Article word count: 621 words - Approximate time to read: 2.4 minutes
A Sales Manager needs to lead from the front by starting the day, most days, leading a team meeting.
Win their Hearts and Minds
Leadership is about winning your salespeople’s hearts and minds. That’s done by co-creating goals and tasks with them, face to face, in an interactive meeting; not barking instructions while walking past their desk.
Why is it important for your sales team to view you as a leader?
Consider the Sigmoid Curve.
Management thinker, Charles Handy, refers to the Sigmoid Curve as an S-shaped curve that corresponds to every human system.
The first phase is experimentation and learning, the second period is doing the job, performing well. But ultimately every curve turns downward.
The way to curb the downward spiral is to start a fresh, upward curve before the downward direction has gone too far. Constant reinvention.
A salesperson’s attitude and performance in a job resembles the S-curve of a Sigmoid Curve. At the start they are keen, enthusiastic, wanting to do well. But if left alone to just ‘do the job’, they peak then finally effort starts to turn south.
But here’s the secret. Leading from the front and creating a collaborative learning environment starts a fresh Sigmoid Curve, which keeps your team on track.
Let’s say the typical life cycle of a salesperson in an industry is three years. The first year they are learning how to do the job competently. You, as the Sales Manager, have their respect.
The second year they do the job competently and you may feel they don’t need as much of your input, so you might leave them alone. But that’s the pitfall; if left alone to just ‘do the job’, the third year’s performance and attitude may drop exponentially. They either leave, or if they stay on, are actively disengaged. This poor mindset may bring down the performance not only of themselves, but also of others around them.
The Sales Manager can prevent this negative spiral by leading from the front, daily.
Let me ask you. When, where and how often do you talk to your team in a meeting environment?I don’t mean issuing an instruction while walking past their desk. Or do you even try to lead by email?
Create a Learning Organisation
The Sales Manager becomes the Sales Leader by becoming the Sales Trainer.
Here’s how to do it
In your office create a separate learning space with a table and chairs for attendees and a flipchart with paper or whiteboard.
Each morning invite your team to sit at the table. Stand (and that’s important. Don’t sit.) and lead a discussion around a specific learning topic or question, before or after you bring up any operational items.
You can brainstorm, continuously improve, or ask individuals to share what’s working for them.
Record key ideas on the flipchart. Standing gives you easy access.
To stand to lead a short discussion enhances your personal power; you come across as more confident and competent. In their eyes, you are literally more ‘elevated’.
Here are a few topic ideas:
- Ways to ask for the order.
- How to upsell.
- Which time-wasters can we eliminate?
- Instead of discounting, what value can we add?
- What’s the best time-frame for following up?
You’ll find the list of topics is endless.
Start most days with a learning meeting, then notice how your people feel more inspired, more motivated. Because you’ve opened the lines of communication, there’s less likely to be an undercurrent of negativity.
When you consider the cost in dollars and time of replacing a poor performing staff member, this one daily tactic can save you thousands of dollars per annum and create a change in culture that boosts sales and increases team morale.