Tag Archive for: Fractional VP Sales

How to Be a Great Boss: 6 Tips to Be an Effective Sales Leader

Written by Rob Malec

Any way you slice it, being a business owner is tough. The responsibilities and stress of keeping the ship on course and meeting payroll every week can be daunting. Doing this while maintaining an even keel and being an effective leader is no small feat. When it comes to how to be a great boss, there’s no big secret. But there are a few simple mindset tips to follow to help you stay on track…

6 Tips From a Fractional VP of Sales to Help You Be a More Effective Sales Leader


How to Be a Great Boss Tip #1: Keep Your Ego in Check

A healthy ego is required for long-term business success. It takes considerable self-confidence to transform an idea into a business and then nurture it in a way that leads to sustainable growth. However, bad things start to happen when this ego morphs into the realm of an “I am the boss, dammit!” approach.

When your ego is unchecked, staff become deferential and work to serve your ego more than the business or its customers. Team morale drops. At best, people feel uneasy, and at worst, they feel fearful.

I have dealt with business owners like this and have experienced first-hand the profound negative effects on staff when the boss’s ego runs loose. A good long look in the mirror is the simple test for business owners to determine where their ego falls on the continuum between self-confidence and “I am the boss, dammit!” exclamation.

How to Be a Great Boss Tip #2: Communication is Key…But the Right Amount at the Right Time

It is understood that there are many aspects of running a business that would not be appropriate to share with all staff (mergers, acquisitions, potential staff layoffs, new product launches, opening of new markets and the like are examples that come to mind).

However, I’ve experienced business owners who take the approach of leaving their people totally in the dark. In these situations, it’s very difficult for them to understand what the guardrails are for exercising their discretion as they execute on their duties and tasks each day.

I have observed business owners who took the opposite approach of telling staff too much, too early.  This left staff feeling very uneasy about the future – to the point of causing some of the top performers to leave the company.

To be an effective leader, you should build a thoughtful communication plan that lets your staff know what they need to know, when they need to know it.

How to Be a Great Boss Tip #3: Provide the Right Tools to Your Team

When asking a team to perform, the leader’s job is to provide the tools necessary. A carpenter without a hammer is hard-pressed to be productive. Similarly, a salesperson without a well-configured CRM is equally as hard-pressed to be productive.

Being thoughtful and including your team in conversations about what tools are required will exponentially increase job role efficiency and effectiveness. This does not mean that the tools need to be elaborate or expensive. On the contrary, frequently surveying the landscape of options and choosing sales tools that will meet the needs of the team is more effective than buying the “biggest and best” and presuming it will cure all ills.

How to Be a Great Boss Tip #4: Pay Your People What They Deserve

When speaking with business owners who experience high staff turnover, a common thread I have noticed is that they pay their people a salary that is below the market rate. Paying your people well does not mean overpaying.

Survey the market and be on par with or a little bit above the going rate for your various staff positions. If you need a way to fund pay increases, raise your prices. When it comes to employees, you get what you pay for and paying at or a bit above market rate will help you retain good performers. Of course, pay is not the only piece of the puzzle when it comes to retaining your top sales performers. But it is an important one and holding on to your top performers will save you money in the long haul.

How to Be a Great Boss Tip #5: Pay Your People on Time

In my work as a Fractional VP of Sales, I’ve seen more than a few companies that fail to pay out employee bonuses and commissions on time. Nothing annoys employees more than being paid late. The most effective business owners I have met have bonus programs that are simple to assess and affordable to implement. They are calculated and paid out on time, every time. Meeting this commitment to your staff is an overt way to say, “I value your contribution”.

How to Be a Great Boss Tip #6: Show Your Appreciation

I’ve never met anyone who has said, “I wish my boss would stop telling me what a great job I am doing!”. Showing gratitude and appreciation on a daily basis as you walk down the hall is a simple way for a business owner to spread the love and have employees know that they are valued. Institutionalizing this in reward and recognition programs is a more formal way to ensure that staff know the company sees their contributions and appreciates them.

There is a great deal of nuance to being an effective leader. I have mentored many executives to help them navigate the path to being effective leaders. If you have a leadership challenge you would like to discuss, please feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]

Leading Change to Improve Sales Performance

Written by Rob Malec

For a business owner, launching a new sales process is as much an exercise in behavioural change management as it is in sales process optimization. To improve sales performance, having your team clear on what to do in terms of the sales process is only the first step. More important is having them understand how to do it, and then following through to actually do it!

If your sales team is made up of seasoned veterans, then it is certain they have well-developed ways of doing things and firmly entrenched work habits. Even if they are new hires freshly out of school, they’ll come to you with well-developed ways of doing things and work habits – some good and some bad.

