Sales Leadership When The Future Is Unclear
[ 2 -3 min read ]
Without A Clear And Adaptive Sales Strategy, Customer Acquisition Efforts Fail
We have heard paraphrased versions of this again and again. Despite this, sales leaders frequently find themselves managing in situations of strategic ambiguity. As the pace of change continues to accelerate, sales leaders are quickly learning management agility and strategic adaptability are the new prerequisites for successful sales management. Yet, indecisiveness remains – Why?
Customers today are faced with an abundance of choice. Market conditions are changing rapidly. Budgets are tightening or restricted. The reasons for why indecision remains could go on. Approaching strategic uncertainty can feel a lot like driving with a blindfold, under a heavy fog, in the middle of the night. Often, this pushes leaders to avoid sound investments, defer decision making, and reduce or freeze resource allocation. As a result, anxiety, doubt, and uncertainty creeps into the thought process thus leading to poor decision making. Everyone feels this way from time to time.
Even so, whether a sales organization succeeds or fails, is largely based on their leader’s ability to move the team forward at the critical moment when the direction ahead is unclear. The best sales leaders are able bring a balance of realistic expectations, lead by example, and communicate with empathy.
A Sales Leader’s Core Function Is To Exercise Judgement
That is, to form views and interpret ambiguous evidence in a way that will lead to a good decision. When the path forward is unclear, the best sales leaders acknowledge what’s unknown – but also look ahead to what’s known.
This can be demonstrated by adopting the following 3 disciplines into daily practice:
- Take Action (a decision must be made, indecision is costly).
- Maintain Emotional Control (act “as-if” to inspire confidence in others).
- Leverage Data and Domain Expertise (learn more, see more – knowledge is power).
Effective sales leaders are proponents of practicality when dealing with uncertainty. The adage “you can’t improve what you can’t measure” holds absolutely true here. At CIEN.AI, we put to practice a data-informed culture by measuring every data point and outcome within our own CRM (Salesforce). This helps our sales and marketing team mitigate forecast unpredictability and improve future outcomes. Predicting the future with absolute certainty is impossible, but utilizing predictive analytics will expedite your ability to determine what’s likely and place intelligent bets.
The modern sales leader today must balance their acknowledgement of what’s unknown, with decision making based on informed likelihoods. They can accomplish this by determining which dynamics are impacting their company (that they’re aware of). They must continuously solicit feedback and ask other stakeholders their opinions of what will happen. As leaders they must act upon what can be done that day, to better prepare their teams and customers for change. In doing so, they position themselves advantageously to take decisive action, demonstrate confidence, and achieve sales success well above the norm – even when the market landscape remains out of focus.
Don’t allow lack of clarity to cast a shadow over your sales team’s confidence or performance. Cien can help you drive your sales organization forward faster.