1. Director of Sales

    March 28, 2012 by christine


    We worked with an industry sector director of sales, who was taking longer than he had expected to transition from high performing account director to leading a sales team. He had spent his first twelve months in post doing what he did best – being the best salesperson on his team. Unfortunately, this limited team member autonomy and slowed down the sales cycle. By the end of the year his team was well below target, demoralised, and the director was exhausted. He realised this wasn’t sustainable and that, if he wanted to succeed, he had to start thinking like a leader and develop new expertise and skills.

    Through his Accelerated Success programme he was able to step back from operational issues and trust his very talented team to do their job. As a leader, he had to develop a sustainable vision and strategy which would enable long term success. The team needed to break out of the cycle of chasing every deal, just to make this quarter’s number, and the director had to stop micromanaging and start leading. With perseverance, he got to grips with formulating a vision and building a strategy. Then he cascaded this down to his team as clear goals, with milestones and a robust reporting framework. He coached and mentored individual team members in planning and problem solving but didn’t interfere with implementing solutions. And he made sure they had the necessary resources to do their job.

    By the end of his programme he had more closely aligned team goals with wider business goals and established longer term targets. These weren’t just for revenue but for targeting new clients where there was a good fit and better prospects for long term and productive relationships. He also understood that he needed to pay close attention to retaining his high performers and to recruiting new people who could deliver to his vision.

    It’s still early days for this director but he is getting results. He has a sound strategy for growth which is supported by his vice president. Team members are much more motivated, clearer about what they are doing and work with far greater autonomy. The director of sales is less stressed and confident he will learn to be as effective in his leadership role as he was as a team member.


  2. Director of Business Development

    by christine


    We worked with a newly appointed director of business development. The role was a new position in the company and it was a radical change from his previous job. Furthermore, it had been a number of years since he had directly managed a team. He now had to build and lead a new department, which had two years to be successful and meet revenue targets. He knew he needed to get a clear idea of what his new job was all about and to develop the capabilities to step up to the challenge. A big concern for him was how to be effective in the role and bring the best out in his new team.

    His Accelerated Success programme enabled him to step back from fire fighting – initially he behaved as though everything was important, so he tried to do everything. He realised he had to set specific time aside to think about strategy and the longer term in a more structured way. By thinking strategically about what he should be doing, he stopped wasting his time on jobs that were of no value.

    An important step was to improve communication and collaboration with his peers on the company’s management team. He improved his understanding of the sales directors’ pipelines and their plans for the next 12-24 months, and focused on integrating business development into the flow of information. Through doing this, he created a framework that minimised the number of gaps in communication, that had frequently led to problems for members of the management team in the past.

    Building these peer relationships enabled him to provide real leadership for his team too, getting them to think about the bigger picture and what they were trying to achieve with each prospect. The team has a weekly briefing so everyone knows what he or she has to focus on and the director knows his team’s activity is aligned. In particular, he was able to greatly reduce the amount of time they spent working on leads that were of no real substance, freeing up their time to focus on genuine prospects. The whole team is much clearer about what is expected of them, and they come across more professionally to prospective clients because they are well prepared for sales calls. As a result they provide more and better quality leads for the sales teams.

    The director of business development is now more effective than he was before his programme, and is enjoying himself more. He reports, ‘I’ve got much better use of my time and better use of my day, without working ridiculous hours. I can delegate in a thoughtful and planned way.’ And his boss said, ‘As an organisation we are in a much better position to execute for 2012. There is also more potential to develop the business development role. There was no blue print for this role before you (the director) took it on. Now other countries are putting in this role and they are coming to the UK for guidance.’

    His approach helps his boss in other ways too. Their one-to-one meetings are highly focused and tackle priority issues. They have a shorter list of things to discuss when they meet, which are the right things for the business to drive growth. They have also cleared time to focus on the important strategic alliances which will help them grow the business.

  3. Sales Director

    by christine


    We worked with a sales director in a systems solutions and professional services company. His team was successful but he knew he could get better results if he improved working relationships.

    At the start of his Accelerated Success programme the sales director recognised there was a silo mentality between sales and professional services. A lack of trust between key executives was slowing down the allocation of resources, and a general lack of cooperation between the two teams was impeding agility and affecting results. He therefore worked on his strategy to mend fences and demonstrate a genuine intention to collaborate. This meant careful planning for some difficult conversations and exploring conflict resolution techniques.

    It was hard going at first but his commitment to growing the business helped him succeed. Taking a pragmatic approach, he established a communication process which involved professional services much earlier in the sales cycle. This relieved the pressure on both teams and gave them time to plan resourcing of new opportunities more effectively. Where previously the sales director’s team had competed for resources and assigned blame, they developed trust and learned to collaborate with the professional services team. Over time, the professional services manager noticed that utilization rates with this sales director’s team were high. He therefore insisted his team work in the same way with all function leaders, which substantially increased his revenue.

