Fractional leadership is the practice of using an external, well-versed expert (also known as a C-level executive) to fill leadership gaps in your business on an interim, part-time basis.
The way it usually starts when you’re a business owner is that you recognize there's just not enough of you to go around. With each lost sales opportunity, or lack of volume through the sales pipeline, the gap is growing between where you’re at and your revenue targets. You seem to be the only one who can make the process work.
As the top executive, you are already wearing too many hats, and you realize you can’t keep overseeing sales while handling all the other aspects of your business. Maybe you don't have an effective sales manager leading your team, or perhaps you don't have a sales leader in place at all. If your sales team hasn’t been performing the way you know it should, it might be time to consider taking new action.
So, what should you do? Let's explore the options:
You can keep doing what you’re doing and try to work smarter.
No matter the issue, this is always an option. You can keep true to the strategy you think will win. It will take some extra time to sit down and focus, but you might be able to get the company going in the right direction.
To yield different results than the ones you’re seeing now, you will need to identify the issues that are currently hindering success and develop a plan to correct them. Just as important, you will need to dedicate hands-on sales coaching time to help your sales team embrace and apply new approaches until they can achieve desired results on their own.
You can explore sales training options.
Proven sales trainers are great at what they do: introducing and simulating standardized sales process best practices. This can be challenging considering different salespeople seldom need the same type of training, and sales trainers are not typically skilled in addressing the personalized issues occurring in your sales environment.
If you think getting back to the basics — like refreshing your relationship development methods and objection handling tactics — will hit the heart of what’s causing sales performance problems, this could be the right option.
You can hire a full-time sales manager.
A dedicated sales manager is a great asset when the timing is right and a solid sales platform is in place. The common misstep here is underestimating the scope of skills needed to address the complete sales leadership “iceberg.”
Effective sales leadership includes both tactical and strategic elements. While both are critical to success, hiring a sales leader capable of managing the full scope of tactical and strategic elements can be cost-prohibitive for a small or mid-sized business. And, while these advanced skills are critical, they are only needed for a fraction of the time versus the time necessary to operate the sales department. After you’ve addressed deep-level strategic functions, a capable sales manager with strong tactical skills can be positioned for success at a reasonable investment rate. These candidates are also more likely to stay with your company long-term.
You can hire an executive-level fractional sales leader.
Business consultants follow ready-made plans or provide high-level advice that falls on your lap to execute. All the while, fractional sales leaders leverage real-life, executive-level experience to help you develop, implement, and operate the new concepts and systems. We have extensive knowledge when it comes to developing strategy and accountability tools, evaluating sales personnel, knowing the ins and outs of hiring the right salespeople, and more.
We take a deep dive into your business, then build out a sustainable, strategic plan. Once you're ready to implement, we will work with you, as a partner, to put your tailor-made blueprint into action. When our partnership is complete, you will understand exactly what will drive your business to success and feel confident in your ability to carry it forward to achieve scalable growth.
How does fractional sales leadership work?
At this point, you're probably thinking, "Sure, a fractional sales leader sounds great, but what exactly will you do to help me?" Well, because every business is different and each battle has its own unique obstacles, there's no single way to answer that question. As fractional sales leaders, we've worked with hundreds of large and small companies alike, giving us the edge of easily adapting and understanding many business environments.
Our relationship will likely look different from organization to organization; it honestly depends on what you need. We may work together on something as small as a workshop, or you could bring us in to solve a specific problem within your sales department. We can even fulfill an interim sales leadership role through regular, on-site engagement. Ultimately, the level of our involvement directly corresponds to your business needs.
If you’d like to discuss the improvement you'd like to see in your business, contact me at email@example.com.
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I am part of a national group of Senior Sales Leaders who collaborate to share insights like the examples shown in this article. We formed because of our shared passion to help business leaders exponentially grow their revenue.