your role and how to become a successful professional – WAU
The sales director directs and manages the commercial strength of a business, defining strategies, following indicators, leading the team and offering support to the CEO. Thus, this professional has a direct influence on the direction of the company. See how to optimize this function.
Whatever the size of a company, having a sales director responsible for commercial strategies is crucial to the success of the area that is considered a driving force in the business.
The sales sector influences the pace of production, can prevent the company from suffering from economic downturns and guarantees the successful expansion into new markets. In addition, it is responsible for everything that converts the investment and efforts of different areas of the business into profit.
The professional who heads this sector, therefore, must understand like no one else the weaknesses and strengths pointed out in the SWOT analysis of the business and have a work dynamic focused on high performance and results.
To translate these responsibilities into business practices, in this post we will cover the details of the sales director’s role and the most effective strategies to optimize his performance. Follow!
What roles are assigned to the sales director?
Finding a good sales director is not a simple task and neither is forming one. This is because their duties are broad, requiring both technical knowledge of negotiation and personal skills to know how to engage a team.
See some of its main functions.
Definition of the department’s strategies
The sales director acts as a football team coach. In each game, depending on the particularities of the game, he defines a strategy, whether to build a more defensive team or to concentrate more on the attack.
In the corporate world, the sales director calibrates his team according to the characteristics of the negotiation.
Selling a more complex product, such as ERP software or machinery to a factory, for example, requires more consultative negotiation and requires building a long-term relationship with the customer.
ERP, for example, is one of the most used systems in companies, as pointed out by Tech Trends 2018. In all, 29.1% of its respondents use the tool. But, in view of their complexity and price, they demand a prolonged sales process.
This is the case for most B2B sales and luxury markets, such as imported cars, private planes or Internet of Things (IoT) technology for home use.
Retail sales, with products with lower values and many competitors, on the other hand, require a more agile, incisive conversion strategy that exploits mental triggers, those that make the customer make a decision more quickly considering the sense of urgency, exclusivity, among others.
It is important to say that the strategy also considers the planning and direction of the business. If a company is launching a new product, for example, targeting a market share will certainly be one of the goals of the commercial area.
Monitoring of performance indicators
The profit percentage on some products is minimal, which requires high sales performance. Others have high selling prices, lower trading volume and, therefore, higher profit margins on each conversion.
That is, in large volume or not, sales need to be monitored and calibrated so that they bring the expected return for the business. For this, performance indicators (KPIs) are the most valuable control tool.
Among the main indicators, we can mention:
- sales opportunities: it can also be called “generated leads” and tracks the number of potential customers who were captured at an event, marketing campaign, etc;
- conversion rate: it is an efficiency indicator that tracks the number of sales made considering the volume of approaches made;
- average ticket: is how much each customer, on average, buys in the company. Thus, total revenue is divided by the number of sales. Demonstrates adherence to products and the success of sales strategies and tactics for the already established buyer base;
- Costumer Lifetime Value (CLV): for companies dealing with complex sales, this indicator points to the relationship between what was invested to win the customer, how much he buys and the time he remains making new acquisitions. Thus, the longer your relationship with the company, the more diluted the customer’s acquisition costs and the greater the profit provided.
Also considered to be important KPIs are those that are more objective, such as the number of sales made. All of them must be monitored to have an overview of the sector, and also individually, in the performance of each salesperson on the team.
By the way, the indicators can be used to define goal plans and indicate the need for training or feedback for any employee. These are the duties of the sales director who, analyzing the business planning and objectives, stipulates what the salespeople should focus on in each commercial cycle and makes interventions to optimize their performance.
Support to the company’s CEO
This definition of goal plans, however, can only be carried out efficiently if it is in line with company guidelines, right?
For this, the sales director needs to report to the company’s CEO. In fact, in his role, it is very likely that he himself has goals to be met and analyzed by his superior.
Thus, when doing the company’s annual planning, the CEO needs to know the potential of the commercial sector. It is necessary to know if the department has the capacity for its future projects or if it is necessary to make new investments so that the area is able to meet the new demand.
Together, CEO and sales director can evaluate the commercial strategies outlined, as well as identify improvements and corrections which will ensure that they are aligned with the company’s values, such as sustainability, for example.
