In consulting with clients, daily I hear the following questions being asked by both sales management and account managers. When comparing the needs and business department requirements of sales and sales management for success in the coming year, there appears to be a common thread of expectation for both. Both seek more support, teamwork and increased revenue. Both expect each other to be more responsive. Hopefully, through more direct and deliberate dialogue, each group can achieve greater success by working closer together.
In this economy (more than ever) actions speak louder than words. Promises by sales reps that they will work harder are lost just as quickly as VP of Sales who commit to support the sales staff when confronted by difficult sales issues in their weekly executive meeting.
10 Questions Sales Account Managers May Want To Ask Their VP of Sales
It's been a tough year. I have cold called, networked, and prepared many client proposals to sell our products and services in order to make quota. Some have purchased, some have delayed their decision, and some don't even call me back. The days have been long and the months even longer. As my boss, I have expectations on what your job responsibilities are to management and to me, as part of your team. So based on these expectations and you being the VP of Sales, I have a few questions I would like to ask you to help me understand your direction and activities in the coming year to help me sell more.
1. How was my quota determined and is it realistic?
2. How come I don't get 10 good qualified leads each month from the marketing department and what are you going to do about it?
3. Why have we not completed a new competitive review feature by feature and service by service against our competitors during the last six months? It is tough out there. We do not know what we are up against, budgets are tight, and I need to be informed to sell more.
4. When will I get more sales training? I am a professional salesperson and I need ongoing sales training every month.
5. What is our firm doing to position itself as a specialist not a generalist? In this economy, no one spends money on products or services that don't increase corporate profits.
6. Our average proposal or contract takes too long to turn around in our firm. We need to reduce the approval time. How will you change this?
7. We have a lot of strategic partnerships, but I never get any qualified leads. Why do we have alliances if they don't generate revenue?
8. I know you're busy, but as the senior sales executive, why don't you go on more sales calls with me or the rest of the team? We can use your help.
9. We seem not to have a specific corporate message. When we talk to prospects, we have no insightful way to communicate who we are. Can you get senior management to focus on crafting one succinct message that will help clients listen and help us penetrate new opportunities?
10. We seem to have lots of department silos. The company talks about teaming and leadership, but at the end of the day, all department heads focus on their department needs only. How will you change this?
8 Questions Every VP Of Sales May Want To Ask
Their Sales Account Managers
This has been a tough year. Some of my account managers may make quota, some may miss it and some may just give up. Currently I sit in meetings with the CEO being grilled on the commitments to revenue I made last year. I hold meetings with the CFO to discuss new department travel and expense management controls to reduce our overhead and I listened to my account reps' frustrations daily about the economy. So, based on these issues and you being one of my account managers, I would like to sit down and chat with you to better understand your commitment, direction and activities for the coming year.
1. Day in and day out, you tell me you are working hard, but when I review your telephone usage, it appears you make less than 30 calls a day. When will you commit to cold calling?
2. When I look at your closing ratio, I am not pleased. You are a professional salesperson. What are you doing to increase your level of sales success? Are you continually studying the mechanics of the sales process?
3. Your sales pipeline seems inflated. It appears that you are selling me rather than clients. What are you going to do to produce a more accurate sales forecast?
4. I am here to help, but I am a shared resource. I cannot work with you on every deal. You need to close deals on your own. How will you do this?
5. When I look at your sales pipeline, your key contacts all hold titles of Directors or below. What are you going to do differently next year to sell to C-level executives and Vice Presidents since they are the ones who OK purchase orders?
6. Your paperwork and sales forecasting is never done on time. We all hate paperwork, but it is a tool for management to understand your progress and our firm's current sales position. Will you commit to do better?
7. Looking at your ratio of leads to proposals, it seems low. How will you convert more qualified prospects into proposal prospects?
8. Listen, times are tough. But I need my sales staff to be positive and committed. Will you have a more positive approach in the coming year?
To succeed, VP's of Sales need to be more aggressive in generating leads for their sales force and expecting a greater ROI from associated departments (marketing, strategy, alliance managers), which impact sales opportunities. Likewise, sales account executives need to fine-tune their sales skills to close difficult business and not wait for corporate to feed them leads. Hey, we are all in this together. Salespeople need to hunt for business.