The Importance of Sales Cadence
Today’s sales leader is expected to be part sales superstar who still closes deals and models the desired sales behaviors, part trainer, part CRM/ATS expert, part “chief problem solver,” and responsible for a plethora of other responsibilities including territory management, compensation and commission plans, performance management, recruitment and selection, customer segmentation, sales strategy, sales forecasting and opportunity management to name a few. Given such a multitude of responsibilities, the sales leader’s most pressing challenge is knowing which tasks and activities to focus on that will deliver the greatest return. The million-dollar question is, how do sales leaders know which tasks and activities those are? The answer lies in their sales cadence.
Let’s compare Sam, your typical sales leader with Donna, a high performing sales leader. and the characteristics that typify how they manage themselves and their sales teams.
Sam The Average Sales Leader
- Inconsistent and unpredictable schedule with no regularity
- Team members are often unsure of Sam’s coming’s and going’s
- Sam has a “yo-yo” effect with his team in which he bobs back and forth from “being in the business” and “being out of the business”
- Sam has good intentions but is unable to maintain a consistent schedule. After 2-3 weeks he starts showing up late, missing appointments and failing to meet his commitments
- Sales (team) meetings are infrequent and often get canceled with little or no notice and rarely get rescheduled
- The same topics are covered in the sales meetings but very few decisions are ever made
- Sales meetings are often characterized as “status updates” but the updates are nothing the team didn’t already know
- There is very little to no accountability. Opportunities and commitments from previous weeks are rarely followed up on
- Poor performance is acceptable. Sam has several sales reps and recruiters on his team who have been under performing for weeks and in some cases months. Because Sam is concerned with being liked by his team he doesn't hold people accountable
- Attracting and retaining "A" Players to Sam's team is very difficult, however average performers love working for him.
Donna, The High Performing Sales Leader
Donna on the other hand is predictable because she is consistent with her team in everything that she says and does. Her team knows exactly what she expects and team members know exactly where they stand with Donna.
- Sales pipeline review calls are conducted weekly. Donna knows the status of each opportunity, where the bottlenecks are and what the action plan is for each. Donna knows what each of her reps needs to do next to move the customer and opportunity down the sales funnel. She actively coaches them through those bottlenecks
- Sales forecasting calls are hosted every other week for Donna to track YTD sales quota attainment. Because Donna is already hosting a weekly sales pipeline review call, forecasting is much easier. Donna is informed of all new opportunities entering the funnel and ensures they are properly qualified.
- Sales coaching calls take place once per week with each sales rep without fail. Donna is in sync with each of her reps regarding their struggles, short-term and long-term goals and has an employee drive action plan for overcoming those struggles and professional development
- Performance reviews are conducted semi-annually in which subordinates share with Donna their accomplishments and how they’re performing against their sales activity, sales effectiveness and sales results
What is the difference between Sam and Donna? Donna has a sales cadence. A sales cadence defines your frequency, nature of and sequence for meeting with and engaging your sales team. Your sales cadence is rhythmic in nature and sets the tone for creating a high performing sales team. You could say your sales cadence is the backbone of your sales culture. The sales cadence is how sales leaders track and monitor progress and manage their sales team. A clearly defined and transparent sales cadence is a key success factor to sales leadership.
A good sales cadence takes into account the following elements.
- Daily Huddle: Fifteen minute daily stand up accountability meeting. What did you deliver yesterday, what will you deliver today, what help is needed, outstanding customer and employee issues.
- Sales Pipeline Review Calls: The leader and his or her reps meet weekly to review the pipeline to ensure there are enough qualified deals coming into the pipeline, what deals moved or changed from the prior week’s call, to identify the bottlenecks and discuss solutions for moving deals down the funnel.
- Sales Forecasting Calls: The bi-weekly sales forecast call highlights how accurately the sales team can predict sales results. The sales leader and their team focus on how accurately sales deals are tracking against sales goals or sales quota and indicates how well a sales rep truly understands their customers and their opportunities.
- Sales Coaching: All team members know they will get one-on-one time with their leader to deal storm on opportunities and discuss strategies for improving sales effectiveness. Good coaching that follows a consistent developmental coaching framework boosts confidence and improves performance.
- Performance Reviews: These happen bi-annually in which the sales leader meets with each rep individually to review performance against results and formulate action plans for improved results.
As I mentioned at the onset, the sales leader’s most pressing challenge is knowing which tasks and activities to focus on that will deliver the greatest return. Too much focus on rigor (bureaucratic rules, forms to complete and reports to run that ultimately don’t improve sales results) will alienate your sales team and fail to deliver the desired results and too little discipline (as we saw with Sam) will create a culture of mediocrity where poor performance is acceptable. Having a sales cadence is the only thing that will ensure a sales leader can consistently achieve all that is asked, maintain order, and optimize performance. Because your sales cadence establishes the priorities, action items, timing, and approach for the sales leader, a cadence is critical to achieving consistent sales results. This ongoing management process helps keep track of things on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual basis.
What is your sales cadence and is it more indicative of Sam or Donna?
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.