Do you ever wonder what the boss really thinks about you as the Sales Leader? Finding out what your boss thinks can be a delicate and challenging task. While most people fear the overly blunt, critical boss, an excessively nice or evasive boss can be just as frustrating. So here are the top three things your boss thinks about you.
Have you have heard your boss say or ask "Where is the next growth opportunity coming from?" Or "I want you to put the company first and not just focus on the next deal." Or "What markets do we need to look at to beat our competition?" or even "What new products or services do we need to provide to stand out?"
What your boss is really hinting is they wish you thought more strategically. Your boss wants you to always be thinking ahead and about what you can do to improve the company. Strategic skills are not needed only in times of growth. They are also needed during tough times, like when there's a pandemic or stretched resources.
According to ArchPoint, "Fewer than 10% of organizational leaders exhibit strategic skills." However, you can do several things to increase your strategic thinking abilities, such as:
It requires taking a broad view, involving the right people, with important information and perspectives. You must ask probing questions and facilitate conversations and conflicts. This will help you identify connections, patterns, and key issues.
Thinking strategically involves taking decisive actions that are consistent with the strategic direction of the company. When making decisions, make sure you always have the company's best interest in mind.
By managing the tension between success in daily tasks and success in the long term, you create a balance of direction and credibility. This will increase your team's ability to learn from their actions and allow you to reward the appropriate level of risk-taking.
Strategic leaders are good at challenging prevailing views without causing an uproar. They act on the big and small pictures simultaneously, and lead with deeply held humility and respect for their teams.
Your boss is tired of inaccurate forecasts. Not every CEO will know the difference between the pipeline and your estimates. The information you are giving them can easily be misinterpreted. So, you will want to communicate what they need to see. Most will want to know what they can bank on and do not need to see every opportunity from every stage – that's just noise. Discuss, so you are on the same page. Let them know what you are confident will close, including the timing and where you still need more information. Making business decisions based on your forecast and estimating too high or too low can cause significant issues.
If you can accurately forecast sales, by volume, by product or service type, and time of year, then you can allow for planned and unplanned expenses, like a pandemic or lockdown, to occur without stress.
Having an accurate forecast allows you to increase staff during your busy periods and to reduce staff when needed. You'll also be able to harness marketing efforts better and not have to worry about the cost.
In addition, accurate sales and forecasting provides awareness to production to ensure your customers have products when they need them. Opportunities can be missed if your customers aren't happy because you couldn't deliver.
There are three kinds of salespeople when it comes to reporting forecasts. There is the overly optimistic, the sandbagger, and the perfectionist.
Recognize publicly those on your team who are accurate. Nobody wants to be just 40% accurate on their forecast, and visibility can improve their efforts.
When it comes to forecasts that are indeed accurate but still below expectations for that salesperson. You can use that time as a coachable moment and focus on helping that salesperson get back on track, rather than remind them that they are failing.
An accurate sales forecast should not demotivate or discourage you or your team. On the contrary, it should encourage you to push the boundaries and hone your skills at making better predictions for the months and years to come.
Most CEOs did not come up through sales, and they are looking at you to be the expert. They want you to define what good looks like.
You can demonstrate this by being proactive. Explain to your boss how many opportunities there are and where they came from. Also, clarify how you plan to grow, define your best initiative, and communicate regularly and realistically.
According to SIS International Research, "organizations can lose more than $525,000 annually due to ineffective manager-employee communication." That is a lot of money that can quickly be gained if you talk to your boss more. Having a regularly scheduled one-on-one meeting with your boss is important but can often fall off the radar. Without them, you can get out of alignment.
Having an agenda for every one-on-one meeting is vital. You want to cover only relevant topics and not get sidetracked talking about the latest deal. It also ensures that the meeting starts and ends on time instead of being stuck in an unproductive meeting.
Effective upward communication creates a healthy work environment and results in a more engaged workforce.
Now you know that your CEO wants you to think more strategically – keeping the business your number one priority. They want an accurate forecast and may need you to explain the difference between a pipeline and a forecast. Your CEO also wants you to be more proactive and communicate what good looks like because they see you as the expert.