leadership is the foundation for effective sales force management. But
what is it really?
Define Sales leadership...You may as well ask what
is love, or the
meaning of life. A sales manager's leadership is such an intangible,
and the attributes of effective leaders are subjective. It is also
relative. A judge once said, “I can’t define pornography, but I know it
when I see it.” So it is true with leadership.
Like the judge, I cannot define good leadership,
but I know it when I am following it.
received my sales leadership training under enemy fire as part of Task
Force Ranger during combat operations in Somalia. I lived to tell about
it my book Corporate Infantry:
Everything I know about corporate sales I learned in combat.
A third of this book is devoted to those
real-world leadership lessons
I learned in combat, and are directly transferable to you in your sales
Rule of Sales Leadership
any level, anyone responsible for accomplishing a mission that involves
other people, is a leader. Anyone who influences others, affects their
thinking, or decision-making to motivate them into action, is a leader.
golden rule of sales leadership, more important than any other, the
single item that without it makes everything else ineffectual is that
you must love subordinates.
Okay, now lets all hug.
be a good leader, there has to be a paternalistic overtone. Good
leaders love their subordinates. Despite their flaws, despite their
mistakes, despite their shortcomings, despite everything, you have to
love them. Just as a good father loves his children, so should a good
leader love their subordinates.
Without his underlying core
requirement of sales leadership, everything else a good leader has to
do will be forced and fraudulent. If you are generally narcissistic and
do not love others where they are in life, it will be tough for you to
be a good leader.
You may be a great autocrat. You may even see
some results. Yet, you will never get the best results possible. Your
subordinates will only do the bare minimum to keep you appeased. Or
worse yet, work against you to insure your demise.
in sales leadership stems from this paternalistic love. When a sales
manager has paternalistic love for their subordinates, it causes that
sales manager to have ownership of them. Just like a father says,
“That’s my boy,” you will say “that’s my sales team' those are my
salespeople, that’s my crew.” Pride of ownership naturally stems from
this paternalistic view.
I loved my sales staffs. They were
some of the best salespeople I have ever met. They were professional,
committed, and generally good people.
Sometimes they were
assholes, like everyone. Some I did not even like. Despite all their
faults, and at their lowest point, you just have to remember that at
the very least, they volunteered to be in sales. How can you not love
them for that!?
I did not like them all, but I did love them. This
paternalistic love must be balanced, however.
You must make sure that you have empathy. Empathy, not sympathy. Have
empathy all day long. It is when you start feeling sympathetic towards
your subordinates that you can get into trouble.
Sympathy: Having pity for someone because of the
position they are in.
Empathy: Having an understanding of the feelings
that someone has because of the position they are in.
difference is subtle. When you have sympathy for someone, you rationale
there actions. Where in you have empathy for someone you understand
their actions but withhold agreeing with or condoning those actions.
If you feel sorry (again, not empathy) for your
sales staff or individuals you will start making excuses for them.
“Oh, he is such a party-boy. He didn’t get much
sleep last night, that is why he blew the presentation for the rest of
she been really trying hard, and she is so sweet. All her clients love
her. I wonder why she hasn't closed a deal in three months?”
he has a mean wife and two kids in college. He has been working really
hard, but is in a dry spell. That’s why he stole that lead.”
They were wrong. The excuses you use to justify poor performance,
actually brings the rest of your sales team down. Try to counsel
the first two (because you have empathy) in order to bring about
change. Get rid of the the lead thief. No excuses are available for his
Taking care of
those that take care of you (and your paycheck)
know if you love them as human beings or not. Not intrinsically, so to
speak. But if you take care of your sales force, they will take care of
you. If you love them for who they are, they know this and take care of
you, and will follow you through hell while carrying buckets full of
you realize and acknowledge this paternal love in sales leadership, the
paternal responsibility comes. Just like a father taking care of his
children, ensures they are fed, schooled, and given everything they
need to success. So should a sales manager insure their sales force is
fed (leads), receive training and schooling, and have what they need to
be effective in the field.
Taking care of them means you are required to
develop them personally and professionally. The best way to do this is
them. Leaders counsel
counsel their subordinates. And, since you are a in Sales leadership,
so must you.
Train them on effective time management
, so they can make more money and spend more time with their families.
Teach them that Sales is Simple, so they can close more deals.
Develop the proper sales and marketing plans based up marketing insights
, so that they have some structure to what they do, and won't have to
pound the pavement so hard.
Hire me to help you do all this in a timely manner
using my trademarked CoachSulting
Too many times as sales leaders we allow our
subordinates to work themselves to death. It is like the Reverse Pony Express.
