As CEO, I first have to define the goals of my company and then create a strategy that is ‘fit for purpose’ to deliver those goals. The next step is to make sure that the strategy is communicated. This is what my responsibility is as a CEO.
The next thing of course, is the question of whether my Sales Leaders have the operational plans to deliver on that strategy. An operational plan describes what is expected from each sales person, in terms of revenue, with what margin, and KPIs. And so again, the question there is – is what has been created in the operational plan fit for purpose, is it realistic, and going to deliver the outcomes we need?
Once our sales managers have created that operational plans, as a CEO I would like to make sure that the systems are in place to measure a number of things so I can keep my finger on the progress pulse.
The first thing is that I want regular revenue reporting. That can be weekly, monthly or whatever suits my situation the best, depending on the length of the sales cycles and other factors that I need to consider.
Revenue reporting allows me to look in the rear vision mirror at what has already occurred. The revenue we realise today, is the result of our sales activities in the past.
The next report I need, should give me an understanding of what future revenue I can expect, a forecast of future revenue can only be achieved by measuring quality activity that we know leads to sales results. This is why KPIs were developed. Also, if important, I may want the reporting to be split between existing clients and new clients. A critically important point about the forecast, is that the information needs to be reliable. It is very easy to sometimes receive an optimistic forecast, however if it is not something we can rely upon, then we will find out in a few months that it was of very little value to us.
Another thing I would like to know is whether my sales managers and sales teams are on top of the contracts we have in place with existing accounts. Are there regular account meetings? Is there regular customer satisfaction reporting and the highlighting of important exceptions to the relationships with those important clients and contracts, that I need to know as CEO, as this affects my future revenue?
The feedback can be positive, like expanding sales in existing contracts, but it can also be that a major account is up for renewal or they are dissatisfied with our service. I want to be sure that several months prior to contract expiry, that my sales team are gearing up for the contract renewal and securing a new contract before the expiry date has been reached. There may even be a role for me as the CEO to meet with our client’s CEO to help cement the good relationship and prepare for the extension of the current contract. This is all important information for me as CEO to know about, before it turns into a situation that is too late to rectify!
So, we have the following questions to answer:
- Are our goals defined?
- Is there a strategy in place, and is it fit for purpose?
- Has the strategy been communicated effectively?
- Have the sales managers created operational plans that will deliver the strategy, and are they realistic?
- Is revenue reporting in place and are we progressing in line with the budget?
- Is revenue forecast reporting in place, is there enough revenue expected to come in, in the next few months, and is this information reliable?
- Is there reporting in place about existing accounts and about winning new accounts?
- Are the activity levels in line with the expectations?
- Are the sales departments on top of contract renewals?
If we answer “Yes” to all the above questions, we are well on track to meet our revenue target, and as CEO I just have to continue monitoring closely.
However, if any of these questions are answered with a “No”, then we potentially need more in-depth analysis to be able to address the underlaying issues and take corrective actions.
These issues and corrective actions can relate to processes and systems, but more often than not, they relate to the people in the sales departments, including the sales managers.
An in-depth skills capability assessment should be conducted on your Sales leaders and Sales teams to see if they have the skills to deliver the results you require of them. Then you can decide on whether they need more training or whether you need to find more skilled people.