“Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude” – Thomas Jefferson
Executive sales leaders have a huge opportunity to grow more revenue, build a world-class sales department, and be the envy of their competitors. However, it is not going to be easy and therein lies the problem. Not too long ago I heard from an EVP of sales that he did not want to bring the same level of accountability to his sales management team that he has in place for his sales producers. What? How could you be against asking your sales managers to not be held to the same standard of accountability and expectations of their sales reps? I mean, that is leadership 101 – do not expect of others what you are not willing to expect of yourself. As we dialogued further however, I realized that while I absolutely did not agree with this EVP’s decision or mentality I did understand it.
In many cases the gap between great leaders, average leaders, and poor leaders is not a lack of intellectual understanding of what it takes to be exceptional. Almost every sales leader can go to any sales leadership conference or seminar and nod along to all the practical and informative information that the presenter is communicating. However, understanding what it takes to be a great sales leader is not the challenge; the challenge is being emotionally ready to take on all the responsibility that comes with being an exceptional leader. To use an analogy think about personal health. Nobody in their right mind would disagree that eating healthier and exercising more regularly is the smart thing to do for multiple reasons, but does everyone execute accordingly – hardly. In fact, more than 25% of people make no change to their lifestyle following their own personal heart attack or stroke, let alone one experienced by a close friend or relative. The difference between understanding and executing is a chasm in many facets of our lives and sales management is not any different. This is why I disagree with the EVP from above, but do understand. What he was saying is that his team was not emotionally ready to make a change and that if he forced that change it would not stick and thus there would be no ROI at this time.
“The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” – John Bingham
Not being emotionally ready for change is a real thing, but great leaders should not let it stand in the way of them beginning to start to make the change occur. A great starting point is to understand this this shift in behavior or responsibility is going to be an evolution not a revolution, it will not happen overnight, and it will most definitely be a decision that has its fits and starts. Possibly the best advice I got from a world-class runner upon preparing for my first half marathon was this “there will be multiple times when you want to quit or give up, but don’t, because when you cross the finish line you will realize that running has nothing to do at all with the finish line – it’s about becoming a better person. Start small and build on each run”. This profound advice got me through a lot of tough times while training, but I continue to apply it to my everyday life and believe sales managers should as well.
Below are 3 ways for sales management teams to begin starting small towards becoming better leaders:
- Pick one of these five high pay-off sales management activities to commit to and develop your skills accordingly
- Download the read this sales coaching e-book – pay close attention to the areas that you are doing great and the areas where you could improve.
- Track and Analyze the activities and behaviors your are doing with each and every one of your sales reps. Your sales reps are your most important customers and without a compass guiding your actions it will be hard to understand how much your actions leading to how much gets sold or how much doesn’t.
Whether you are taking the “first step” or the “next step” always remember that sales managers are the key to organic growth. The higher you raise your bar, the higher sales will rise underneath it!
Make sure to download and enjoy your free sales coaching e-book!