How to Manage Behavioural Change to Improve Sales Performance

In my role as a Fractional VP Sales, I’ve worked with many companies to optimize their sales processes and then launch them. I’d like to share a few things I’ve learned along the way about managing behavioural change to improve sales performance…

Communicate to Your Team Why This Change, and Why Now

Even if a sales team has been underperforming and intellectually knows what they have been doing is not working, they still need you to tell them why you’re changing your approach to selling, and why now. Let your team know the business imperative at hand. Tell them what will happen if there is no change made to the sales approach. Your people need to hear from their boss that future growth is imperilled if a new approach to sales is not taken.

Identify Who Is Leading the Change to Improve Sales Performance

When implementing new processes, your team will need to know who is in charge.

  • If they have a CRM issue, who do they go to?
  • If they have an issue related to the sales process, who is the resource to tap?
  • If there are marketing applications, who is at the wheel of that?

As you roll out changes meant to improve sales performance, your team will invariably encounter sticking points. In the absence of identifying who is in charge, the team will likely simply stop the new thing they are doing and fall back on old behaviours. Identifying who the point people to go to are when getting stuck will allow getting unstuck to happen.

Clearly Define the New Approach to Improving Sales Performance at a Granular Level

Your salespeople will want to know exactly what is changing, down to the nitty-gritty details. As changes are being made to their day-to-day duties and tasks, this makes all the sense in the world. Share process flow inventories and flowcharts as required that not only depict the new way of doing things but also compare and contrast them to the old way of doing things. This will help your salespeople see why change is necessary and how it will benefit everyone.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

Be prepared for the fact that no matter how much care you put into communicating the new approaches with granularity and clarity, your team will still be unclear in the early stages. There is simply too much coming at them for them to grasp everything in the first go. Set up initial launch meetings and a series of follow-up meetings to communicate and re-communicate what needs doing and how to do it.

Provide the Tools Your Team Needs to Successfully Change and Improve Sales Performance

Prior to launch, think through all tools your team will need to successfully implement the new sales process (think CRM, emailing software, sales scripts, process flows etc.). Have them ready on launch day. It stands to reason that if a team is asked either to do new things or to do old things in new ways if they are not given the tools to help with execution then the new approaches will fail.

Provide Coaching to Improve Sales Performance

If weekly coaching is not something you already do with your sales team, be sure to implement it when launching a new sales approach. For all the reasons listed above, it’s incumbent upon you to stay close to your people and ensure that the change you want to see is taking hold.

There are two types of meetings you should set up. The first is a regular team sales meeting to keep the whole group aligned and allow for project course correction. The other meetings to schedule are one-on-one sales coaching sessions to peel the onion on the challenges individual team members are facing. The temptation to slip back into the old ways is great. Regular coaching allows leadership to identify sticking points early and often so they can be addressed, and behaviour can successfully change.

Celebrate Wins

Celebrate wins generated from using the new sales approach in the same way you would celebrate the first wobbly steps taken by a toddler. Jump up and down, ring the bell, and get excited! Short-term wins, no matter how small, prove that the process has all parties headed in the right direction.  This celebration anchors the new approaches in the culture and sets the stage to celebrate further successes as you improve sales performance.

My thinking on managing behavioural change has been deeply influenced by Leading Change by JP Kotter. It’s a book I highly recommend for all leaders. If you would like to discuss how you might manage leading change in your own company, please feel free to reach out to me.


Are You Standing in the Way of Business Growth?

Written by Rob Malec

Ask any CEO or business owner the question, “Are you interested in growing your business?”, and they’ll invariably answer with an enthusiastic “Yes!”. When you look at their actions around running and planning for their business, however, the audio doesn’t always match the video in the way necessary for business growth.

In my role as a Fractional VP of Sales, I speak with CEOs and business owners every day, and yes, they are all enthusiastic about growing their companies. In many cases I find the audio does match the video, and their actions are consistent with their stated desire for business growth. But there is also a [not so small] proportion whose actions are inconsistent with their stated desire for business growth. Find out which category you fit into.

Are You the Hindrance to Business Growth? 3 Types of CEOs or Business Owners 

After 21 years of working with well over a hundred companies, I’ve observed that there are three camps of CEOs and business owners.

1. Those who state a commitment to business growth and act to make that growth happen

Those who are truly committed to growth always seem to find a way to make it happen. Rather than their business resembling pushing a rock uphill, it’s more akin to water running downhill. It finds its way over, under, and around obstacles to growth.

These owners are resourceful and pragmatic. A trait they all share is a keen awareness of “knowing what they don’t know”. They understand that in order to take their company to the next level they need to hire or contract expertise that they don’t have.

In a recent conversation with a client, they stated, “I know I need to hire people smarter than myself for us to be successful”. Given that this is one of the smartest people I know, their comment really hit home for me. Knowing when to bring on expert help is key to realizing business growth.

