Blog_-_Juggling_PrioritiesYesterday we covered some recommended focus areas for chief marketing officers in 2014. And clearly, priority number one for the VP of sales or chief revenue officer is to MAKE THE NUMBER.

But that’s like saying you want to lose weight this year. How are you going to do it? What will you prioritize and/or execute to get there?

Here are several recommended focus areas for sales leaders to consider, to help them make their number in 2014.

Focus on and increase active selling time across your sales team
It’s the silent killer of productivity and results across most sales floors, something that rarely gets measured and optimized. But there are several things you can do to materially increase active selling time for your reps. Here are a few places to start.

Commit to a regular training & best practice sharing program
New hire training and quarterly kick-off sessions aren’t enough. You need a regular, weekly if not daily commitment to helping your team get better. This includes peer-to-peer best practice sharing, active role-playing and more. The more you invest in the training and success of your reps, the better they’ll do and the more likely they’ll stick around.

Nurture your future managers
Not every great sales rep will make a great manager. But find those that will and start training them early. Have them shadow your best managers today, and start investing in getting them to mentor their junior peers. It will make them feel good, increase their motivation and loyalty, plus make them better managers faster once they’re ready to make the jump.

Find & nurture your replacement (even if that means going somewhere else)
You may not find your next VP of Sales inside the company, but your best managers will eventually be on a track to become a VP somewhere, someday. Invest in helping them get the skills and experience now and you’ll likely keep them managing and improving your in-house sales force longer.

Invest in sales operations
An investment in sales ops is a direct investment in your sales team. Here are several ways we believe effective sales ops can literally double the effectiveness of your sales force.

Be patient AND pushy with marketing
This presumes you have a good working relationship with marketing to begin with – including common objectives and lead/opportunity definitions. So with that foundation in place, you can be pushy with marketing about what you need to be successful – leads, tools, etc. But at the same time, give them some rope. Their job is really hard, and even when they’re trying like crazy they won’t necessarily hit gold every time.

Stop going after bad business
You now what I’m talking about. The new customer that contributed to your number but you know already is going to be super high maintenance, unprofitable, probably churn quickly and give you a bad reputation on the community boards. Don’t do it.

Improve reward & recognition across the sales floor
There are some impressive sales-centric gamification platforms such as Hoopla that are helping sales teams nationwide increase performance and sales-floor morale. But even if you don’t invest in a platform, build a strategy that regularly rewards behavior both tactical and strategic, activities and closed deals. On the recognition front, find ways to recognize your hard-working reps with their families and significant others present. You can do this at awards dinners, company picnics and more. Your reps are working hard and sometimes sacrificing family time to hit their number. Show those family members that you recognize and appreciate it.

Get cross-functional executives & managers involved
The sales team typically assumes that the rest of the company thinks their job is easy, or just doesn’t understand what they do. Find ways to get non-sales executives involved. Bring them into your sales meetings, have them “sponsor” sales teams from time to time with encouragement and support with incentives/promotions, etc.