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Sales Leaders Organizational Checkup and Self-Assessment

by David Brock on August 3rd, 2009

I was talking about one of my favorite topics, sales leadership, with my close friend and client, Jeff Stanley, Director Of Sales Excellence, AT&T Mobility.

Jeff is one of those great pracitioners and coaches in Sales Onboarding and Sales Management.  He is always very pragmatic–with suggestions that have been operationally tested.

In our conversation, Jeff was coming up with so many ideas, I asked him to write a guest post for this blog.  It’s below (I did have to embellish it some–you’ll recognize some of my additions.).


Sales Leaders Organizational Checkup and Self-Assessment

By Jeffrey Stanley, Director of Sales Excellence, AT&T Mobility

What’s the number one complaint of sellers? It usually nets out to insufficient selling time including: administrative issues, compliance, sales tools, unproductive meetings etc… But what about sales managers?

 As with sellers, sales managers feel inundated with duties that they perceive as unproductive or administrative in nature. However, the primary concern may not be so much of what tasks are imposed, but where sales managers decide to spend their time. For many of us, sales pursuits and closing of complex deals are the fondest memories from when we were sellers. And as managers, this is still where many of us choose to spend much of our time.

 However, creating, driving and evolving your sales organization provides the greater value. So, as your team gets into its sales rhythm in the final months 2009, it may be worthwhile to give your business franchise an annual checkup…assessing key elements of a healthy and productive sales organization.

 Below are 10 areas with a few sample questions that you can ask yourself to help kick start an organizational checkup:



  • How effective are you in identifying, recruiting and developing hi-potential talent?
  • Do you have an available funnel of sales candidates?
  • What is the recruiting process? Does it identify a sufficient pool of qualified and effective sellers?
  • Do you have a published candidate interviewing and evaluation process? Do you adhere to this process?
  • Are new hires improving the quality of your organization? What are their on and off-ramp results, attrition numbers and stack rank vs. experienced sellers?
  • Can new hire get up to speed and productive quickly? Is the Onboarding process effective?


Territory Management

  • Have you developed an overall business opportunity assessment for your assigned territories and/or accounts?
  • What is each seller’s territory performance and penetration? What about new logo sales as compared to growth of existing accounts?
  • Are territories assignments fair and equitable?
  • Do your sellers develop effective territory strategies?
  • Are you reviewing these strategies and territory plans on a regular basis?


Strategy Development

  • Do sellers develop effective account plans for their top accounts?
  • Are seller account plans effective? Do sellers perceive value in account reviews?
  • Are effective opportunity plans developed for your top opportunities? Do you regularly review and develop strategy around opportunity plans?  Do you help your team in strengthening their plans and competitive position?
  • Does your team effectively utilize internal resources and strategic partners? What kind of relationship do you have with key resources from both inside and outside the company?
  • What are close rates for top opportunities?
  • Do you regularly conduct win/loss reviews and act upon your findings?
  • How effectively do you identify and leverage best practices in the organization?
  • How effective are seller sales calls? Are you utilizing a formalized call planning process with guidelines as to when and how to employ?  Are you participating in calls and giving your sellers feedback on their execution of the call plans?


Application and Consultative Sales

  • How well do you and your sellers understand the company’s solutions and competitive differentiators? What about the role of strategic partners?
  • How well do your sellers know their customer’s business and competitive priorities?
  • Do your sellers engage resources early in the sales/solution development process? Is it effective?
  • Can your team articulate ROI when applicable?
  • Are your people developing, communicating, and delivering differentiated value that your customers buy?
  • Are your people creating value in every interchange with the customer?  Do your customers think your people use their time well/
  • Does your customer bring you to the planning table as a partner or are you considered a vendor (be honest)?


Customer Centricity

  • Regarding you and your team – what’s the customer perception of your:          Industry expertise?  Understanding of the customer’s organization?  Knowledge of customer business needs, issues, drivers and competitive environment?  Contributions to helping them think about growing their business?
  • Is the organization strategically positioned with customer executives at appropriate levels throughout its functional areas and business units?
  • Do your sellers know the CIO’s or primary executive’s strategic plan?
  • Do your people know how your customers’ performance is measured and evaluated?
  • Do your teams conduct regular customer quality and performance reviews?
  • What are results against customer service metrics?
  • What is your customer churn rate and are the resources and plans in-place to address?
  • Do you regularly meet with customers to understand their needs, strategies, business drivers, and attitudes toward your people and company?  Do you ask them for suggestions on how you can better serve them?  Do you act on those suggestions?
  • Would your customer recommend your services to others?


