Sales managers are not always present in small businesses, so we are often asked what…
In 2019 I was introduced to EOS®, the Entrepreneurial Operating System® while working with a client as a Fractional Sales Manager. My client company was considering having the EOS® process implemented by a certified implementer. We were about eight months into our relationship when the owner and implementer asked if I could stretch my commitment as their sales manager and become their EOS® Sales Leader. Becoming the Sales Leader would include weekly leadership meetings, quarterly and annual meetings, and a focus meeting to kick the program off. This was quite a bit more than our standard approach, but it sounded like it would help the company and could help me be more effective for my client. I went for it. We added some additional fees for the additional time and project (Rocks) commitments but, more importantly, to the additional expectations on the sales leader to deliver and contribute to the company’s greater good with fellow leaders. I was already accountable for the sales results, but now I was also accountable for contributing to other business areas and working with the leadership team to solve issues weekly. To be honest, I kind of loved it. I was back in a seat at the leadership table with other leaders. That is not usually the case as we manage sales teams fractionally, mainly because most of our clients do not have weekly leadership meetings or a structure to make these meetings useful.
For the remainder of this article, I’d like to share my experience as the EOS® Sales Leader in a Fractional capacity and what I liked about EOS®.
For a little context to my opinions and comments, my career was in sales and sales management for large corporations and small businesses. For five years, I had a High-Performance Team and Leadership Training company. I’m a certified One Page Business Plan and PXT Select™ (a Wiley brand) consultant and used all that experience when I founded Sales Manager Now in 2006.
Loved the Simplicity of EOS®
It was obvious to me early on why EOS® was taking the business community by storm; it’s simple. Most of the terms are easy to understand, making it easy to associate the intention behind them. As Fractional Sales Managers, we must pick things up quickly and turn that understanding into results. EOS® made that simple for me, so I have no issue asking any of my Fractional Managers to be an EOS® Sales Leader. Keep it simple and get to work!
Traction First – Brilliant!
Who would have thunk? I understand traction to be making progress. You make progress by making commitments to improvement, solving problems (issues), and, most important, being accountable for your commitments and progress. EOS® has you start by learning how to choose your priority projects and have effective meetings so you can be accountable and measure progress. We’ve always run engaging and accountable meetings, but that wasn’t the case with our clients. I used to avoid meetings I was invited to at client companies because they were run so poorly. I’m not very patient with bad meetings. That wasn’t the case with EOS®. There is a no-nonsense approach to meetings that is clear and consistent. It just works.
If effective meetings and monitoring goals are not in place, the most elegant business plans can die when the planning retreat is finished. Sales Managers are accustomed to scoreboards, goals, measurements, and accountability. To see other departments have measurements to be accountable was exciting.
Footnote: The book I was handed when I joined my client team as their EOS Sales Leader was Traction, authored by Geno Wickman.
Discipline Required to Be Successful
Sometimes success is about timing and good fortune, but usually, it arrives with a good dose of discipline. That’s what we teach our sales teams and another reason I have been drawn to EOS®. The system is not rocket science, and Geno Wickman, the creator of EOS® and author of the book Traction, admits he “discovered” the system. I imagine he discovered it through hard work and discipline to find what works. Having the tools to succeed is one thing, and being disciplined to use them consistently is another. I like working with EOS® disciplined companies because I know they will do what it takes to support the sales goals we are working to achieve. Fractional sales management is more effective in organizations that are disciplined.
Corporate Type Structure Without Bureaucracy
We work with small businesses because we like being close to the owner’s heartbeat, and the team size fits us well. Still, not all small businesses operate with structure, systems, and processes like larger corporations. Processes and systems make our work as Fractional Sales Managers possible, which is another reason I appreciate companies working EOS®. When tasked with developing a new process or system, I knew it would be supported and implemented. Fractional Sales Managers need consistency and structure; processes and systems provide that. The more structure you have, the better chance a Fractional can be your EOS® Sales Leader.
The best part is small businesses realize the benefit of being structured to grow without having the enterprise organization bureaucracy. Much more can get done, and that will support a Fractional.
A Place to Solve Issues Weekly
If you are practicing EOS®, you know how powerful solving issues can be. I’ve seen the practice of solving issues take a company from complaining about people and circumstances to growing through identifying core issues and solving them. As sales managers, we need to provide our sales team with tools and opportunities to sell more and remove roadblocks that are getting in their way. Working as the EOS® Sales Leader at that first EOS® practicing client company allowed me a place to solve issues and find solutions every week. The result was a sales team appreciative that their manager was looking out for them and the company.
A commitment to solving issues gives the role of a Fractional sales leader a better chance at success.
Commitment to Improve
Companies running on EOS® are constantly improving, which will support the efforts of the sales leader. To grow sales, a Fractional Sales Manager should focus on growth in people, team, skills, and ability. Growth requires improvement, and a commitment to improvement develops growth. Kind of cool. We each plateau in areas of our life. Those who climb on will self-reflect, assess, work, and find a way to improve. During that process, we get better.
I’m a business owner, and it’s clear that if I’m not growing in how I lead others, my business growth slows down. The commitment to improve is another common value that EOS® promotes that makes a Fractional approach work better.
A team can be a beautiful thing. As mentioned earlier, I had a Leadership and Team High-Performance Training company. After five years, I realized teaching was fun but missed being on a team. I missed the fun, struggle, conflict, and victories we celebrated together. The EOS® Leadership Team is an opportunity to be part of a high-performing team and experience tremendous growth individually and together.
We can grow independently, but we grow faster when we are accountable to others and ourselves. Most Fractional Sales Managers will focus on building a team with sales reps. Individual accomplishment is great, but winning as a team is what the company needs. Being part of the Leadership Team as the EOS® Sales Leader should be natural for team-oriented Fractional Sales Managers.
Quarterly and Annual Meetings
This might be more of a commitment than some Fractional Sales Managers want to take on. Still, I personally found them challenging, difficult, fun, and extremely useful to help the leadership team learn and practice the new tools being presented by our EOS® Implementer. We got on the same page and learned how to work with each other honestly and openly. We had business to take care of and decisions to make. A Fractional Sales Manager should be able to schedule time for these meetings. Realistic commitments can be made if the team considers the Fractional Manager is not dedicating 40 hours a week to the company.
Your EOS® Sales Leader Can Be a Fractional Sales Manager
What makes a good fit for a Fractional Sales Manager is working at a company that is committed to setting clear expectations, has an accountable working environment, meetings are consistent and effective, and believes in its people. So yes, I believe a Fractional Sales Manager should be considered for a small business with less than ten salespeople if you are looking for an EOS® Sales Leader.