2. Those who state a commitment to business growth but don’t really want to grow

Not wanting to grow is not a bad thing at all. Many business owners start businesses to support themselves, their families, and the lifestyle they would like to enjoy. These business owners share a common characteristic. They are not out to conquer the world or to be a Fortune 500 company. They want themselves and their family to live their best life and set about to make that happen, which is never an easy thing to accomplish as a self-employed person. Starting your own business is certainly not the ‘safe’ road. These types of companies are a great thing and are the backbone of our economy.  My feeling on business owners like this is “More power to you!”.

3. Those who state a commitment to business growth but don’t have the wherewithal to act to make it happen

Those who state their commitment to growth but don’t have the wherewithal to act to make it happen also share a common characteristic: they can’t seem to get out of their own way. Businesses that have a culture of being deferential to the boss generally hit a growth ceiling and struggle mightily to get past it. Because they hire people who are okay to toe the line and not make waves, significantly fewer creative ideas are brought forth, let alone implemented.

When people wait to be told what to do and when and how to do it, there’s not much room for innovation. It’s fascinating to peek inside of these companies and see that somehow, someway inside of the hiring process those who are great at following orders get hired over the mavericks. The resulting [inadvertent] culture leads to stagnation of business growth.

CEOs and owners who need to have their hands in everything and can’t let go are often confused as to why business growth isn’t happening. They don’t recognize that they are the chokepoint. I recently worked with a CEO of a 70-person company who insisted on dealing with inbound customer service issues. Time spent on handling customer service issues (which should be delegated to someone else) is time that can’t be spent on the higher-level CEO issues that are the levers for growth. This approach may be appropriate in the start-up phase but is an obvious hindrance to growth in the maturity phase.

Beyond needing to have their hand in everything, some CEOs and business owners take things one step further and need to control everything. In this situation, even with department heads and team leads in place, every decision must be run by them. They make decisions about process change and only implement when they feel the time is right.  They don’t give their leaders the latitude to be leaders. This situation not only impedes business growth but also results in frustrated employees.

The Way Forward for Business Growth

If business growth is on your mind and you decide to act on that, then great. If your goal is to build a lifestyle business, that’s fantastic too.  But if you’re trying to achieve business growth and struggling to do so, then evaluate whether you’re the one standing in the way.

One common characteristic these business leaders often face is that they are unaware they are getting in their own way.  In some ways, this makes sense because to these people, their business is their baby and they feel the need to do everything themselves to ensure that business thrives. They came up with the idea, they struggled and bootstrapped and made it what it is today. It can be tough to let go in the way you need to for business growth to happen.

If business growth is on your mind and you are struggling to achieve it, I’m happy to chat and share my experiences with you and perhaps help you to find a path forward. Feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]

Interview Techniques for Hiring Top Sales Talent

Many sales managers I work with experience the agony of having gotten down to the final two or three new sales hire candidates but only having the budget to pick one. Each candidate has their strengths and challenges. The sales managers like (and sometimes even love) them all to the same degree. How to decide which one will join the team?

In my work as a Fractional VP of Sales, I rarely encounter small and medium enterprises that have documented and robust hiring processes. This is surprising given that people are a company’s most important asset.

Why Is It Important to Use the Right Interview Techniques to Hire Excellent Salespeople?

As a small organization grows to become a medium-sized one, the practice of hiring friends, family, and close connections runs its course and now total strangers need to be considered to fill vacant job postings. As anyone who has done any hiring knows, it’s easy and fun to hire people but challenging to exit them when it doesn’t work out. This makes a strong case for measuring twice and cutting once when it comes to vetting candidates to fill open job roles.

How to Choose the Right Sales Candidate

For companies that do have a documented sales process, one thing I rarely see is a “try before you buy” interview that sales candidates must successfully pass. In addition to testing for integrity when hiring sales reps, it’s important to know who your customers and prospects will be dealing with. The candidate you are considering will be the face of your organization and having some insight into how they will present and perform prior to hiring can save you from significant bumps down the road.

Include “Try Before You Buy” Interview Techniques in Your Hiring Process

The “try before you buy” interview should be the third step as you consider a short-listed sales candidate. You should have already done a pre-screen interview of the candidate and a second interview designed to inventory their personality traits and characteristics as they relate to the job role.

In the “try before you buy” interview, you ask the candidate to participate in a casual and relaxed sales roleplay in which they are the seller, and you are the buyer. During this roleplay, you can observe how the candidate approaches and conducts a sales interaction of the type they would need to navigate as your employee. Sales skill roleplaying should be nothing new to experienced salespeople, as it is a standard training practice, so this is not asking candidates to do something out of their comfort zone.

The roleplay scenario should be designed to mirror the job role you are hiring for. If you are hiring a frontline business development person, the roleplay should be based on how they handle a telephone interaction with a prospect. If you’re hiring an entry-level sales representative, the roleplay should involve handling a simple sales call.

