Job description for the 21st Century Sales Leader

So much is different. So much is the same.

Today’s Sales Leader needs to have all kinds of knowledge and skills that couldn’t even be defined 10 or 15 years ago – the technology that brought these things into existence simply did not exist. That’s in addition to a whole host of knowledge and skills that have been hallmarks of the sales leader’s job requirements for decades.

salesVPSo here you are – the executive to whom the Sales Leader reports… Or maybe you are a Sales Leader who has been asked for an opinion… What goes into the job description? What metrics should be used to determine the sales leader’s bonus? My opinion follows (with a bit of extra commentary.)

A. Responsibilities

1. Sales Process Engineering

Ensure sales force buy-in to a clearly defined and documented sales process that supports the organization’s goals, objectives and strategies. Continuously improve the quality of that sales process, train the sales force on it and provide tools to assist with its execution.. (This cannot be accomplished without a very clear sales strategy and a never-ending willingness to change. More info on SPE here.)

2. Opportunities & Obstacles Management

Maintain a program to identify and address the Top 5 Opportunities we as an organization are positioned to exploit. Maintain a program to identify and address the Top 5 Obstacles that inhibit greater sales achievement. (“O & O” is critical to ensure continued focus on the important vs. the urgent.) Use these two programs to manage the linkage between Sales and Marketing.

3. Sales Process Media

Develop and deploy digital media (text, image, audio and video) that supports and offloads work from the sales force. Coordinate SPM actions with Marketing. (The perspective needed for effective use of SPM follows:  “Our mission is to remove the human element from sales. We know we will never achieve it. But in pursuing it we will demolish sales process obstacles.” More info on SPM here.)

4. Sales IT

Work closely with IT resources to ensure adequate systems are in place to support Sales Operations. Ensure that these systems are fully utilized. These systems specifically include, but are not limited to a robust CRM system and Sales Process Media Platform.

5. Leadership

Maintain adequate staffing of the Sales Department. Minimize turnover of the top 50% of performers. Coach weak performers up to at least average performance or out of the organization. (Great sales leadership results in top performers who continuously improve, are highly satisfied with their jobs and have zero desire to go elsewhere. Notice the wording here addresses “what” needs to be accomplished, not “how” to accomplish it.)

B. Metrics

1. Financial

(Some things will never change!)

  • Meet or exceed revenue target
  • Meet or exceed profit target
  • Meet or beat expense target

2. Sales Process

  • Sales Forecast Accuracy (An accurate forecast is dependent on effective use of the CRM system to track sales opportunities, which in turn means the sales force has bought into the sales process. This is the critical metric for judging the effectiveness of Sales Process Engineering.)
  • Funnel Performance (These are the critical metrics for judging the effectiveness of Sales Process Media. Better performance on any of these metrics means that sales work is being offloaded to SPM, enabling sales personnel to become more productive. It is also a deeper-level set of metrics for judging the effectiveness of Sales Process Engineering.)
    • Number of active opportunities per stage
    • $ Value of active opportunities per stage
    • % of opportunities advanced by stage
    • Cycle time by stage

3. Leadership

(Together, these two metrics ensure that the right number of the right people are “on the bus” and “stay on the bus.”)

  • Headcount Plan Met (Yes or No)
  • Sales force turnover

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