Fractional Sales Management

 

What is fractional sales management, and why is it needed?

Fractional sales management refers to the outsourcing of the sales leadership function to provide three critical roles & competencies for an organization: 1) part-time sales management 2) sales process improvement and 3) sales coaching and training. Fractional sales management is an effective strategy for attaining enhanced sales results and world-class sales leadership without taking on the risk and cost of an internal sales manager. Fractional sales management is usually conducted on a contracted basis over a defined period of time and is designed to improve your sales process, tools, and team.

 

How does a team know if they need a fractional sales manager?

The first and perhaps most obvious need for fractional sales management is when the organization experiences consistent difficulty with meeting/exceeding growth objectives. From a CEO’s perspective, this is often viewed as the sales team not living up to realistic objectives while evaluating product/service competency, competitive saturation, and relevant industry and market factors. If you think that your sales should be higher than they are today and that your salespeople should be experiencing more success, fractional sales management is something that you should consider.

Another key and often overlooked appropriate use case for fractional sales management is derived from a lack of effective time within the organization. Meaning, when the person leading the sales team (or sometimes it's not even defined) doesn't have the time to manage the team to the highest and best use of their resources – fractional sales management becomes a great choice for that organization. Lack of effective time is a common problem in the player-coach hybrid model that some growing companies use to promote their top sales executive – and can also be a challenge when marketing and sales leadership roles are combined under one employee. The individual typically has difficulty performing both roles adequately enough to make maintaining that model beneficial for the company.

The third scenario is that the organization doesn’t have someone that has appropriate sales management skills, and they have difficulty finding somebody that does. Most sales management candidates don't have the proven ability to properly coach and mentor a competitive sales team. Maybe they've been a sales engineer, a star contributor, or even a CEO, but they haven't been focused on sales management. So why try to force them into that role if that's not what they do well? Rather than taking your key players outside of their strengths, outsource your sales management to a…

So, the business return that you're considering when you outsource that sales management function is around developing each sales team member to their highest individual potential while simultaneously increasing the company's top-line revenue. A good fractional sales manager is also aiming to implement high-performing methodologies within the sales and sales management function. Their end goal should be to develop a high-performing sales team that is self-sustainable for continuous growth.

The other key business driver revolves around organizational cost reduction and operationalizing a sales function that operates at the lowest possible total cost of sales. Why outsource sales management to a fractional sales manager? Because it is significantly cheaper than recruiting, training, and paying an internal sales manager and typically produces far superior results.

 

Scope of Fractional Sales Management

 

Scope Component: Developing the Sales Process

Developing the sales process refers to the entire set of procedures that your sales team follows from the first hello (to a prospect) all the way through a closed p.o. This starts with creating the right recommendations for the right decision makers to develop the business case from which to drive the sales cycle on. The next part of the sales process is performing discovery with the prospective customer to make sure that we're aligning the solution effectively and simply. Finally we have proposing and closing - and winning the business. (We label these processes as survey, assess, align in the Smart Sales Method and believe it is the most effective simple deal flow process that B2B technology sales reps should have.)

Now, once we go into closing, we know that there's going to be a stall from the customer side, there's going to be a competition implication due to how research driven buyer teams have become, and there's going to be a price / terms and conditions negotiation. Some call those objections, but since these scenarios happen all the time, a good sales process proceduralizes these instances and is built to handle these common pushbacks.

*Note, only ~1% of customer client facing teams in the high technology or advanced manufacturing in the United States have an optimized process like The Smart Sales Method in place. Due to this scarcity, it takes a very specific skill set to have someone come in and build that process for your team, be that strategic right fit to define your sales process and, also be tactical enough to work with the team day-to-day on deals.

When evaluating this talent scarcity, you’ll quickly find that affordability becomes a major issue. For most organizations, they can't afford the author of a five-star Amazon book managing their sales full-time. That’s why using that sales manager fractionally for a period of time to implement methods that recurringly win business for you makes sense and is a successful and new-age sales leadership model.

