Over the past few posts, I have been discussing my philosophy of sales management I call the Principles of Sales Leadership. Just to recap, in my first post, I talked about the principles of Teamwork and Trust and having a Sense of Urgency, which to me means treating your team with trust and respect, and recognizing that making things happen most often requires contributions from other parts of the business organization. In my last post, I talked about the intangible aspects of Territory ownership, recognizing that sales professionals recognize the accountability they have to the business and how management rewards this accountability through their actions (such as paying their reps more than they make).
In this post, I’m going to discuss the more personal aspects of sales leadership: having passion for what you sell, and communicating that passion and direction as a sales leader. When Funnel Metrics assesses sales leadership, we look for the emotional elements of management to see if they are present within the team and their managers.
Passion comes from the heart, and I have always been very passionate about building top performing and extremely competitive sales teams. Salespeople should always be enthusiastic about the products they sell. Enthusiasm and passion will radiate when in front of prospects and customers, while complacency and apathy can destroy any team.
I always tell salespeople that if they ever start losing passion for what we’re selling, please come and see me. And I would always try to do everything in my power to get them pumped up again about our products and future initiatives. On the rare occasions where I could not convince them to drink the Kool Aide, then I would encourage them to find another home. Quite honestly, there are just too many sales positions out there to be miserable in your current environment. And if too many good reps keep leaving, then maybe management needs to do some soul searching.
I would often reflect on how I can improve as the leader of a sales organization. I believed that one of my primary responsibilities was to set a standard of excellence. I always expected a lot from my teams and pushed them hard to produce, but I had to look myself in the mirror and make sure I was giving them much more in return for their hard work and commitment.
CSO’s must set a standard of excellence through leading by example. The only way for a CSO to earn a sales team’s respect is to deliver on your commitments. There needs to be trust and follow through. All I would ever ask my sales team was to do their jobs to the best of their ability. Give 100% every day because the price of achieving greatness is taking personal responsibility.
I would always say the following at some point during our annual sales team kick-offs, “Stand up and take ownership in the tasks at hand, keep the passion burning strong and never settle for mediocrity in anything you put your name on. We all share the responsibility to continually develop our skills as sales professionals and become the best that we can be. Each salesperson contributes to and shapes the selling culture at our company. As revenue generators, this team will ultimately make the difference in our organization’s success or failure. Work hard, work smart, be team players and remain focused on your goals and objectives. This sales organization has tremendous potential and I am honored to lead it. Thank you for your commitment to excellence and remember we will only win as a team.”
Over the past few weeks, I’ve shared my Principles of Sales Leadership to demonstrate that there is more to sales management than just metrics, analysis and reporting. It’s true that the mechanics of sales management are important to developing a successful team. However, equally important is the need to challenge yourself as a sales leader to take personal responsibility for leading the team. That includes:
- Building and inspiring trust and respect from the team both for you and for the rest of your business.
- Creating the appropriate sense of urgency and accountability within yourself and your team to overcome the obstacles to closing, recognizing that you depend on many others outside sales to support you.
- Understanding and cultivating the intangibles around territory ownership, especially the idea that the business depends on the team for its contribution, and to celebrate the success of the team when they achieve (and earn more than you).
- Making the emotional commitment to selling and helping your team attain the same level of passion for what they sell by communicating and encouraging them as a leader.
When we work with clients, we make a special effort to go beyond the analytics to understand how the Principles of Sales Leadership have taken shape in the business. We often find that one or more of these principles is a root cause of issues that occur in sales teams. We also know from experience that it takes a lot of work and commitment to fully implement these principles in a what is usually a chaotic sales environment. We make it a point to advise and work with sales leaders to encourage them to lead by example and to observe these principles in the daily management of their team.
If you are interested in learning more about how we support sales leaders and help them to optimize their team, please contact us for more information.