During the roleplay scenario, observe the candidate’s willingness and ability to manage the sales interaction. If handling objections is part of your sale, you would want to present a few objections to see how the sales candidate handles them. If your sales are of the type that are closed in one meeting, then you would want to observe how the candidate closes. Regardless of the types of sales this role would be responsible for, it is important to have a sales call with a coherent structure and questions posed to learn about buyer needs, so listen for these elements in your roleplay as well.

Consider Willingness and Ability as Traits of Excellent Sales Hires

When choosing between candidates who are neck-and-neck in the race for the open sales position, listen for willingness and ability in the roleplay interaction to get insight into who the front runner is.

For example, it may be the case that both candidates handle objections well, but one has a greater willingness to do so by leaning into the buyer’s objection and addressing it more fluidly. When it comes to closing the sale, one candidate may stand out by displaying a higher level of assertiveness through their wording and manner in closing.

Tell Your Top Sales Candidates What to Expect in the Roleplay

As anyone who has done hiring knows, candidates who interview well typically understand what the interviewer wants to hear and will provide answers to satisfy that. This approach of “try before you buy” is the truth serum that helps you cut through this tendency and allow sales candidates to demonstrate their abilities before being hired.

To position this interview with the candidate, I typically say something to the effect of, “during our next interview we would like to see your approach to handling a sales interaction. This will be done through a relaxed sales roleplay during which you will act as a seller and sell me the product that you are currently selling or sold in your most recent sales role.”

Ensure you have at least one other company representative present at this interview so you can get other opinions on the candidate’s performance from someone who is observing and not actively involved in the roleplay.

As with all topics I discuss, there is some nuance to conducting this type of interview. If you’d like more information on what interview techniques to use with top sales candidates to ensure you choose the right one, please feel free to contact me.

How to Maximize ROI on Your Fractional VP of Sales Relationship

Working with a Fractional Vice President of Sales can be an ideal way to help increase the sales revenue your company generates.  Given the fractional [read: part-time, consulting] nature of this role, navigating the path to results is different than working with a full-time employee.

Understanding the dos and don’ts of working with a Fractional VP of sales will help you maximize the ROI on your investment and make the relationship an amazing one for all parties. Here are six things to consider before you hire a Fractional VP of sales.

1.    When You Hire a Fractional VP of Sales, You’re Not Paying for Their Time

What you are buying when you engage a Fractional VP of Sales is their expertise, not hours and minutes of their time. Any consultant’s time is worthless. It’s their expertise that is valuable. If they have “been there and done that” as it relates to tackling challenges of the type that you face in your business, they will help you in one or a combination of the following 5 ways:

  • Increasing your revenue
  • Decreasing your cost of sales
  • Shortening the time to revenue generation results
  • Making business processes easier and simpler
  • Improving the overall health of your organization

Do you really care how many hours a Fraction VP of Sales puts into making that happen? Or are you more concerned with getting that outcome within the agreed-upon timeframe?

2.    Get Comfortable with the Notion of ‘Fractional’

Part of the advantage of working with a Fractional VP Sales means that you and your company get considerable sales leadership horsepower without having to pay the hefty cost of a full-time executive/employee.

This means that they will do absolutely everything in their power to move the sales needle but will not do other ancillary tasks that often get dropped onto the plate of a full-time employee. Expecting them to do these kinds of tasks when you are paying them fractional fees will result in frustration for all parties.  To avoid this, be crystal clear about what is in their scope, and what is not in their scope during the contracting phase. Agreeing on this early on will make for a smoother ride throughout your engagement with your Fractional VP of Sales.

3.    Set Agreed-Upon Expectations for Your Fractional VP of Sales

Generally, all consultants use the same model for conducting their projects: Audit-Present Recommendations-Implement Changes-Sustain Changes over Time to Achieve Business Results. If a Fractional VP Sales is hired and revenue generation results are expected in an unreasonably short period of time, frustration will result for all parties. Candidly, if a full-time VP of Sales is hired and revenue generation results are expected in an unreasonably short period of time, frustration will also result.

Ensure both parties agree on a reasonable timeframe to conduct the audit and implement changes (this typically requires about 12 weeks) as well as how long it will take to manage sustainment to see an increase in sales and revenue generation results (typically another 12 weeks from there).

4.    Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!

Increasing sales revenue involves managing many moving parts and will require meaningful change within your organization. As a business owner, it’s vital that you have a direct line of sight into what is being done, with whom, how often, and in what manner.

Work with your Fractional VP of Sales to determine the best way for you to communicate. Whatever that looks like, make sure the communication is weekly. This will keep you current on the pulse of the project and allow for timely course correction where required.

