Walking into any new job, let alone a sales management job, can be overwhelming unless you have a plan. There are a number 90 day plan for new manager templates available but these are by necessity generic in nature. For those of us in the Sales and Sales Operations profession we have unique considerations that should be quickly addressed once you’re on board.
What follows is a check list of tasks and questions, the answers to which will lead to other tasks. Nearly all of these could be the subject of an additional blog (and perhaps some will) but the purpose of this writing is to encourage you to think about these concepts as your develop your own plan.
Meet F2F with all of your direct reports. This will help you to form an impression of their capabilities and character. Find out what motivates your team. How are they doing against targets? What are the successful members doing to distinguish themselves from the rest of the team? Listen and learn to uncover their perceptions of any internal roadblocks or inefficiencies in the current processes. It is also an opportunity for you to begin to build trust and credibility with them.
Meet with your peers. Again, listen and learn about issues in your organization from the perspective of outsiders. Find out how they support Sales. Uncover internal resources that can be helpful in addressing customer satisfaction, product challenges and administrative delays. It’s only a matter of time before you will need their help in booking the next non-standard mega-deal.
Evaluate the coverage model. Is it aligned with your sales strategy? Is it time to revisit the GTM strategy? Does vertical segmentation make sense? What organizational changes do you need to make to attain your number? Do you need more “feet on the street” or simply to improve the productivity of your existing team? Will increased investment yield improved productivity in direct, inside, sales development, or channels teams?
Close out any pending issues or incomplete tasks remaining from your predecessor.
Challenge assumptions. As the newcomer you have significant personal capital to spend in your first few months that can evaporate if not used. Leverage that capital sooner rather than later.
Understand the product roadmap and release cycle with the intention of managing that timing to best exploit your GA products and support revenue stream as well as minimize customer anxiety.
Is the funnel being filled with appropriately qualified leads? If leads are not “Sales ready” is this the right time to employ a Sales Development team?
How is the health of your pipeline and how is it measured? Have you applied velocity and conversion metrics to the pipelines of individual contributors before diving into discussions with them? How much of the pipeline is window dressing, deals that are not moving left over from your predecessor?
Physically diagram all sales related processes with a thorough understanding of the reason for every step as well as the “value-add” for each of the decision branches. Consider the processes for lead generation and funnel management, CRM and pipeline management, and data aggregation for sales compensation calculations. Focus on the processes that can cost effectively be automated with scalability in mind.
Determine the metrics you will need to drive your business and insure your supporting systems are up to the task of supplying accurate data required. It is particularly effective to apply automation in this area to minimize compensation errors.
Establish a cadence and share your expectations both inside and outside of your organization regarding sales communications, forecast management, discount and exception approvals, and bookings.
Evaluate the on-boarding process and new hire training for optimized productivity. As a new-hire you might subject yourself to the current on-boarding and training processes reserved for individual contributors to personally determine their efficacy.
Arrange to receive product training. Learn the strengths and weaknesses of the value proposition and determine what is necessary to improve it. Study the competition’s products and how a product comparison should affect your sales messaging.
Evaluate the current Sales (and Marketing) methodologies. Are they aligned with your customer’s current buying processes? Does lack of adoption or inconsistent application of the sales methodology signal that you should consider reevaluating it? What is the adoption/utilization rate of your CRM system and why? Does using the CRM system add value for your team in their day-to-day selling activities or is this data entry considered administravia only to enable management oversight? Is the methodology effectively embedded into your CRM system to optimize efficiency?
Evaluate the current commission plan. When was the last validation of OTE and leverage with comparable organizations? Is your cost of sales in line with the industry for your particular organizational structure? Is there a high correlation between revenue and payout? Consider how you will smoothly transition the plan through its evolution to next year.
In Summary –
If the scope of your company’s Sales Operation’s responsibilities is comprehensive, as outlined on my home page, then all of the above concerns could be borne by Sales Operations. More typically Sales Operations will act in an advisory capacity to the sales leader on strategic issues. If you are a sales leader without executive level Sales Operations support then you should be concerned with all of the above as well as tasks related to customer issues, people issues and sales coaching.
Once you’ve given the proper consideration to the above questions you should meet with your direct manager to review and mutually set expectations in light of your discoveries and analysis. When you walk into your new role be mindful that you will be setting the direction for the future of the company. Crisp execution based on your sound assessment of the above issues will be critical to the company’s success.
As always, I value your input and insights. Please feel free to add you suggestions in the comment box below.