Two weeks ago we released our study about how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the outlook for tech companies. In one question, we asked respondents to estimate when the tech market would see growth again. The largest group of respondents, forty-nine percent (49%), responded that it will take six to nine months for the tech market to begin to recover. That puts us right in the middle of Q4 2020, when most companies are scrambling to make their number, even in the best of years.
With that said, now might be a good time to evaluate whether or not you have the right sales leadership in place. Many of you may remember a pivotal scene in The Godfather when Michael Corleone decided to name a new Consigliere. In the scene, Michael told his adoptive brother, Tom Hagen, that he was being fired from the position, and moved to be the family lawyer in Vegas. Though Tom was absolutely loyal, Michael explained: “You’re not a wartime Consigliere, Tom. Things could get rough…”1
Right now, companies are being creative and tenacious relative to deal-making and sales. Some sales leaders are cut out for this and are making things happen. In fact, our study shows that over forty percent (40%) of companies are seeing little or no effect on sales. But, for the others, sales are slowing, or have come to a complete stop. Of course, some of this has to do with the product or industry, but in every case, sales leaders are going to have to show a tremendous amount of grit and tenacity to continue to close deals and make the number.
HBR published the seven attributes of the most effective sales leaders a few years ago2. These qualities are critical now, more than ever:
- Target fixation. The best sales leaders are target and deadline-driven. In personality testing, top sales managers scored 19% higher in the self-discipline facet, 20% higher in the success-driven facet, and 27% higher in the priority-focused facet than underperforming sales managers.
- Command instinct. Great sales leaders establish firm command over their team by exercising the power that their title and position entail.
- Hiring ability. The ability to hire quality talent will determine the success or failure of the sales organization.
- Sales intuition. Sales is a mentorship-based profession, and a key differentiator of great sales leaders is their ability to dispense tactical sales advice and add value during customer meetings.
- Control orientation. Sales managers who closely monitor and strictly enforce a sales process are more likely to exceed their quotas, and the best sales leaders seek to control the daily behavior of their sales teams.
- Coaching adaptability. Great sales leaders understand that there is a diversity of selling styles by which salespeople can achieve success.
- Strategic leadership. All sales leaders are battlefield commanders who must devise the organization’s sales strategy to defeat the competition.
So, you have to ask yourself: Do you have a wartime Consigliere? In tech, we’ve been fortunate to experience an up market for the last few years. But, going into the downside of the COVID-19 crisis, we are going to need strong sales leadership like never before. It’s going to be an interesting time as companies evaluate their teams, and move everyone to the place where they can contribute to the growth (or very survival) of their company.
We are working our network of top sales leaders so that when the time comes we can help you find a candidate that you can’t refuse (grin).
1 The Godfather, 1972, Paramount Pictures, re-released 1997 Viacom