5.    Understand That Your Participation Is Mandatory

When your Fractional VP Sales asks to meet you, make yourself available to do so in a reasonable time.  When attempting to increase sales revenues, many CEO/business owner-level decisions must be made, such as hiring new staff, changing compensation plans, understanding new product launch calendars so sales forecasts can be made, having sales goals approved etc. In the absence of speaking with you, your Fractional VP of Sales will be working in the dark and as such your project is doomed for failure.

6.    Communicate, Communicate, Communicate [Continued]

If you have questions along the way about how things are proceeding in terms of improving sales results, then ask them. If you are curious as to why things are being done a certain way within the project, then inquire. If you think the approach being taken is absolutely the wrong one, bring that up and talk about it.

As with any working relationship, all parties need to feel comfortable speaking up when they feel the need. As a CEO/business owner engaging a Fractional VP of Sales, you are bringing a new person into your organization who while implementing change is bound to have some employees feel uneasy as their old ways are left behind. Further, as each month passes you are making a deeper investment into increasing your sales revenues. These are good reasons for saying what you want to say when you want to say it so that the likelihood of project success is increased.

As with all things, there’s a great deal of nuance as it relates to integrating the help, services, and expertise of a Fractional VP of Sales. If you would like further detail, please feel free to reach out.


How to Manage Remote Sales Work

In sales, working remotely is nothing new. Dispersed geographic territories and the need for salespeople to meet with buyers regularly necessitate sellers out of the office, so the debate around remote work is moot.

What is new, however, is having sellers who manage local territories working fully remotely. People you used to see in the office are no longer present. As a business owner, it’s reasonable to ask yourself, ‘are my salespeople actually working during the workday?’. 

What Does Remote Flex Time Work Mean for Your Business?

It’s natural that if you’re working from home, picking your kids up from school at 3 pm makes sense [and feels great to do as a working parent]. If you’re wondering whether this is happening with your remote sales team, let me put your mind to rest. Things like this are definitely happening…but it isn’t necessarily a bad thing for your business.

What has changed about sales work is when the work is done. Remote working has led to flexible working times. This means your sales team can work non-traditional office hours to complete their daily duties. What has not changed is the requirement for productivity and the reciprocal arrangement between employer and employee that salary and commissions are paid in exchange for that productivity.

A unique aspect of the sales role is its scoreboard nature. A salesperson’s productivity is not something only the salesperson and their manager know about. Typically, everyone knows which salespeople are productive, which aren’t, and who is the top tier of sales performers. This information is basically in the company’s internal public domain.

Remote flex time working is, naturally, something that many employees love. It is not, however, a given right. If it is not structured in a way that the needs of your business and paying customers are being met, it simply won’t work.

How to Make Remote Sales Work on Flex Time Successful

If you’re thinking about allowing your sales department to work remotely during non-traditional work hours, here are a few things you should consider to achieve a mutually successful arrangement.

Make CRM Use Mandatory

If CRM use by your sales team is still optional, you should make it mandatory to facilitate a successful remote and flexible working time arrangement. CRM needs to be your ultimate source of truth when it comes to sales activity productivity.

All salespeople and sales managers need immediate access to sales activity KPIs in order to accurately project sales results for the next 30, 60, and 90 days. There is an obvious duality here. Being able to look at CRM sales activity levels certainly provides a daily window into what your sales team has been doing to generate sales. Equally, if not more important, is the fact that these activities can help predict sales results. Monitoring day-to-day sales activities helps ensure that short- and medium-term sales goals will be met.

Hold Daily Virtual Stand-Up Meetings 

Before fully remote sales work was a thing, local sales teams had to show up at the office first thing in the morning for a face-to-face stand-up meeting before heading out on the road to make sales calls. The purpose of this meeting was to establish goals for the day and set the tone for a productive day of sales meetings.

You should maintain this practice even with a remote team. A feeling of disconnectedness is an immediate by-product of working remotely. You can avoid this by having a virtual 15-minute stand-up meeting with your sales team (preferably with cameras on!) each morning to create the connectedness and team vibe your salespeople need to stay motivated and grounded.

Have Weekly Meetings With Your Remote Sales Team

Establish a tempo of a weekly one-hour meeting with the sales team. Alternate weekly between the topics of moving sales deals forward and territory management and development. Having these meetings first thing Monday morning starts the week off on the right foot. Make it clear to your team that this time is to be considered sacrosanct and no other meetings should be booked in that timeslot. Of course, customer and buyer emergencies will come up, but if the default is that the meeting is always to happen, 98% of the time it will.

Provide Your Team With One-on-One Salesperson Coaching

Individual coaching is the best way to stay in touch with your salespeople. There is no substitute for dedicated one-on-one time to get dialled into not only sales productivity and results, but also into how your salespeople are doing on a personal level. 