Operational Effectiveness

  • Do your sellers understand your organizational resources and the impact they have on their success?
  • Do your sellers use resources as effectively as possible?
  • How effectively do your teams drive both support and partner organizations?
  • Are partner organizations sufficiently involved in identifying and solving customer issues?
  • Do you have the opportunity to provide input and direction to partner organizations such as: marketing, training, finance etc…?
  • Do you get your people the resources and support they need from the rest of the organization?
  • Do you “protect” your people from the “good intentions” of the rest of the organization, letting them focus on managing their territories and opportunities?


Driving Results ( review of key metrics)

  • Do your sellers understand the organization’s key metrics and impact on the business? What about your key metrics?
  • How well do you understand the effectiveness of your sellers in key areas:      Type and volume of activity?   Opportunity and pipeline funnel including: close ratios, standards and cycle time?  Forecast Accuracy?  Sales tool utilization (SFA, order entry, billing, revenue etc…)?
  • Does each seller engage in gap planning as required?
  • How do you inspect key metrics? Can you easily and accurately articulate to your management?
  • Do you conduct regular, effective 1 on 1’s?
  • Do you know your team’s participation rate and is this an important metric to you?
  • Does your management understand where you are in the key performance areas?  Do they support your plan?


Active Performance Management and People Development

  • How effective is your goal setting and review process?
  • Do you conduct seller competency/skill assessments?
  • Do you and your sellers each have relevant individual development plans? Is achievement against these plans reviewed on a regular basis?
  • What are your team’s primary skill development areas? What is the plan to address?
  • Are you a coach or a boss?  How much time do you spend coaching?
  • What is your ask versus tell ratio?  Do you coach through asking questions or by telling?
  • Do your people clearly understand where they stand on their performance?  Would they be surprised if they received a performance review right now?
  • Do you facilitate and embrace multi-level feedback? What do you do with the results of that feedback?
  • How effective is your new hire onboarding process and training plan?


Organizational Development

  • Are you identifying and developing high-potential sellers?
  • What are you doing to develop and/or manage out low-performing sellers?
  • What are you doing to develop future leaders?
  • What are your organization’s goals and objectives? How do they impact performance?
  • How well do you motivate your people?
  • Have you identified any performance issues or problems?  Are you actively addressing these issues with the people and seeking to improve performance?  Do you have a documented plan in place?
  • Do you have a good understanding of your team’s attrition? Is it good or bad attrition and what is the plan to up-skill your organization?
  • Do you have a personal development plan for yourself and improving your capabilities as a manager and leader?  Is your manager actively involved in helping you?


Effective Communications

  • Have you effectively communicated objectives and your vision for the organization to both your organization and to your management?
  • How are you encouraging your team to provide you feedback and input? What changes have you made based on feedback?
  • Are you organized and documented when it comes to your people?
  • Do you communicate the “wins” and accomplishments of the team to the rest of the organization?
  • Do you recognize and celebrate great performance?
  • Does your management understand and support what you are doing with your strategy and your people?


Dave’s Note:  This list is just a starting point.  Take it and adapt if for yourself and your organization.  Periodically, look at it — at least every quarter, and reassess yourself and your team.  Be brutally honest.  This is for you helping you achieve outstanding results for your team.

Jeff Stanley has 20 years sales and management experience focused on telecommunications and outsourcing. Questions and comments can be directed to

  1. A very educational post, David.

    This post vaguely reminds me of the time when I asked my mother why a toy I had when I was 9 stopped working.

    She said that each unit is composed of numerous working parts. If one of these parts did not function properly, the whole system will be affected.

    Just like in your post, if all sections are not checked, the root problem will not be seen.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment. We tend not to use “systems thinking” when we look at solving problems or maximizing performance. If we only attack one aspect of sales management, it will undoubtedly impact other areas. Great comment!

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