So, so, so true! And applies to Sales and Leadership too!
To catch some folks up from previous posts, we’re talking about High Performing Sales Leaders and character traits we’d like to in addition to hard skills. We talked previously about those character traits and you can access that post here.
Our group then talked about the “hard” skills of a compelling leader. Someone we’d follow into battle. And here are the big ones:
1. Set the vision – are you still talking about call metrics? And activity reports? As a group, we talked about Vision (yes, with a capital V). We’re not JUST a supply company or phone company or . Ed Porter with Sysco Guest Supply gave the example of a telcom provider he worked for and a speech by a VP. The VP essentially shared that it’s not JUST a phone. People will forget their wallet, but not their phone. It’s a connection to their family – a means of saying good night to their babies and family, of keeping in touch, of keeping connected. Wow. That vision gives meaning and purpose to the activities of the sales team. As leaders, we MUST do a great job of communicating our vision and giving purpose to our teams. How’s your vision communicated? Does your team get the vision? When’s the last time it was communicated?
2. Set clear goals – now that the vision is in place, let’s talk about goals. This is where the rubber hits the road and “being engaged in the right activities at the right time” lines up to achieving the agreed upon goals and quota. How clear and attainable are the goals in place for your team?
3. Accountability – aside from endlessly entering data that may or may not be useful to your sales team, what does accountability look like in your team? Is there a scorecard in place? Consistent coaching and feedback loops in place? Here’s the secret, when these pieces of the puzzle are put in place, the benefits are numerous and plentiful. The expectations are set and clear for your team, you as a leader have clear data to share, and there are no surprises at the end of the year come review time. How cool is that.
To follow on to earlier blog posts, and the AA-ISP Annual Leadership Summit help April 20-22, our Birds of a Feather Roundtable tackled the subject of High Performing Sales Leaders. Or better titled, How to Not Suck as Sales Leader”.
The final nugget that came up in our Birds of a Feather Roundtable at the AA-ISP Leadership Summit, was how to manage up. Man, that’s a tough one. Middle management, not to mention Sales Management, is not for the faint of heart.
Here’s what we talked about:
Managing your team is about ownership, driving behavior, desired outcomes, etc. Managing up and around the organization, to your boss and other teams, is about conversation facilitation. Wow. Let’s say that again:
Managing your team is about ownership, driving behavior, desired outcomes, etc. Managing up and around the organization is about conversation facilitation.
Here are some ideas to help with facilitation:
If you’re organization is siloed, perhaps host a Leadership Networking Session or Speed Dating. Have an agenda: everybody come prepared to talk about three things:
- What you do/what your team does
- Most pressing issue
- Biggest butterfly effect issue (meaning what issues get pushed down stream)
This is NOT a complaint session. Set the rules, have a facilitator, align the conversations to the company’s goals for the year.
We also said, hey, we’re Sales Leaders! What if we put our sales hats on and approached our counterparts as if we were consultatively selling to them? What if we took the time to craft a value proposition before talking to our HR, Finance, Marketing, Sales Ops, etc., counterparts? What if we took the time to craft the value proposition before we talked to our bosses? We’re still responsible for a desired outcome, however, facilitating the conversation takes more finesse as we’re bringing people into our world and day that have their own world and day to take care of. Food for thought.
This concept is also great for Sales Leaders that manage Managers. What are the best ways to keep your Managers aligned and sharing a vision and goal? There’s still driving and ownership, however, there’s also the facilitation piece. Phew! Being a good leader isn’t easy.
To follow on to my earlier blog post, and the AA-ISP Annual Leadership Summit help April 20-22, our Birds of a Feather Roundtable tackled the subject of High Performing Sales Leaders. Or better titled, “How to Not Suck as Sales Leader”.
Interestingly enough, the majority of our time together, we spoke about compelling characteristics that we would follow and want to see in ourselves. Here they are in order of importance:
1. Competence – does this person know what the heck they’re talking about? Is this person a student of game and interested in mastering their craft? For example, if they’re a Sales Leader – what books are they reading, who are they networking with, what new skills are they developing?
2. Transparency – does this person share (to the extend they can as a leader) and provide a why and how? We know, in any situation and company, there is information that cannot be shared for a variety of reasons. However, secrets can make your culture toxic as the rumor mill starts in the vacuum of no-information. A true leader steps in, provides information as appropriate, and eliminates the vacuum immediately. (The side benefit being everybody is then focused on work.)
3. Authenticity – is this person genuine? Do they care about me as a person? In addition to running the team for the company? There is enough evidence out there, in addition to our own personal testimonies, highlighting the fact that people leave their bosses, not the company. We’d give our all and follow people that care about us, coach us, and mentor us. We’ll do our job for people that don’t.
The general consensus from the group was these characteristics are motivating, empowering, and provide us with confidence in our leaders. We’d follow people displaying these characteristics, run through walls for them, because these traits make it feel like more than a job.
The other interesting piece is, and one we are all familiar with, there is a BIG difference between a Leader and a Manager. This was a great discussion high lighting those differences and a great reminder for everyone at the table to be mindful of the characteristics we’re displaying.
I had the honor and privilege of attending the AA-ISP Leadership Summit held in Chicago last week and had a great time. Connected with old friends, made new ones, and learned new “stuff” about my profession.
For those of you not familiar with the AA-ISP; it is the only Association dedicated to advancing the profession of Inside Sales. Check them out at www.aa-isp.org.
I volunteered to host a Birds of a Feather Roundtable titled Best Practices of High Performing Inside Sales Leaders of Day 2 of the conference and we had a great discussion. Upon further reflection, the group decided perhaps “How to not suck as a sales leader” was a little more catchy and to the point.
Our conversation broke into two buckets:
1. Characteristics of good leaders. What are the character traits of leaders we’ll run through walls for? And are we, as leaders at this table, exhibiting those traits?
2. Quantifiable skills. If you’re leading a sales team, do you have the sales chops to get on the phone, talk with customers, close the deal, manage up, in addition, to managing your team. Interesting note, the quantifiable skills weren’t as soulfully important as the characteristics or being able to manage up throughout the organization. (Meaning, people want air cover, to be part of a team, and to feel that they won’t be thrown to the wolves.)
More to come on this topic as this is a big topic, very relevant and hot right now, and there is a lot to unpack.
Hello and welcome to the Inside Sales by Design blog. My name is Dionne Mischler, Founder of Inside Sales by Design, 17+ year Sales Veteran, and student of Sales. This blog focuses on sales in the 21st Century, best practices, what successful companies are doing, and how customers choose to buy.
We’ll focus on what successful sales organizations and leaders in the 21st century look like. We’ll take a look at best practices being used, how to implement them, and how to navigate the new world order of sales.
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