Fractional Sales Management – A Partner to the Small Business CEO

September 30th, 2018

Small business owners have it tough…intense need to grow revenue, and limited time and resources to handle all the challenges of running your own business.  I’ve learned from my 15 years as a business owner that there’s one perennial challenge – generating leads and capturing sales to support a business in which the cost structure never seems to go down.  In the quest to generate profits and provide employees a great place to work, it’s much harder to generate increasing revenues than it is to manage a company’s cost structure.  

For the small business CEO, people problems are among the most draining, psychologically and in terms of time.  I’ve often heard other CEOs say they wish they had a business without customers and without employees – but we know that’s not a business.  Having built a successful small business from zero, I can say it’s the hardest thing I’ve done in my life.  Working with the right people on your road to success is one of the most important things I’ve learned.  A fractional sales manager may be one of those people.

Good salespeople are tough to lead

Ranking high among the people challenges are salespeople.  Our testing and research indicate that high-performing salespeople are independent, control-freaks that suck at managing details – “rare birds” that often present challenges to the typical small business CEO.  Consequently, many small business CEOs don’t the have time, desire and/or experience to manage these “rare birds”. That’s where a fractional sales manager may be the answer.

Can a fractional sales manager help your business

If you have a small sales team, even only one person, a fractional sales manager may be a good addition to your team.  We’ve learned over the last several years providing fractional sales management services to several businesses that there’s a level of sales expertise the becomes very beneficial to a small business CEO.  

This sales expertise can be as little as coaching your one and only salesperson and providing a cadence of accountability.  For larger teams, in addition to the coaching and accountability factors, fractional sales managers can participate in developing sales strategies for your company.

A good sales strategy consists of three elements; 1) identifying what’s best to sell and to whom to sell it, 2) assembly of the right sales tools, and 3) leadership to execute the plan.  Many small business CEOs don’t have the sales and marketing expertise to determine the best sales plan, and few have had the direct sales experience to know what sales tools to use.

More difficult than most things, small business CEOs don’t have the time to effectively lead the sales team with the discipline and cadence of accountabilities necessary to get the greatest results from salespeople who are by their very nature are difficult to lead and manage.

How to integrate a fractional sales manager

If you think a fractional sales manager might bring value to your organization, here’s what to seek.  Successful sales organizations must be process oriented – the processes become the foundation on which success is achieved long term.  These processes include lead generation and lead management, customer interactions, goals, sales activities, meeting rhythm and CRM utilization.  These are the processes and systems on which all sales activities operate. A good fractional sales manager will be process-oriented and have a track-record of implementing repeatable sales processes.

Once you have a solid set of processes on which the sales department works, a fractional sales manager can contribute to individual and team skill development.  Coaching individual salespeople to improve their communication skills and conversion rates is something you should expect your fractional sales manager to do. Additionally, providing sales training and skill development across the entire sales department is something that will not only create a positive and consistent sales culture, it will help to increase sales close rate.

The plight of the typical small business CEO includes the perpetual desire to grow the business and seldom enough time to get it all done.  These challenges, combined with the unique requirements of leading salespeople, create a situation in which a fractional sales manager may be an answer.  If a fractional sales manager is your future, find one who brings a combination of process-orientation and selling skills development.

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