A major disadvantage of remote sales work is the lack of camaraderie. Purposeful one-on-one sessions (not just the ad hoc telephone conversations that tend to arise) promote the type of bonding that used to take place in the office. Ensure that at least a quarter of your time together is spent talking about non-work issues. The quality of a person’s relationship with their direct manager is a primary source of job satisfaction. Do your best to keep these home fires burning.

Encourage a Buddy System

Group two or three salespeople together into a work unit to encourage a team environment even when your team cannot be physically present with one another. Provide them with relevant sales-related tasks to work on, such as gathering intel on competitors, creating a slide deck for use by the sales team, and other collaborative tasks. Orchestrating team interaction is a great way to maintain a team vibe so that your people feel supported.

Final Thoughts on How to Make Remote Sales Work Successful 

Fully remote sales work is a reality today in a way that it wasn’t even five years ago. The trend of companies forcing their people back into the office after the pandemic is not only starting to abate but is reversing altogether. 

New recruits are increasingly demanding the ability to work remotely, at least partially, and if they don’t get it, they will find a job elsewhere. In my role as a Fractional Vice President of Sales, I’ve helped many clients set up their remote salesforce for success. If you’d like to discuss how, please reach out.



Sales Managers Onboarding New Sales Hires

In my role as a Fractional VP of Sales, I regularly help my clients’ sales managers with the recruitment, hiring, and onboarding plan for their next great salespeople. When I ask about their onboarding process, some business owners chuckle and admit they don’t really have one. “We just kind of throw them in there!” is not an unusual response. 

Interestingly, it’s these same business owners who bring me in because they have an issue with staff turnover in their sales team. There are a few that have a structured employee onboarding process. Not surprisingly, these business owners typically don’t have issues with the turnover of sales talent. Which camp do you fall in? 

Why Have an Employee Onboarding Process for New Sales Hires?

During the first two weeks on the job, your new hire is assessing you and your company just as much as you are assessing the new hire. You are in a probationary period just as they are. Putting your best foot forward as a company helps them confirm that they have made a great choice by choosing to work with you. Consider their first two weeks as the ‘welcome to the family!’ phase. Set them up for a shorter and steeper learning curve so they get on track to job satisfaction and the desired levels of productivity faster.

How to Structure an Employee Onboarding Process for New Sales Hires

Plot out the first two weeks of onboarding for your new sales hires. Every working hour should be accounted for, including a clear goal for what they need to learn, what they are to be doing, and who they will be doing it with or learning from.

Setting the Stage for the Onboarding Process

Let each new hire know who they will be learning from and sitting with. Likewise, let the team member responsible for orienting the new hire know:

  • How much time the new hire will spend with them
  • What the new hire needs to learn
  • What things they need to teach the new hire

Let the new hire know how their learning will be assessed and what things, in particular, they should focus on while working with and learning from others.

Teaching During the Onboarding Process

Every adult has a default learning style. Some people learn best by observing, others by reading, and still others by doing. All people typically learn through a combination of all three. Structure the teaching so that all three of these learning modalities are included. Include video training, working with others, and hands-on application to increase the effectiveness of your teaching. Vary the daily schedule so that your new hire gets a bit of each type of learning opportunity every day. This will reduce the chances of boredom by engaging your new hire in varied and interesting ways.

Interacting With Experienced Team Members

Each week, arrange one or two lunches with experienced team members who will play a key role in the new hire’s life at your company. Chats during mealtimes tend to cover more non-work ground than conversations throughout the business day. Purposefully setting up these interactions will ensure your new hire gets to know their teammates both as coworkers and people.

Preparing Content for Your Onboarding Process

Simply having your new hire sit in a chair beside a co-worker and observe them for half a day can be helpful but not sufficiently illustrative to prepare them to do the job themselves. If job manuals don’t exit at your company, then you will need to break their job role down into its primary components and then provide “how to” instructions so they can successfully navigate their new role. Work from macro to micro when structuring learning content. Provide screen capture videos to show how tasks are completed and how to navigate your company’s systems and tech stack.

Tracking the Effectiveness of the Employee Onboarding Process

Close the loop on your new hire’s learning by checking back to ensure that teachers taught, and the learner learned on a daily basis. Learning assessments can be in the form of written quizzes or person-to-person debriefs. These are vital for helping all parties understand if the training is effective so you can be confident that the person is in a position for success once they are to fly on their own. Ask the employee to provide feedback on how you are doing at teaching them. Getting this feedback will help you meet the needs of the new hire and improve your onboarding process for future hires.

Making the first two weeks at your company amazing for your new hires is a step in the right direction toward improving your staff retention and employee satisfaction. As with all things, there is some nuance involved with developing your onboarding plan. If you would like to discuss this further, please reach out and let me know.


How to Know When You Need a Sales Manager

In my role as a fractional VP of sales, I often see business owners wait too long to bring on a sales manager. As things get busy they find it tough to stay dialled into the sales function. How do you know when it’s time to bring on a sales manager?