    By changing his leadership style, the sales director shaped his entire team’s performance and also directly influenced improved performance of another function. This helped accelerate the sales cycle and the sales team’s contribution to UK revenue grew from 45% to 65%, an increase of approximately £7.5 million annually.

    A driven and very successful executive he has now been promoted into a Business Leader role within the organisation.

  4. Practice Leader

    by christine


    When leaders learn to focus on what adds most value in achieving business goals, they focus others around them too. That’s what happened when the leader of an overseas consulting practice in a rapidly growing market came to us. As part of a global company, his practice of 350 people had been set very challenging growth targets, and he wanted to free himself up to focus on strategy and empower his management team to take ownership of the operational side. However, his team was already working flat out, just not always on the right things. There were too many problems and distractions throwing them off course. The practice leader knew what he wanted to change, he just wasn’t sure how to make this happen.

    We customised an Accelerated Success programme, focused on helping him learn on the job how to grow the capability of his management team, enabling them to take to take the lead on operational issues. After a testing couple of years he also wanted to reinvigorate the practice, slow down attrition and get people excited about the future. So we worked with him on how to engage his team in this process.

    First steps included extending his delegation skills and how to pass important tasks onto the right people, at the right time and in the right way. As the programme coincided with the performance review cycle, we also worked on developing his coaching and feedback skills. We planned sessions with his people before he did them in the field, so the results he got were better and faster. Then we reviewed and refined his approach so that he could continue to develop it on the job. By extending his own capability this leader was also growing the company’s next generation of talent. When he paid attention to his own competence, he learned and consciously passed the lessons on to his team.

    We helped him learn how to engage his management team in creating a compelling vision for the practice, which was closely aligned with the direction of the organisation. He led his team through this process and then tasked each manager with repeating the process with their own team, thereby engaging more people in the new direction. As a result, team members got clear on how the practice aligned with the company globally, and what they needed to do individually to achieve practice goals. In 2010 the practice had its best year ever, and is now highly focused and continues to exceed targets.

  5. Financial Services Director of Sales

    by christine


    A financial services sales manager had been in the role for two years. He was successful and had a clear strategy for continuing to grow his part of the business by breaking into a new industry sector. He knew that how he performed as a leader would have a direct impact on his team and he knew he could stretch his people, delegate more of the sales execution, freeing him up to focus on strategy and the longer term.

    Changes in the team meant he had to fill vacancies and transition new people into the organisation. Furthermore, he had two less experienced people whom he would like to move into more challenging roles. He couldn’t afford to let execution on deals slip, because he had to make his quarterly targets. How could he continue to support his team and develop his own capability when his bandwidth was so limited?

    The Accelerated Success programme gave him space to reflect on what makes a good leader and how to foster high performance in his team. With his less experienced staff, this seasoned sales executive had relied heavily on directing the team. He’d seen most problems before and he didn’t have time to talk things through – feeling under pressure and short of time is the enemy of good coaching. We explored the value of directing versus taking more time, at least at first, to help individuals work out solutions for themselves.

    He learned the difference between mentoring and coaching, when to do one or the other, and he increased his ability to do both. When he coached he noticed this gave individuals an opportunity to figure out how to deal with the issue in the right way. They’d come up with the actions and they felt much better because they had worked out how to solve the problem themselves. He would help them look at the goal and where they were trying to get to, then look at the options for getting to that place, using questions to get the individual thinking for themselves. As a result, he started to get the breakthrough moments that you need in a sales situation.

    He reported, ‘We have to work closely together as a team to get results. There are things which enable us – trust and respect – and coaching my team developed that. It was satisfying for me to get to the end of a call or meeting, where I had people thinking and looking at different options and actions. I didn’t always have to jump in and tell people what to do.’

    His team learned how to win good, profitable, long term business: mega major accounts, which mean multi million dollar revenue year on year, if they do the job right. Winning new business is a key enabler for the company and although it is very hard to do, it can be done and his team does it.

    His final comment was, ‘This kind of performance is directly related to the team working in a certain way – that’s my belief. I was able to delegate effectively and empower my team, to be there to support them when needed but not smothering them. The benefit to the company is directly related to the bottom line.

We offer a free session to help you decide if working with us will extend your performance and deliver the results you want. The purpose of the session is for you to reflect on:

  • Your objectives for the next 12-24 months
  • The most important and challenging aspects of these objectives
  • What it would be most important for your part of the organisation to get better at, in order to achieve fully the business objectives.

You will also know if our accelerated success programmes are right for you.

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