A productive Sales VP needs to have a really good understanding of the team and the sales environment. To better understand the sales team and the sales cycle. We recommend sales VPs to ask three questions to themselves and their employees frequently. These questions help ensure that the sales team members know how they can improve their skills so that they can achieve their individual and team goals more productively while adapting to the fast-paced changing sales environment.

Are you a newly on-boarded Sales VP at an SMB, or an experienced one? Whatever which you are, you play a vital role to lead an agile team to yield concrete sales results in a fast-paced changing environment. You have been trusted by the CEO because you have been leading sales teams to crush goals. Since time and resources are limited,  you properly did not receive a lot of training, unless you work at a big corporation that provides a month-long onboarding training. Undoubtedly, the company wants you to bring insights and lead them to attain ambitious goals. However,  achieving sales success as a team is totally different from as an individual, especially when you have not been taught to coach other members. Yet, you are not alone. We are here to guide you through the transition. 

There are three missions you need to get done, namely Product, Process, and People. One good aspect is that Product is a relatively easy game. You can get familiar with it quickly with several demos and with your marketplace insights. Process and People, on the other hand, would create challenges consistently in the future if you do not contemplate them carefully. Therefore, honest conversations with employees will help you integrate yourself into the job more easily. This should not be a one-time effort. Other than your regular conversations with your sales managers, you should ask them the following questions. They will assist you to find solutions as you dig deeper into the problems.

Question 1: Have sales cycles become longer and prevented you from closing more deals? 

Research from SiriusDecisions shows that the sales cycle has increased by almost 25% in the past six years. Longer sales cycles naturally lead to lower profit as well as drops in the number of closed deals since your leads will be exposed to more alternative solutions over that time, which might develop resistance to your offer. 

Considering how the optimized sales process boosts sales, you may think that it is too cliche to continuously polish the process. In reality, 82% of all CEOs said their sales organization had a process that was poorly defined or followed. An informal sales process increases the chance of missing follow-ups or losing leverageable customer data. Meanwhile, an optimized process needs to be strictly followed by every sales representative to maximize the process’s effectiveness. On the strategic level, your managers and you need to modify the process so it fits the modern B2B trend of personalization. When implementing the process, you need to ask questions such as, “how your managers keep track of whether the SDRs follow the routine of logging notes, gathering research, and sending follow-up messages?”; “Is all information digitized and available for all to access from different devices?’; “Have they utilized integration technology to simplify the researching process?”. You can consider using automation tools to boost productivity if they haven’t used them. 

Question 2:  Do your employees have the right skill sets and tools to sell? 

Have you ever lost opportunities to close deals because your sales representatives lack consultative selling, qualifying, and deals closing skills? Identifying the skill gap is significant in human resource management. According to research, 42% of CEOs said their salespeople lacked the basic essential skills to do their job properly. It is crucial to observe top performers’ sales routine and promote coaching that can replicate the revenues brought by those skills. Basic sales skills entail different aspects, but they come down to whether or not they can successfully identify prospects’ hesitance, instead of letting their resistance set in. If that is the reason why your representatives struggle with hitting the quota, you need to equip them with skills to tailor talking points based on each client’s situation. If they can come up with questions about the problem that the client cannot solve by themselves, and then explain how your product will take care of that, the sales conversion rate will surely increase. 

Question 3: What is the sales target of each representative, but more importantly, what are their personal goals? 

After the topics we discussed, economic context and market trend render sales reality fluctuated, so should your monthly, quarterly, and annual target be. Setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) goals based on the sales environment is important. One of your core jobs as a sales VP is to motivate your employees by aligning their personal goals with corporate goals. If you can let them realize what motivates them to wake up in the morning and how they excel at their current tasks will ultimately help them to attain valuable goals, you will root out the productivity problem. 

It will only benefit you if you can assist to overcome obstacles that hinder your employee to grow, with your professional experience and industry knowledge. Moreover, The best way to start on the right track is to generously ask “how can I help you overcome what’s been bugging you on your mind?”

Parting Thought 

To recap, sales VPs like you face a variety of challenges when they first transition to a management position. To ace the leadership, you should definitely “over-communicate”  with your managers and SDRs to establish a coaching culture. Knowing what they need, simplifying processes that do not complement their specialty in selling, investing in the right tools, offering values to help, you will be in perfect shape to harvest a fruitful career.  

Closing notes

Undoubtedly, communication between Sales VPs and the sales team is very important. To make the communication more effective, the Sales VP needs to ask specific questions to identify what the team can work on to improve their sales performance. Meanwhile, the team needs to adapt to the constantly changing sales environment. It was mentioned earlier that the lack of sales skills of the sales representative is an issue. Sales VPs can provide software tools like 1Page to narrow the skill gap. It is because 1Page generates sales meeting material for sales representatives so that they can rely on the application when preparing for meetings. So why don’t you start asking those three questions every day and lead the team to the right track?