What Key Skills Set Senior Sales Executives Apart?

What key skills help get senior sales executives promoted?What key skills help get senior sales executives promoted?

Last week, we started talking about why senior sales executives rarely get the CEO position in their organizations.  Today, we discuss what you can do to increase your odds of getting that top spot, if you want it!

One of the reasons senior sales executives don’t get the top job is they seem like they don’t understand the other key disciplines required to be a great organizational leaders. Many senior sales executives are dismissed by their peers because they lack the financial or technology skills required to understand how to lead the organization. If you don’t understand finance, you will struggle to be seen as a senior organizational leader. The same could be said about knowing how to leverage new technologies to increase sales, profits, and speed to market.

Many senior sales executives come to their meetings unprepared to defend their position with facts and figures. They think their stronger personality will come out on top. They are great communicators and are almost overly dependent on their ability to sell their ideas to carry the day. Today, most senior leaders rely heavily on facts when trying to make the difficult decisions.

The successful senior sales executives that have that moved up to the CEO position have learned how to use technology as well as any other person on the leadership team. For many years, companies invested in different sales technologies only to see it not being used by the sales team. As we see more sales analytics being used in the markets, it becomes even more important that you and your team use the right technologies.

These successful senior sales executives must be able to challenge others leaders when they believe they are wrong. I think you can build stronger relationships with other members of your leadership team by showing that you have a larger view of the organization. You must be able to clearly show why what you believe is correct. I’ve seen too many sales executives concede a fact, when it’s not really a fact at all. They confuse bluster with muster. As technology continues to change the way we do business, it’s critical for you to keep ahead of these trends. Many technologists have a limited view of the organization and you take their advice at your own peril.

If you want to become the CEO of your organization someday you must learn to think of the CEO and CFO as two of your most important customers. You also must learn to work with your CIO to make sure that they are getting the best return on the money invested for technology. Don’t allow your company to make the wrong decision just to prove you are right.

Sadly, most senior sales executives today struggle because they believe what their sales professionals tell them. I’ve seen it happen too many times.  A sales executive is unware that one of his team members is losing money and making it up in volume. Monitor your sales team on a regular basis to make sure what you are being told matches reality.

A senior sales executive who wants to move up must know about what is going on both inside and outside the organization. Successful senior sales executives control their destiny. They believe that they can overcome almost any difficult situation. I don’t believe its arrogance. It’s what makes them successful in selling.  Many times, they are unaware of events outside their control.

For example, a large client was just bought by a larger organization. The acquiring company is putting all orders on hold for the next several weeks or months. You want to find out what you can about the acquiring organization. A few well-placed calls can help your organization understand their options.

Many times, the first time the senior sales executives hear about an event like this is when the CEO asked what Sales was doing to make sure they keep getting the business from this organization. Ouch! I believe successful senior sales executives spend 25% of their time developing relationships outside their organization and supplier networks. It pays big dividends in today’s interconnected world.

The successful senior sales executive must know what they bring to the leadership table. They must be able to understand what makes them good at their roles. In a word, leadership. The sales leadership role requires them to build stronger teams throughout the organization. Many struggle to understand the politics of what’s happening inside their organizations. They might even be thankful that they don’t have to deal with a bad employee.

Successful senior sales executives must be very good at helping their fellow team members deal with challenging situations. They should bring a positive energy and creative problem solving skills to the situation. This allows others on the team to begin seeing that they would be a great choice for CEO.

Finally, senior sales executives must learn how to work and provide value to their board members. Friday this week, we share several ideas on how to build stronger relationships with your key stakeholders. The stronger the relationship you build, the more likely you will not be overlooked for your next big promotion.

See you Friday!

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