Know Where You Make a Difference – And Work On It!

by: Joe Connelly (VP Sales)

As a leader in Sales, how should you spend your time to be most effective? When there is a large revenue target, naturally you spend your time on everything required to “hit the budget”. But think about this:  If you took a year off work, and let your sales organization operate by itself, it would probably deliver a significant portion of the revenue target without your involvement. That being the case, the most senior Sales person ought to focus on the elements of the business where he can make a difference – in the above example that means working on “the gap” that would occur if he went on a year-long vacation!

Recently a VP of Sales who I was coaching through his annual budget process estimated that 78% of the upcoming year’s revenues would “come in without my direct involvement”. He figured that another 10% could happen with his hands-on engagement throughout the year. That left a daunting 12% gap to plan going into the new year. He scratched his head, “I’m working flat out right now – how am I going to close the gap?”

I asked him how much of his time was spent specifically on things where he made a true difference, namely the 10% plus the 12%. His eyes widened. It turned out to be less than 50% of his time. If the company needs the senior Sales person to hit or exceed the revenue budget, why would he not be spending the vast majority of his time where he could deliver the highest marginal return?

In companies both large and small, many people make demands on your time. As a senior Executive you don’t want to disappoint, so you allow other people to commandeer chunks of your weekly calendar with time-sucking activities that are not directly related to closing the known revenue gap.  Seasoned Sales Executives take control and consciously focus their time and activities where they can make the biggest impact.

The lesson for Sales VPs:  Know where you make a difference, work on it by dedicating the vast majority of your time to where your direct involvement is really needed, and empower the rest of the organization to deliver the rest!

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