Real Leaders

A Sales Leadership Framework? Absolutely!

Successful team. Group of cheerful young people discussing something with smile and gesturing while leaning to the table in office

Think back to the day you first were promoted into a sales leadership role. How did you think your life would change? What did you think the job was going to be?   

When my CEO called me to inform me that my goal of running a sales organization was now becoming a reality, it was one of the most exciting accomplishments in my life. I remember the phone call. We had a small team, the VP of Worldwide Sales had just departed, and I was now in charge.  

I had no previous training. There was no leadership enablement program. And sales leadership? Another animal altogether. My schooling on leadership was from watching others and taking what I liked about the approaches from the good ones.  

But what was the job to be done? I know I had a target to hit and a team to get us there. But what did that mean? I’d always had a process and structure in sales. Where was my sales leadership process and structure?   

Gartner defines sales leadership as “the discipline of guiding the strategic direction of the sales function and managing the sales organization to achieve commercial objectives.”  

The discipline of guiding the strategic direction of the sales function? That’s intense…but with what?  

Are you building a team? Maintaining one? Growing one? Motivating one? Leading many, who are led by other leaders?  

Sales leadership structure either doesn’t exist, or it’s so convoluted through psychology and coaching science that it’s missing its responsibility — to achieve commercial objectives.  

The reality of that conundrum became apparent within 48 hours of stepping into my new role. I was immediately transformed into a dog chasing a car down the road, never knowing where it or I was headed. Left turn to a recruiting task. Right turn to a pipeline issue. Another left, but this time it’s down angry customer lane.  

It’s no way to live, and I’m far too much of a systems nerd to survive in such an environment. So I created a structure. It became my way to think through my day, to plan and to strategize. I applied it in my communication to my CEO and board, to my direct reports, and across the organization in all-hands meetings and discussions with peers. 

It’s easy. It’s alliterative. And once internalized, I stopped chasing and started growing. It made me sound smart, too. (I could use all the help I could get).  

I dubbed my framework the Five F’s of Building Revenue Capacity.  

As a revenue leader, everything you’re responsible for falls into one of five categories —initially and ongoing. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first leadership role or twentieth.  

These are the Five F’s of sales leadership: 

1. Focus: You have an initial and ongoing responsibility to ensure your team is using their most valuable resource — their time — in the most effective way possible. That means ensuring the team is working on the right opportunities in the right regions at the right time using the right firmographics, demographics, and pre-requisites. 

2. Field: You have an initial and ongoing responsibility to ensure your field organization is the right one, with the right tools and the right resources, to maximize effectiveness, efficiency and output based on your “Focus.”  

3. Fundamentals: You have to always make sure your team is doing the right things right…consistently. This includes qualification, discovery, positioning, prospecting skills, presentations, negotiations, time management, and so on. 

4. Forecast: You have a responsibility to predict the future by honing your and your organization’s ability to forecast with greater accuracy along with the KPIs (key performance indicators). 

5. Fun: It’s you who creates, cultivates, and grows the culture of your environment so that your team has fun every day and maximizes their intrinsic inspiration for what they do. In a fun culture, they show up each day, stay, do their best, and become advocates for you and your organization. 

While they may sound clever, once you internalize the Five F’s of Building Capacity Revenue you’ll be ahead of 98 percent of the revenue leadership who don’t have a structure. Additionally, you could quite literally create a 30/60/90-day plan using the structure. It can be your agenda for your one-on-ones with your direct reports or your boss. I used it for interviews and interviewing, as an agenda for board meetings, and even as the structure for doing due diligence on potential acquisitions. 

Over the years, I optimized each category through behavioral science, application, and practice. It was my sales and revenue leadership framework. 

You’ll see the holes before they form. You’ll have a consistent language in your organizations. You’ll stand out.