How to Know When to Hire a Sales Manager?

Let’s take a look at the different scenarios your business may be facing in relation to hiring a sales manager.

When Sales are Up

Although it may seem counterintuitive, a good time to consider whether or not you need a sales manager is when your sales are up. There are many reasons for your sales to be up. Perhaps the market is buoyant because of the geopolitical, global landscape shifting in your favour. Or maybe your products and services have improved, leading to a boost in sales.

Whatever the reason, the question you should consider is whether you are positioned to maximize on this up market from the perspective of your sales capacity. Capitalizing on an up market can put your company in an advantageous position for future growth and longevity.

Having a sales manager on board to lead your salespeople and manage the numbers can help you build out your sales process infrastructure to capitalize on the immediate-term up market and build a foundation that will weather down market storms.

When Sales are Down

When your sales are taking a nosedive it is an obvious time to consider hiring a sales manager. If your sales are down but you’re confident that it’s not a direct result of market or product issues, it may be that your sales process is weak or underdeveloped and needs some attention. 

A sales manager can help by distilling what to do and in what order to establish a robust, repeatable sales process that will allow you to reach your sales goals reliably and predictably. Plus, having an expert on the team to worry about the sales process will free you to work on the other strategic aspects of your business that you are best positioned to handle.

When You Don’t Know Where Your Sales are Trending

Not knowing which direction your sales are trending in is a sign that you have been pulled in other directions within the business and have been unable to devote the focus you need to the sales function. 

A sales function can drift for several months with inbound revenue requirements being satisfied by existing customers. If you’re not paying attention, several quarters can drift by before you realize that you’re not bringing on enough of the new customers you need to expand your reach and revenue.

In this case, bringing on a sales manager who can watch the dials, read the reports, and work with your salespeople to course correct as necessary will allow you to focus on the other needs of the business with the peace of mind that the sales function is in capable hands.

No matter what stage your business is in, be sure to assess your sales to determine whether it might be time to bring on a sales manager before it’s too late. If you’re not ready to bring on a full-time sales manager, there are several benefits of an outsourced sales manager as well.

If you need assistance thinking through whether a fractional sales manager could help you grow your business and achieve predictable, steady revenue growth, please contact me and I’d be happy to discuss this further.

How a Process Driven Sales Process Makes Your Business a More Attractive Asset

If you’re planning to sell your business, you need to consider what the buyer wants. They want a profitable revenue-generation machine. If you’ve struggled to hit your revenue goals reliably and productively, what can you do to make your business more attractive and achieve the purchase multiples you desire? 

In my role as a Fractional Vice President of Sales, I work closely with clients to build a sales and revenue-generation process infrastructure that helps companies reach their sales and revenue-generation goals reliably and productively. Here’s what you should look at to accomplish this in your business too.

How to Build a Business Worth Selling 

1. Sales and Revenue Generation Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): Do You Have Any?

Track sales activity and results key performance indicators to have a clear idea of how your business is performing and know when and how to course-correct your sales process. 

Sales revenue for the overall company is, of course, required. But going more granular and tracking sales revenue per rep demonstrates that you have cracked the code on how to make salespeople in your business and your industry successful.

Classic sales and revenue generation KPIs are things like sales quota per territory, which rolls up to a regional and then a national goal.  Next to that would be the actual revenue generated per month, per quarter, and per year per rep. 

2. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System: Do You Have One?

If you’re currently using spreadsheets to track sales activity and performance, chances are that you could benefit from streamlining your process by adopting a CRM. Invest in a CRM and use it religiously, 100% of the time, for all of your sales opportunities and salespeople. A good CRM is like a mirror that reflects the diligence with which your sales team follows your sales process. 

A CRM not only gives you a centralized repository of all your sales information and lets you present it in an easy-to-understand format but also allows you to increase productivity and optimize your selling.

3. Build a Documented Sales Process

This crucial aspect of your business is the recipe for your sales team’s success. It is essentially an instruction manual to follow to generate sales in your industry. When you have a detailed sales process nailed down, this is a clear indication that you can scale up and have any new salespeople you onboard become active and productive very quickly.

4. Refine Your Hiring Process

Create a defined and refined hiring process that ensures you can consistently hire candidates with the highest probability of sales success. This will position your company to scale up at any time. 

Without a clear hiring process, the purchaser of your company will be left to try to unravel the mystery of hiring sales winners on their own. By giving them a tried and tested formula for hiring excellent salespeople, you make your business more attractive.

5. Have a Sales Coaching Protocol

Sales coaching is an integral component of empowering sales reps to reach and exceed their sales quotas, share best practices, and improve retention rates. Creating a process description that outlines the content of sales coaching sessions shows that you understand how to take great sales hires and long-term performers and continually increase their knowledge base, sharpen their skills, and improve their performance levels year over year. 