Make them take vacations, and set the example by taking vacations
yourself (see below about setting the example).
leadership is the constant balance of "Quota First. Salespeople
Always". When you ask a leader in the Army what is more important the
Mission or the Men? They will answer, "Yes."
It is a delicate balance between meeting your
quotas and killing your people to do it.
Lastly, invest in some Sales
to make your people more effective and increase their job satisfaction.
is up to you, brother, to do these things to take care of your sales
team. No one else is going to do it, or is more qualified to do it but
example and actions
lead by example and their actions. They lead by setting the example for
others to follow. They never ask a subordinate to do something they
themselves are not willing to do.
you want them to look and dress sharp. Then you better look and dress
sharp. If you want them to be on time for your sales meetings, then you
better be on time for them when conducting your ride-alongs. You do
If not, you have got to learn how to do some
Follow this link for an excerpt from the GOMA
chapter in my book Corporate
Infantry: Everything I know about corporate sales I learned in combat.
I could not imagine making subordinates come in on
a Saturday to
work, and me not being there. On the other hand, if my leader is
pulling a 24-hour shift, how can I complain about doing it?
sales staff is a direct reflection upon your sales leadership. Before
you can change them, you must set the example for them to follow.
You are just a
must be technically and tactically proficient. In most cases, you need
to be the information, mentoring source in any number of areas. Here is
the kicker. Ready? You do not need to be the expert; you just need to
know how to find the expert.
To find an expert (me) for developing your sales
leadership and for help in building a world-class sales team,
need to know how to find information; you need to know where to
appropriate the tools of the trade; you need to know how to solve your
subordinates' problems. Do you know why this is you all-important sales
manager, you all too important regional sales manager, you omnipotent
district manager, you Zeus-like CSO?
The answer is because all you are is simply a
proficient resource for your subordinate.
too many times, we become confused and think our subordinates are our
resources. You have it backwards. You and your corporate staff should
be nothing but a resource to help salespeople sell more.
should not be asking your sales staff for reports so you can make
pretty graphs. Shame on you! Instead, corporate should be giving you
reports so that you can give your sales staff reports to help them
Yet corporate leadership does exactly the opposite
the time. Corporate should be a resource, not a constant source of
distraction from selling.
It always amazes me when corporate
comes down and asks, "Hey guys, what is our competition doing out
there?" I always respond in my head, "shouldn't you be telling us
The people in corporate are trying to do their
understand they want this information to make the corporation better
prepared. God bless them even for asking and thinking about what the
competition is doing. I just cannot understand why it is a
salesperson's job to provide the information.
It is time
consuming, and a distraction from selling. Corporate should collect
this information, and then have sales verify it. More often than not,
it happens the other way around.
Do what you
say you are going to do, even if it hurts
a good leader, you have got to do what you say you are going to do.
Your subordinates have got to believe you without question and your
integrity must be unquestionable.
someone from your sales team calls you up and you over-commit to them
on a delivery date, you better deliver it on time. If some yahoo out in
the field puts out an unprofitable quote, you have to do the same
thing. You must deliver the product at the quote price.
Deal with the yahoo so that it doesn’t happen
again, but deliver as promised.
both instances are going to hurt. But, the reputation of you and your
company depends upon it. The pain of a bad reputation will last a lot
longer (and affect your bottom line more), than the pain of having to
deliver at a loss.
Your sales team needs to know that they can
trust your word, and know that you will back them. This will allow them
to sell with confidence and certainty. When you have a sales team
selling with certainty and confidence, their increased sales will erase
the costs of any mistakes.
charge, take charge
Taking charge does not have to mean coming in and ball-busting. It does
not mean you burrow down in the weeds, and have your hands in
everything. It is tough to explain in tangibles what exactly taking
charge in sales leadership is.
you talk to experienced helicopter pilots, they will tell you that
there is a definitive moment in their training when they stop going to
just fly their helicopter, and they go out and strap the helicopter on.
Do you see and understand the subtle difference?
Instead of you
being a part of the helicopter in order to make it fly, the helicopter
becomes and extension of you. Instead of sitting in the helicopter, you
strap on the helicopter. The helicopter actually becomes an extension
of the pilot's body.
That is what taking charge should
feel like. You should not be in charge of your sales staff, office
workers, or corporation. You need to take charge of them. Instead of
becoming part of the organization you are in charge of, make that
organization an extension of you. Strap on your people, or your team,
or your corporation.
Take ownership of them and fly them. They
want to be lead, and they need to be lead... Lead them with your sales
leadership that you just received with this sales leadership training.
to the top of this sales leadership page click here
To return to the home
page click here