TALKING SALES 160: "How Role Charters help create a High Performance Sales Culture"

John Smibert

Role charters05 "Clarity on how our job roles interact will help sales teams achieve success" - Interview by John Smibert

More than ever before, successful B2B selling requires collaborative teamwork. The sales role is only one role in the team - granted an important one - yet without other roles working in harmony with the salesperson no sale will be successful.

Maria Nordstrom 350x500A team - comprising people with a wide range of roles - needs to work effectively and efficiently, aligning and collaborating around a common shared purpose in order to succeed in winning the trust of the customer against formidable competition.

According to sales leadership guru, Maria Nordstrom, a key requirement to achieve this is to have clear 'role charters' in place versus the traditional 'role description'

In this discussion with Maria we explore the importance of 'role charters' in building a high performance culture.

Firstly she explained what a role charter must enable.  "It gives you a road-map of how a person's role interacts with others. It's about how the role needs to collaborate with other roles within the organisation to achieve an outcome.

Maria emphasised that the role charter helps each person better understand how they work together - how they will together achieve a higher performance.

View or read the full interview to get to learn more. This is likely to be valuable reading for CEO's, CSO's and Sales leaders.  This is the fourth in a series of 10 interviews with Maria where we explore sales leadership and high performance cultures.


Maria Nordstrom, Managing Director of The Upside Group, is an executive coach, a specialist in sales leadership and a change leader focused on high performance sales cultures.


John: Hello, I've got Maria Nordstrom with me again - welcome back, Maria!

Maria: Thank you, John - pleasure to be here!

John: Hey, we've had some great discussions about cultural change, getting a high-performance culture, some of the aspects of the leadership around that, and I've heard you talk a lot about 'role descriptions' versus 'role charters' in that context as well. Could you explain what a role charter is - versus a role description - and how does it apply in the context of what we've been talking about?

Maria: Alright. So job description gives you an overview of what the role is, the skills that you require, the experience that you require; it doesn't actually put that job in the context of the organisation.

John: Okay.

Maria: So a role charter actually puts that role within the context of the wider organisation. If you're a salesperson for instance and you want to deliver something to your customer to achieve an outcome when you're going through the deal, you may need some pricing authority, you need some sign-off, you may need some knowledge from the product managers, and/or you may need then something to sign-off the final commercial solution, and then you will need to be able to deliver to the customer once you actually get there. So there's certain people that you need to collaborate with within the organisation.Role Charters04

John: All salespeople for example struggle with that, because they actually become leaders of teams of people that actually don't report to them, so they have to manage that environment.

Maria: They have to manage the environment, and I think the key is that this gives you a road-map. It's not about you, John, it's about John the person working in a role. That role needs to collaborate with other roles within the organisation to achieve an outcome, whatever that outcome is, if it is delivering a product to a customer or service, if it is managing an internal process for argument's sake as well or an internal project for argument's sake as well, so I think the key is here that that role is created by John as to how you see that role.Role charters01 700x520

Everybody goes into a room and sit down and describe the role, so you almost create a map of each of the roles in the organisation and how they intertwine - who's got responsibility, who's got authority, who needs to be advised, the old ~racy~ model in the context of - so you understand what level of empowerment you have in decision making, and who and where you need to go to to achieve the next step for what you need to do. So it actually gives you a complete map, once everybody's agreed in the beginning of the year that that's how it's going to work, it's easy because you know, and generally the leaders are the advisers of what you need to do.

John: Right.

Maria: I don't know how many times I've asked questions "I need to do this. Who do I talk to?" and I'm sure every leader and sales leader, any leader within an organisation would've had that experience. It doesn't mean you would go and do it, it just means that it makes it a lot clearer for the person that's actually doing whatever they're doing to understand what they need to do next.

John: So basically you're saying a role charter needs to be defined as part of driving a high-performance culture.

Maria: Absolutely.

John: And that will make everything happen much more effectively and easily, everybody understands how they work together much better, and you're going to get that higher performance coming through.

Maria: Yes. Clarity is one of the key things you need to have in the high-performing culture. If you don't have clarity of purpose, of strategy, of role, you can't actually achieve the high-performing culture. So this is one part of it, yes.

John: So I can define my role, but really more important is how do I work with everybody else to get my job done and that's the role charter.

Maria: Yes, absolutely.

John: I like it - thank you very much for your advice!

Maria: Pleasure!


Access Maria Nordstrom at The Upside Group

View a previous discussion with Maria here:



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