I’m not the first one to post on this topic, nor will I be the last. But, since I’ve observed that lack of leadership is a primary contributor (not the sole contributor) to the failure of sales teams, I’ve assembled my list based upon my time in leadership and individual contributor roles. I’ve worked for lousy leaders, great leaders and all in between; and I’ve had my own wins and losses carrying the flag. I invite your feedback.
I. THOU SHALT LEAD (REALLY) – Make the strategic decisions, chart the course and LEAD, dammit! Don’t just manage the tactics and numbers. There’s no autopilot here, even if you have an experienced, successful team.
II. THOU SHALT HOLD ALL ACCOUNTABLE – Establish standards, goals and metrics and hold all equally accountable to the same standards – even your top performers. (And yourself.)
III. MODEL WHAT YOU SEEK IN OTHERS – Teams take their cue from their leader. What you do, how you conduct yourself, how you speak tells your team what you expect from them. Being the first to arrive and the last to leave tells your team you value hard work.
IV. THOU SHALT EDUCATE – You are in a leadership position because, presumably, you have more experience than your team. SHARE your experience and knowledge with your team, both as a team and as individuals on an as-needed, but regular basis. The more knowledge they have, the better they will perform.
V. THOU SHALT EMPOWER – Don’t sweat the small stuff. Empower your team to make the battlefield decisions they need to make not only to close the deal, but to enhance their position with the prospect. Nothing says “I’m a worker bee” more than your reps having to tell the prospect “I’ll check with my Manager” every time they ask for something.
VI. EMBRACE ERRORS OF COMISSION – For they are teachable moments. If an error occurs in virgin territory, teach but don’t discipline. These kinds of errors indicate a training gap, or that your reps are doing exactly what you want – exploring new prospects and new solutions.
VII. PENALIZE ERRORS OF OMISSION – Absent any compelling reason, errors of omission are caused by rushing, not thinking or even not caring. None of these are acceptable. If you give your best everyday, you have every right to demand that from your team.
VIII. THOU SHALT EDUCATE MORE – Jack Welch said “Hire people smarter than you.” How do they get that way? My first management trainer said “You make yourself promotable when you train your replacement.” The smarter you keep your team, the smarter they’ll make you look.
IX. WATCH THE METRICS – But don’t lose sight of the goal in doing so. Numbers are a means to an end, but the human factor can blow it all away.
X. LISTEN AND BE HUMBLE – Your team is your boots on the ground and vital source of intel. LISTEN when they tell you about objections, deal breakers and competition. NEVER be dismissive, but maintain perspective to determine if this is intel or an excuse for failure. Do not forget that you once walked that same road. It will help you keep perspective.