As we have launched our new business, Funnel Metrics, colleagues and friends have been very complementary of the name we selected for our business.  A friend commented that he likes the name because it says what it does.  That is partly true. We do focus heavily on metrics, and opportunity pipeline assessment as important tools that help sales leaders predict and manage the performance of their teams.

As I have reflected on comments around our brand, it reminded me that there are some elements of sales management that are even more fundamental to becoming a great sales manager that I feel are the foundation of my own success as a Sales VP.  These are the elements we expect to observe in any healthy and successful sales team, and without them, we are sure to find underlying issues that are creating problems for both the leaders and the team.

I call these my Principles of Sales Leadership, and over the past 20 years, in sales management roles, I have tried to adhere to these leadership principles when managing sales teams. In this post, I review the first two Principles, Teamwork and Trust, and having a Sense of Urgency.

Teamwork and Trust

Teamwork and trust have always been the building blocks for any successful sales organization.  Teamwork and trust go hand in hand.  It’s difficult to build a team culture without having a strong level of trust at the core.  Trust is earned over time: as the old adage says, “actions speak louder than words”.

Sales leaders must always remember they don’t have all the answers.  Salespeople are closer to the market and customers than anyone else, so it’s important to take the time to listen to their ideas, suggestions and concerns.  Management must constantly do their best to expediently address issues that are impacting sales rep productivity.

In return, salespeople must do their best to communicate in a way that enhances working relationships with peers, managers, subordinates and co-workers.  This can become difficult at times when salespeople are getting hammered by their customers, but they always must remember that they need many different people in the organization to succeed in their roles.

If sales management is to earn the respect of those who are on the front lines selling, and salespeople want their issues addressed in an expedient fashion, then we must treat everyone in a fair, honest and respectful way.  Regardless of position or title, everyone wants to know if you care about them as a person.   Teamwork will flourish so long as we are honest, fair and treat everyone with respect.

Sense of Urgency

I’ve always had a tremendous sense of urgency when it comes to hitting revenue goals in either a management role or when carrying a bag as a rep.  The last time I checked, regardless of industry, every quarter is always just 90 days or less from ending.

Management has the right to ask salespeople at end of every quarter, “What have you done for me lately?”  Therefore, it is imperative that salespeople have a strong sense of urgency when it comes to achieving their quarterly goals.  And they must be tenacious in addressing customer’s needs.

A sense of urgency should be pervasive throughout all functional areas of the business, especially when supporting requests from the sales team.  This is where trust and teamwork very much come into play.   Occasionally, when I was in a sales leadership role, I would ask for help from others outside of the sales department.  Sometimes asking for what seemed at the time to be the impossible.  However, I always had a very good reason (REVENUE) for an urgent ask.  When people outside of the sales department stepped up and went above and beyond for the sales team, I would always make sure to recognize those individuals to their managers, peers and our entire organization.

Top performing salespeople, for the most part, typically earn more than those who support their selling efforts.  So, it’s good to spread the kudos around whenever the opportunity presents itself.

There’s more to this story…

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing more Principles of Sales Leadership that contribute to the foundational success of every sales leader.   What are the basic principles that define your leadership style and capabilities as a sales leader?

If you are interested in learning more about how we assess sales leaders and help them to optimize their team, please contact us for more information.