Millennial CEOs in today’s business climate face a changing role from the traditional leadership image of the suit in the C-suite, especially when it comes to sales.
It’s becoming increasingly important for top leadership to work directly with their sales managers to develop a stellar sales process. Even more than that, it’s imperative to spend time with the salespeople who are actually using those processes. The people in the trenches interface directly with prospects and customers every day. They will, no doubt, know what works and what doesn’t.
As the CEO, being directly involved in the sales process and the work of its team members will foster more realistic expectations, a happier team, and a better bottom line. Sometimes, though, even that isn’t enough to provide your sales team with the competitive edge they need.
Let’s explore what your sales team needs from you so they can truly excel:
1. Provide Solid Support for Your Sales Managers.
Today’s companies are increasing the scopes of their product lines, product complexity and market diversity. This presents a number of challenges for your sales team, particularly in terms of productivity. In addition, sales quotas are continuing to grow, as sales reps receive less support in meeting those goals.
The best young leaders know that this situation calls for better attribution measurement and sales funnel tracking, providing insights into the salespeople and channels that are driving the best performance and where the drop-offs are for the laggards.
As a CEO, you’ll need to make sales leadership a major focal point in your management priorities. Build up your middle managers with the right behaviors, then give them the tools they need to empower their sales teams. Once you’ve done that, you can then look to the future with higher profits in mind.
2. Be Transparent with Sales Goals.
A recent survey from BetterWorks and Wakefield Research illustrates the extent to which transparency has the power to completely transform your sales organization. Some interesting statistics from the survey include:
- 64% of workers feel their leadership is not transparent about the top goals of the company
- 83% of those workers report that the feedback they get doesn’t help them be more successful
- 92% report that transparent goals would motivate them to work harder
Transparency starts from the top down. If you, as the CEO, are transparent about what’s going on within the company and your goals, you can expect the same of all the staff below you – not just salespeople, but managers across the board. When they know you’re invested in their success, they’ll be more apt to adopt that policy with their teams and, before you know it, you’ve got an entire team embracing transparency.
Perhaps the most important thing, even beyond celebrating successes and attracting talent, is the ability to win and lose together. Show your support during the good times and the bad.
This, of course, means finding a balance between sharing too much and not sharing enough. Obviously, it’s not always possible to tell your staff everything going on in your company. There are certain things within every company that must stay confidential. If a question concerning confidential information is asked, it’s best to be honest. The best way to do this is to explain that the information is confidential and cannot be divulged at this time. Reassure them that you will tell them as soon as you are able.
3. Make It Easier to Find and Qualify Leads.
A recent study from Gartner shows marketing budgets are increasing year over year, but as customer acquisition gets more complex, and the requisite tool stack in parallel, data collection and smooth work flows become harder to come by.
As a CEO, you can help by encouraging the sales team to adopt the right tools. Lead generation technology is a great way to uncover more qualified leads, since it helps automate the process for the team. It helps your team easily filter through leads based on their target audience, and recognize the leads that are most likely to result in sales.
Why should the CEO be involved? Playing a role here shows you truly understand the problem of lead generation – the fact that 98% of your traffic will not leave a mark. Your willingness to invest in software to help conversions shows you understand the challenges. When considering your options for lead generation tools, look for features like CRM integration, custom filters, lead scoring, email address discovery and LinkedIn integrations.
4. Invest in a Good CRM.
Good customer relationship management software comes with multiple benefits. It allows you to enhance communication between employees about any given relationship with a customer, thus improving your customer service. Plus, it can help automate everyday tasks, giving employees more time to focus directly on customers.
In addition, the CRM can greatly improve analytics and reporting so you can see what you’re doing well, and where improvements might be made.
When it comes to choosing the right CRM for your business, think about how much you’re willing to pay, why your business needs it, and what features you’ll need. Look for a platform that integrates with other software you’re already using, specifically lead generation to nurture your prospects, track orders, and more.
The best CRMs also include features to forecast sales, track performance and even track your competitors.
5. Grow Your Own Network.
As a young CEO, you can do a lot to facilitate the sales process through your own business network. Talk to other CEOs. Find out what they’re doing when it comes to building solid relationships with prospects and customers. Learn from their successes and their failures, as this can help boost your own customer retention rates. You can pass golden nuggets of knowledge on to your sales managers and members of your sales teams.
As a CEO, if you’re not taking the time utilize social media, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, etc., you can’t expect your team to follow your lead. According to a High Resolution Leadership study, CEOs who use social media are:
- 89% better at empowering others
- 52% stronger at compelling communication
- 46% more influential
- 36% better at cultivating networks
- 19% more passionate for results
- 16% better at making decisions
It’s also important to engage with the leaders at the organizations your team is pitching to. Forging a strong relationship with them may help move the sale along faster, and it gives the other CEO a direct pathway to the top. Should they encounter problems with your product or service, they have someone to call who is most likely in a position help them get a quick resolution to the problem.
When you’ve build a rapport with people, it’s easier for you to convert them to customers, and they’re more likely to think of you when a friend or colleague is looking for a solution you offer.
CEOs who are actively involved with these strategies are truly doing all they can to support their sales teams. When sales teams know they have the support of company executives, they’re more confident in the actions they take, and more apt to address any negative issues they may experience along the way. In the end, you’ll have a happier team (meaning they’re more productive and earning more) and lower turnover (which is costly to your company). It’s a win-win.