Until then, we talked about his responsibilities as to what the company expects of him, but there are also expectations of his employees in relation to his actions: to be a leader.
In this case, it is not the company that expects a manager be a leader, but the team of commanders. They demand a reference, someone they can trust within the company, an example to be followed.
A good leader knows how to delegate projects and challenges according to the skills of his team, and sometimes transfers the leadership to those who demonstrate more knowledge at a given stage.
When making decisions, it is objective and inspires your team, that is, it conveys the confidence they need to act according to your guidelines.
A “boss” cannot practice this approach and what happens most of the time is that he imposes his orders. Thus, the strategy behind them is not understood by the team.
That way, he doesn’t earn his team’s trust, nor does he inspire or empathize. Consequently, employee turnover increases, which ends up influencing the quality of services.
Human talent recruitment and development
The high turnover of a sector such as the commercial area has strong influence on performance. For this reason, it is also the responsibility of the manager, in conjunction with HR, to create a process for recruiting, developing and retaining talent.
Understand each of these elements:
- recruitment: it is necessary to delimit what are the characteristics and skills necessary to integrate the sales team. A standard for the profile can be established, but, occasionally, you should further customize what you are looking for;
- development: a recycling training schedule for employees must be established. Holding alignment meetings or kickoffs on a regular basis also contributes to the management of the sector and helps to identify and recognize the team’s talents;
- retaining talent: decrease turnover it’s very important, but retaining those professionals with differentiated performance and knowledge is essential for the company to remain competitive and innovative, in addition to being a way of guaranteeing the future managers of the organization.
In other words, the sales director has a decisive role in people management, not only in commercial conversions.
How to optimize your performance as a sales director?
Knowing your company, products and sales team are the starting points for having a good performance as a director of this sector. Have sales skills too, although it is not a priority feature.
But why? Let’s look at some good practices for improving the performance of the sales director to explain this apparent contradiction.
Properly delegate sector activities
The goals plan is a very efficient tool to determine how much each professional should perform, but, if not properly calibrated, it can direct the sales force in another direction or leave the team unmotivated due to difficult requirements to be met.
This can happen especially in companies that have a larger product mix. In this case, the goals plan developed by the director must specify how many items are to be traded and not just a total volume of negotiations, ensuring the inventory turnover of all items and the success of the pricing strategy.
Lead by example
Acting in the most important sales, demonstrating how to deal with critical situations with customers and having perseverance with the goals is essential.
But it is also necessary to remember that, in addition to sales, the human and behavioral aspects of the team are also the responsibility of the area director.
That is, he must be a good salesman, but also a good people manager. You should also be an example to your team in all these perspectives of your role.
Many functions in the commercial and marketing area have been automated, but the most important part of the sales area still requires the feeling of its employees. This includes developing business strategies and tactics.
It is necessary to evaluate the competition, focus on reducing commercial costs, align the actions together with the marketing area, understand how the team’s skills can be used and use technology in favor of the business. To put it all together, only with strategic and innovative thinking, isn’t it?
Have good communication skills
It is not enough to think strategically and develop incredible sales tactics without knowing how to transmit such lessons and news from the sector to your team and the company in general.
The sales director must have communication skills to convey his or her guidelines in a clear and engaging manner. Thus, in addition to explaining how to do it, your speech should also be motivating.
Master techniques to give constructive feedbacks
Engagement and motivation should also be part of your techniques for giving feedback to your employees.
Giving feedback is essential to correct commercial addictions and positions that are not suitable for each professional. This helps to keep the sales force aligned and in the right direction.
But, as it is a relationship between two people, emotions can take over that moment. Therefore, the sales manager must know how to approach the development points of his collaborators together with praise for his skills.
Thus, it will be clear that there is a desire to help in its development, as well as the recognition of their contributions to the company’s results.
Exercising the role of sales director, over the years, the professional will have a greater mastery of his market and will get to know his team and duties better. However, it cannot and should not accommodate.
It is essential to improve your technical and management knowledge regularly with courses, specializations and regular readings. Some books are classics in the commercial area and others bring new trends and more innovative strategies of recent times.
If you are a sales director or are about to become one, you need to know some of them. Check out the selection of 20 books we have put together for those who want to succeed in the commercial area and see which one still needs to read.