About. Results. Period.”

3.     What does accountability look like and is it translating into a high-performance culture?

4.     Are team members laser-focused on goals and results? How do you know? If they are not, what is distracting their focus?

5.     Are sales team meetings valuable?  Do salespeople leave those meetings better equipped and energized?

6.     Do members of the sales team feel supported, valued and appreciated?

7.     Does the existing compensation plan make sense and does it drive the desired behaviors and results?

8.     In what ways does the sales leader put his fingerprints on the team?

9.     How much of sales leader’s time is devoted to non-sales activities, account management and executive and administrative burdens?

10. What is the level of intensity and passion of team members?

The book also provided 2 simple 1:1 questions for a sales manager to ask the account executive (AE) to create routine accountability.

1.     Please provide the new opportunities that are in your pipeline today that were not here when we met last month? Can you tell me what new opportunities you have identified or created in the past month?

2.     Please provide the existing opportunities that you moved forward in the sales process since we reviewed your pipeline together last week?

Talent Management

This area deals with having the right people in the right roles. In addition, it encouraged building a process for remediating and replacing underperformers (ie. coach up or coach out).

1.     Who are the best “hunters” (new sales)? These team members are often risk-oriented, resilient, able to take rejection, and possess a high drive and goal-oriented attitude.

2.     Who are the best “zookeepers” (account management)? This type of person tends to be highly relational and likable as well as service oriented and reliable.

3.     Can your “zookeeper” be a successful “hunter”?

4.     How can we maximize the impact of account execs? How can we maximize the amount of time they get to spend hunting?

5.     What is the current process for building high-performance, result-focused culture? 

a.     “Hire slow. Fire fast.” Evaluate in months not quarters.

b.     “Hire for the process, not the person.” Choose an AE that can fit into the company’s process rather than one with an extensive rolodex

Sales Process

The sales process is the system of steps that can be repeated to convert a prospect into a customer.

1.     How do you determine whether a person on your team will make it and be successful at selling?

2.     Do you need to spend more time training the team? Are AEs problem solvers and value creators?

3.     How are you collecting data? What metrics are you most focused on improving?

4.     How is your sales team staying ahead of the curve? Are potential buyers learning, growing and adapting faster than the sales team?

5.     Has each AE put their sales goals in writing, ie. how they plan to hit quota?