 

Scope Component: Leading, Coaching, and Training the Sales Team

“Let's talk about leading first. This means being able to motivate and plan with the sales team on a daily or every other day basis. So, getting the team together and leading them and understanding that you're going to have people in different areas of maturity and different areas within their sales cycles. Some of them are going to be proactive and ready to make sales. Some of them are in the process of having conversations with customers and others aren’t quite there (or there with the right organizational stakeholder). So, leading and motivating the team is always number one and it takes a special skill set. From there, we move into coaching. This constitutes pre-call planning, on-call support and post-call debriefing to ensure that that salesperson is having the right conversations with the right customers.” – Joe Morone, Fractional Sales Manager

Only after a fractional sales manager completes the above components are they ready to implement training. To start they will listen to your sales reps talk to your customer evaluate if they are positioning your company effectively to the customer, making a good recommendation to the customer, talking to the real decision-makers, creating business cases, presenting good proposals, asking for the sale, handling the objections or the negotiations, etc. When a fractional sales manager sees gaps in those areas, that’s when he/she begins training your sales team according to best sales practices for your given target market, the solution that you are providing, and the current organizational structure.

 

Scope Component: Developing Account and Deal Specific Strategies

A major use case for fractional sales management revolves around utilizing that resource for developing specific strategies for key sales cycles and accounts. Think about it this way: in addition to long-term improvement, a fractional sales manager will help your teamwork on the existing pipeline for immediate wins and cash flow improvements. They will help you with:

  • Developing strategies for upselling, cross-selling, reselling to your existing accounts
  • Proactively protecting accounts from key competitors
  • Strategically divesting from accounts that aren’t a good fit for continuous pursuit

 

They will also help you with new sales cycles. For a given deal or a cohort of related deals, a fractional sales manager will provide your selling strategy and leadership to make sure that the prospect buys from you instead of your competitor.

One of our favorite questions regarding fractional sales management fraction is: “Will this fractional sales manager will actually get on the calls/meetings and sell for my organization?”

Because it’s one thing for Tom Brady to come and work with a varsity football team’s offense once or twice a week, but it’s entirely different if Brady also took for the field as that team’s quarterback on game night. Yes, they will not only manage, coach, train, and advise your sales team, but they will also get on the field and sell with them.

 

Scope Component: Providing Accountability Management

Providing and instilling healthy accountability in the sales team is an important role of a fractional sales manager. From auditing hundreds of B2B sales teams, we’ve seen that organizations tend to either hold no accountability of performance metrics (so much so that sometimes there aren’t even sales quotas and revenue objectives put in place) or they hold an unhealthy degree of accountability. When the former occurs, you effectively have no control over your forecasting and live on the edge of your seat hoping that your team makes a sale. That being said we’ve seen (and have increasingly seen) the overuse of accountability without a dedicated sales process, strategy, or training for the team to pull from much more frequently. When inappropriate levels of accountability are paired with unachievable quotas for salespeople that are unequipped to win business, a turnover problem occurs.

A good fractional sales manager has the maturity, experience, and ability to implement a good sales process and develop the sales team so that they can then utilize accountability appropriately. Effective accountability ensures consistent growth for the organization while providing the salespeople the safety to develop their sales skills ethically and according to best-in-class practices.

 

Why Worldleders for Fractional Sales Management – What makes Joe Morone a Credible Fractional Sales Manager?

“Because it's my life, it's what I've been doing the last 30 years. One hundred and seventeen thousand hours of research and application. Through the nights, weekends, workday, free time, all of it. Studying successful organizations, experimenting, testing process… When I began, I wanted to know what made a given salesperson successful. What I’ve realized over the years is that we’re looking at it the wrong way. What we are really after is: what makes processes and teams successful? That’s why outsourced fractional sales management is what I feel I should offer B2B technology companies in the high technology and manufacturing environment. Those companies get to invest in sales process and organizational advancement rather than spending money on sales managers/sales leaders that will just leave in a few years anyway.”

I've worked with over 400 companies to date, but my foundation before that is built from taking a 24-million-dollar company and transforming it into a billion-dollar company with 60 offices internationally. It's one of the only things that I do very well, but I do it well and I love to do it.

When I say to a salesperson, ‘nothing happens till something is sold and you're responsible for it’, it’s like getting to instill a badge of honor. I believe salespeople and American technology firms bring the products to our world that better it and drives the evolution of mankind. I love this demographic and love helping them win. The level of care for them and the enjoyment I experience through their accomplishments make me a very, very good fractional sales manager.” – Joe Morone, President of Worldleaders