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Whose Deal Is This?

by David Brock on March 11th, 2021

Who in the sales organization owns the responsibility for a deal? Who is responsible for leading the development and execution of the deal strategy?

Most of us would respond, thoughtfully, “It’s the sales person’s responsibility!”

Sadly, though, in practice it looks very different. To many managers, often well intended, take the deal over, they end up running the deal strategy and execution, sometimes delightfully surrendered by the sales person.

Let’s get back to basics.

It’s the sales person’s responsibility to “make the number.” The managers’ jobs are to support their sales people in doing this. They do so by coaching, providing support/resources, removing roadblocks, providing systems, tools, training to help sales people in doing their job. Stated differently, orchestrating resources to help the sales people.

As a result, the finding deals, qualifying them, leading the strategy development and execution of each deal is the responsibility of the sales person.

They aren’t alone in developing and executing the strategy, in today’s complex B2B sales world, we need to leverage people in our company and partners in our customer engagement strategies. However, someone has to be accountable for leading the development of the engagement strategy and managing the execution of that strategy through the customer buying process.

Managers play a critical role in the process. They coach, they help the team think differently about what they are doing. They share experience the team can leverage as they develop and implement the deal strategy. But they don’t own the deal or the deal strategy!

Managers and senior executives may be helpful in customer meetings. They might share a perspective that’s useful to the customer. They might help the sales team reach higher levels in the customer. But management is, just like anyone else in the company is just a resource the sales team uses to execute their strategy. Manager’s make calls at the request of the sales person and in support of their strategy.

Too often, however, managers bury themselves in deals. They take ownership of the deal strategy from the sales person, consequently, taking the responsibility and accountability for winning on themselves.

This is simply unsustainable and wrong. Managers running the deals, because they think they can do a better job are not doing their jobs as managers–but rather are doing the job of sales person. Rather than building capability and capacity in the organization, or holding people accountable for doing their jobs, they are actually weakening the development and performance of the organization.

We need to be very clear about the roles/responsibilities of our sales people and sales leadership. We must build the skills and capabilities of our people in fulfilling their responsibility–not take it way from them.

I started the post with the thought, “Who’s deal is this?” It’s always the sales person’s/team’s deal. It is never management’s deal!

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