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Providing Direction for your Sales Team

Many SME’s are not large enough to need a full-time VP or Director of Sales. But that level of insight and experience can make a lasting difference to the bottom line – even on a part-time or non-executive director basis.

One of the most common errors made in appointing not only sales leaders but leaders of any other function, is to look solely at their operational capability without giving serious thought to what they might be like as leaders and how to develop them for that role. Where a part time sales leader can help is providing the necessary leadership to ensure that the sales team operate effectively and also by defining what kind of in-house sales leadership is required.

A part time sales VP or sales director is what it says on the tin, they are there to direct, not to play the role of leading sales person. In an SME they are often there to help with marketing as well, helping identify how the company interacts with its market and its clients. Typical issues that sales directors handle include overall team effectiveness and skills, forecasting accuracy and the issues that underpin discrepancies, such as call planning, response times for enquiries, key account management, growth and retention.

Guy Fraser has over thirty years’ experience in leading sales, marketing, customer service and production teams, many of them multinational and multicultural. What the war stories show is  a manager who is a good listener, good at identifying strategic issues and actions that need to be taken and making sure they happen. Examples include identifying that the successor to a stricken aviation component business was to develop and a build a similar sized railway and a marine business because they demanded many of the same kind of engineering skills. A second example was recognising that two technical service teams servicing two separate platforms in 8 languages needed to be merged and cross-trained so that they could survive load fluctuations without stressing the employees or KPI performance data.

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Sometimes, a difficult market needs nothing more than a few good questions. Guy Fraser tells the story of how he turned a Cinderella product into the belle of the balance sheet by helping his team to understand their customers better.

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