Defensive? Yes. A little miffed? Yes. Critical? Yes. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard a Board of Director member say the CEO should fire a sales person or the V.P. of Sales; and this usually only after the poor person had only been in the job a few months. Instant sales success is just not a reality. Putting someone in with a “Rolodex” (see previous blog on return phone calls) rarely delivers on expectations. If a person is relying on their Rolodex to make sales they usually don’t have the fundamental skills to prospect, collaborate or attack a sales opportunity in a strategic fashion. But Board of Director members seem to know intuitively what a sales person should or shouldn’t be able to accomplish. Strange. My experience has been that most Board of Director members are financial managers. The old days of the successful entrepreneur as Board member seem to have disappeared.
We see this so often it is scary: executives with little to no sales experience, usually with an engineering background, managing and judging sales professionals. There are certainly people we have met that can manage salespeople and the sales process (yes there is one) without firsthand knowledge of sales. But this is the exception. Most need help in seeing the clues of sales progress, of the personal skill sets of “real” professional sales people and of how the sales cycle evolves and how to establish sales probabilities based on this cycle. The open, self assured executive knows what he/she doesn’t know. These are the ones that seek assistance.