How an Interim Manager can Help a Struggling Sales Team
Good business development is integral to success, so what if your sales team is struggling? Here’s how an interim manager can save you from going on a firing spree.
Business Development is never easy. It takes very healthy dose of tenacity to be successful, and even then, many BD teams struggle to convert their efforts.
Some organisations’ response to this is to fire and re-hire – let go of dead weights and bring in fresh recruits in the hope they will do a better job. This may work in the short term, but in the long run, a quality overriding strategy is essential for ongoing success. An interim manager experienced in sales strategy and process can put the engine under a flailing business development team.
An objective view
One of the most important benefits of interim managers is that they are objectively minded. They are not embedded in company politics, so can take a no-nonsense view of what works, what doesn’t and how changes could be made. They will be able to identify a company’s unique challenges, strengths and weaknesses, and ways to address them.
In this identification period, an interim manager will look at your entire BD and sales cycle to ensure a robust business model is in place. This is not only from a strategic point of view, but also from an operational perspective too. Looking closely at your conversion journey and how your team conduct themselves can reveal some fascinating insights – and also some of the weaknesses in your methodology.
Questions the interim will ask at this stage may be:
- What is your current business development strategy?
- Is your team doing the necessary groundwork to deliver?
- Is every member of the team properly trained?
- Do you have clearly defined processes in place?
- Are customers receiving a high quality service?
- Is your marketing department as supportive and targeted as it could be?
- These are simple questions at face-value, but may be hard to answer in relation to your own business. Answering them honestly will allow for problems in the pipeline to be resolved quickly.
These are tough questions that touch every area of the business, but answering them will allow you to identify problems quickly.
Once the issues are drawn out, an interim manager can suggest ways to tackle them. This is done through:
- Strategy review – a clear, universally understood strategy is non-negotiable. If your organisation already has one, the review might involve tweaking it to improve pipeline and conversion rates. Sometimes, it only takes a small change to greatly improve results. If the existing strategy is loose or lacks clarity, a whole new approach might be proposed.
- Process and culture – a good strategy is nothing without solid processes and actions to back it up. Issues in the sales cycle or the attitude of the team should be weeded out and resolved. This could include scheduling more team meetings, arranging training or setting targets. It will also involve actively changing the thinking of the workforce, as old habits are hard to shift. This is down to leadership to motivate and inspire.
Successful sales people make for a successful sales team, but even the best need proper strategy and process behind them. Bringing in someone who can assess your organisation objectively could save you from some difficult conversations. Changes to strategy, process and ways of working has the potential to see your current team bring in more business than they ever have before.