When you have all of the above components, it demonstrates to potential buyers that your company is not reliant on a single individual for revenue generation success. Rather, you can demonstrate that you have a well-oiled revenue-generation machine that can continue to function even when the players change.

A buyer wants to see that you have set up a systems and process infrastructure so that the company is in a position to generate revenue in up markets or down markets, good times or bad. This is the type of guarantee that a potential purchaser of your business is looking for.

If you’re thinking of selling your business or if you are currently building one with the long-term goal of selling it, get in touch to discuss how to structure your sales function to make your asset as attractive to your buyers as possible.

Why Chasing Shiny Objects Isn’t a Great Approach to Sales

It’s been my experience as a Fractional VP of Sales that chasing shiny objects is the number one reason for sales revenue generation failure to launch. In sales, ‘chasing shiny objects’ refers to the successive and rapid non-focused pursuit of any and all sales opportunities that look promising. This is a phenomenon in which each opportunity looks more interesting than the one before it and is pursued without any analysis of Probability to Close to support that decision.  

The Danger of Chasing Shiny Objects 

This type of activity makes a sales team appear active and potentially productive, which can lull business owners into a false sense of security. In reality, this approach means resources get poured into chasing sales opportunities that are not a good fit.  Further, the opportunity cost of the time invested in these wild goose chases is high.  Weeks, months, and quarters can fly by while chasing these shiny objects with no revenue results to show for it.

Unfortunately, it can take several quarters to prove that this approach to sales is ineffective. An entire year of sales quota can be burned as the sales team goes after these non-opportunities. So, what can be done about this? 

How to Avoid Wasting Time and Resources on Sales Opportunities That Don’t Materialize

1. Identify Your Ideal Customer Profile

Before your sales team is tasked with going on the hunt for new clients, ensure they have a vivid description of exactly what it is they are looking for. Document the prospect type by whatever parameters are required for your business.

Typically, these are things such as their annual revenue, headcount, geographic location, the degree to which they would use your products and services in volume and revenue, and the pain points that your solutions or products would resolve.

2. Create Buyer Personas

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional psychographic description of the individuals your salespeople are selling to. It should describe in detail the things the buyers or decision-makers are motivated by, what they do and don’t care about, and what their goals and challenges are. 

It’s helpful to create a specific representation of a buyer with a name, age, gender, and position in their company’s organizational chart. This detailed description helps salespeople prepare for the sales task at hand by helping them visualize a real person with needs and challenges that they can address in their sales approach.

3. Identify the Opposite of Your Ideal Customer Profile and Buyer Personas

Once you’ve got a clear description of who your ideal customers are and their detailed buyer personas, that allows you to be equally clear on who you’re not targeting. This gives your salespeople clarity on what not to pursue as they are hunting for opportunities.

Opportunities with insufficient volume or lack of clearly stated needs are not the best ones to devote time and effort toward. Beware of prospects that say, “we’re small now but we have big growth plans”. These often end up being customers that get significant discounts upfront for volume that never materializes. 

4. Teach Your Sales Team to Say No

Salespeople tend to be eternal optimists who see every viable sales opportunity as a great one. Being competitive and enjoying a challenge can also play into chasing shiny objects. Your people may not take the time to discern between a viable opportunity and an excellent one. 

One way to remedy this is to let them know that it’s absolutely okay to throw a fish that’s too small back into the water! It’s also a good idea to let them know that it’s perfectly acceptable for them to empty their funnel of opportunities that are shiny objects and start from zero.

5. Establish a Documented Sales Process 

Salespeople are attracted to shiny objects because they enjoy the reassurance of a full funnel. An empty funnel is a scary thing when you have no clear line of sight into how to fill it up with good opportunities.

Taking the time to document your sales process gives your team a systematic process to follow that will result in a full funnel over time. With clear steps to take, they will have confidence in their ability to fill the funnel as long as they hit the minimum daily sales activity requirements. Taking the mystery out of finding opportunities will help prevent chasing shiny objects.

6. Add “Chasing Shiny Objects” Into Your Company Vernacular

Even your best sellers will occasionally fall into the trap of pursuing shiny objects. By adding this language into your team’s vocabulary, the manager of your sales team has a non-judgemental way to question whether or not an opportunity your salesperson is devoting time, resources, and money into is, in fact, worthy of it. It’s also a catchy phrase that will stay with your salespeople and encourage them to ask themselves, “is this a shiny object I’m after?”. 

No sales leader wants their people to be distracted by pursuing new opportunities at the expense of neglecting better opportunities that may already be underway. The urge to chase shiny objects happens to the best sellers but being aware of it and taking the steps above can help you make sure your revenue doesn’t suffer because of it. 

Are you dealing with shiny object syndrome on your sales team and wondering how to approach it? Get in touch and I’d be happy to discuss this with you further.