18 Critical Questions CEOs Need to Ask Their Sales Managers

Most sales managers do not know how effective their sales organizations really are. They have a handle on things from their perspective (Chief Sales Office, VP of Sales, Sales Director, and front-line sales manager). To be a highly effective sales leader you need to know the answers to the following 18 question to get a holistic idea of what going on in your sales organization.

1. Do We Have the Right People in the Right Roles?

Salespeople fall into three broad categories; hunters, farmers, and order takers. Hunters are happiest when they bring in new business to the organization. Farmers have existing accounts that they nurture to increase revenue. And order takers just wait for the phone to ring.
Some salespeople are drawn to large accounts while others feel more comfortable dealing with small to midsize counts. As a sales leader, you need to continually evaluate how to deploy your personnel in a way that maximizes the overall sales team performance.

2. What Are Our Current Sales Capabilities?

In the immortal words of Dirty Harry, “a man’s got to know his limitations.” A sales manager need to know the sales capabilities of the individual team members. This knowledge allows him or her to optimize the sales strategy and the accompanying goals so the sales team delivers optimal results.
These insights assist the sales manager to identify the sales coaching and sales training resources that are required for his or her team to improve.

3. How Motivated Are Our Salespeople and How Are They Motivated?

As sales managers, we need to intimately know our salespeople. What are their strengths and weaknesses? What drives them and what shuts them down. We need to know what motivates our individual salespeople to go above and beyond the call of duty.
Additionally, we need to know how our individual salespeople learn. What style of leadership do they respond to? And what limiting beliefs are blocking them from becoming exceptional.

4. Why Aren’t We Generating More New Business?

To generate new business we need a winning strategy, a plan, and effective execution. If we are not generating enough new business that means one of the elements is lacking. It’s the sales leaders responsibility to figure out where the problem lies in how to fix it.
Sales managers need to autopsy every campaign to figure out what’s working and what’s not. These findings will allow us to design better campaigns in the future. Do, test, and improve is the best way to achieve great results.

5. Are We Reaching the Actual Decision Makers?

There is a world of difference between being busy and being effective. If your salespeople are not meeting with decision-makers the chances of closing new business go down precipitously. As sales leaders, we need to continually ask our salespeople, “how do you know you were dealing with the decision-maker?” This simple question forces salespeople to drop assumptions and never take anything for granted.

6. Why Isn’t Our Sales Cycle Shorter?

A smart man knows the answers but a wise man knows what questions to ask. As sales leaders, we need to continually ask better questions. As soon as we ask, “why isn’t our sales cycle shorter?” You’ll get an answer that will help shorten your sales cycle incrementally or in a more dramatic way. You must continually challenge yourself with insightful questions because it is the only way to ensure you are continually improving.

7. Are We Selling Consultatively?

There is an adage from the Talmud, “We do not see the universe as it is we see it as we are.” Just because you as the sales manager use a consultative selling approach. And you preach it to your salespeople it does not mean that they are actually using it in the field. As sales leaders, we need to do ride-along to ensure that best practices are being followed. This is a great opportunity to provide coaching and leadership to your sales team.

8. Are We Selling on Price and Who Can Become a Value Seller?

Salespeople can exalt the benefits of selling on value. But when a customer pushes back many salespeople give a discount when one is not required. As a sales leader, you can see the data and know which sales rep is selling on price and who is selling on value. The tricky part is figuring out which of the price sellers have the capacity to sell on value. If we can identify these individuals we can provide the coaching and leadership they need so their deals are more profitable.

9. Is Our Value Proposition Consistent?

As sales leaders, we need to know that our entire sales team is delivering the same value proposition to our customers. In many sales organizations, the value proposition changes depending on the salesperson delivering it. Inconsistent sales processes make it difficult for sales managers to diagnose and fix sales problems.

10. Can We Close More Sales?

This simple little question can radically improve the sales performance of your entire organization. Because there’s always a way to make improvements. Think of it this way, a nationally ranked track and field star is only a second away from being an Olympian. To reduce this one second of time they improve 100 little things that add up to a gold medal and a lucrative career selling toothpaste. The same is true for our sales organizations. We need to continually improve what we do so we continually improve the results we get.

11. Do Our Systems and Processes Support a High-Performance Sales Organization?

The first thing we need to define is what constitutes a high-performance sales organization. Once we have it defined we can determine whether we are executing at that level or not. If we are yeah team! If not we can improve our systems and processes so we get better results.

12. Are We Being Consistent with Our Sales Process?

Selling can be a shoot from the hip endeavor. But highly successful sales organizations know that it’s a science. We need to develop an effective sales process that all or sales reps follow. We look at the results and see what needs improving. Make the adjustments and look at the results we get. This ongoing improvement can only happen when we have a consistent sales process. As sales managers, we need to ensure that our all of our salespeople follow the process. It’s the fastest way to increase sales performance.

13. Do We Need to Change Our Selection Criteria?

For many sales managers, the toughest part of the job is hiring talented salespeople. As a sales manager, you have to look at the last 10 salespeople you hired. How many of them turned out to be winners? The answer all too often is not enough. If you’re not getting the right candidates in place it means your selection criteria needs to be improved. Every bad hire can set your organization back hundreds of thousands of dollars.

14. Is Our Ramp-Up of New Salespeople Fast Enough?

According to the American Society for Training and Development, the cost to replace a salesperson can range anywhere from 100% to 250% of their annual salary. A large part of that loss is due to the slow ramp-up period for the new rep. As sales leaders, we need to continually improve our ramp-up strategy so new hires become highly effective faster. This ensures happier customers and more revenue for your organization.

15. Can We Improve Our Pipeline and Forecasting Accuracy?

The fastest way to improve our forecasting accuracy is to solidify our qualifying metrics. We need our salespeople to know how to determine the stage a prospective client is in. And what obstacles need to be overcome to get them over the finish line. We need to get our entire sales team to use these metrics so we have dependable forecasts to work with.

16. Can We Improve Our Sales Culture?

As sales managers, we first need to define what our current sales culture looks like. To accomplish this we need to observe the behaviors of our salespeople. Are they qualifying accurately, are they following the sales process, are they going above and beyond the call of duty? From these real-world observations, we can determine the current sales culture.
Then and only then can we answer the question does our sales culture need to be improved? And more importantly, what should our sales culture be. The delta between what’s happening now in the culture we want allows us to create a plan to get there.

17. How Much More Effective Can Our Salespeople Be?

The first thing we need to determine is how effective each of our salespeople are. What are their strengths and their weaknesses? Then we ask questions that address their individual weaknesses like, “What if John could get twice as many meetings with decision-makers a month? How much more revenue would that add to the bottom-line?”
Ask these questions for each salesperson and you will figure out how much money your team is leaving on the table each year.

18. What Are the Short-term Priorities for Accelerated Growth?

One of the ways to continually improve your sales organizations is to ask, “what can we do in the next 90 days that’ll have a positive impact on our sales results.” This mindset will have an immediate positive impact on your revenue.

More Resources For Sales Managers

7 Ways Sales Managers Can Improve Their Communication Skills

What if Yogi Berra Was A Sales Manager?

7 Innovative Ways To Motivate Your Sales Team

Podcasts: Interviews With Sales Managers And Leaders

About the Author Umar Hameed

I am a performance coach who uses Applied Neuroscience to help individuals and teams break through their barriers so they become awesomer!

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