Interesting comments from a number of readers on a blog I did back in February on what it takes to become a sales leader. I realized as a result of that blog and the comments and questions that I received, that I knew a whole lot more about what a sales leader is not, than what a true leader of salespeople really is.
For example, I know that a sales leader is not...
- Captain Command & Control
This guy is all about gruffness and full blunt force, marked by swearing and shouting in public coupled with a list of not-so-veiled threats about being fired.
The result in what he creates is always a small salesforce of dispirited workers who run for cubicle cover and start looking at their shoes every time "The Captain" marches into the office. You would think that after all of these years, this dinosaur had finally been bogged down in the tar pits of the 1980's and been classified as extinct, but he's still out there shouting even louder since all of the good salespeople have already jumped off of his ship.
- Mary Micromanager
Mary isn't quite sure what exactly her leadership role is as a new sales manager since she quickly rose through the ranks from BDR to sales rep to team leader and is now a district or regional manager.
As a result, she never really had the time or the support from her managers to be properly trained and, as a result, she was just thrown into the deep end of the pool to see if she would either sink or swim. Mary has now become the ubersalesperson looking for more and more detail and constantly doing activity follow up with her team while she basically drives them nuts. What Mary has not yet learned is that there are manager roles, like Player-Coach, where she can bring real value to the team and allow them the freedom to do their front line job... perhaps in many cases better than she could do it.
- Tommy Technology
T2 is a manager who is all about technology and replacing F2F field salespeople with inside sales teams armed with highly integrated CRM platforms and a variety of apps.
I'm all for integrating tech stuff into sales processes and strongly believe that technology platforms like Insight Squared, Hubspot and Brainshark, wrapped around formal sales processes, can improve average sales productivity by 25%. But, the problem with having Tommy as a manager is that he has forgotten about delivering customer value, and he's run way too fast right to the edge of the cliff never looking back to see if his salespeople are following him or are just going to watch him jump into the abyss shouting... "Good riddance, Tommy."
So, just what is Sales Leadership?
So, as I said, I'm pretty good at understanding what sales leadership is not, but I'm still pretty sure that if I had to teach even a general 101 course on leadership, let alone sales leadership, I would not have much to say after the first or second class.
As a result, I've been packing up the summer beach bag, that hangs quietly in the garage all winter amid various beach towels and chairs, with a variety of books and downloaded articles that I've come across this year as I try to figure out just what being a sales leader is all about.
A good place for me to start was this article from McKinsey on...
"The BullS--- of Leadership." I also thought that it's something that you might also find worthwhile. Since so much of defining "leadership" is to provide examples, most of the books that are referenced in the article are about individuals. My intent is to read through a number of them during the summer...in between my normal prep reading on the beach for next semester's marketing course at Tufts and MIT's business planning classes.
Master of the Senate, (about Lyndon Johnson) by Robert Caro
The Power Broker,, (about Robert Moses), by Robert Caro
Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson
Team of Rivals (about Lincoln) by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Influence of Science & Practice by Robert Cialdini
Need Your Guidance & ideas...
Given all of this reading about sales leadership and sales management, I and the rest of the partners at the firm could use your help, guidance and opinions.
For approximately 15 years, we've run twice-a-year Sales Management Boot Camps. Limited to 20, maybe 25, individuals who are managing other salespeople, these 2.5 day programs held in the unique setting of the MIT Endicott House, 20 miles outside of Boston, focus on a wide variety of sales leadership topics crossing an equally wide variety of industries and markets. We've found that the industry variety is actually key to the success of these programs since managers can openly discuss their issues in a confidential environment where there are no competitors, but there's deep experience in size, in type and in the industries of the attendees.
Taught by my guys and a number of well recognized sales management experts in the Boston community, we're gearing up for another program in November. The question that I would greatly appreciate your guidance on and direction for is simply...
"If you were to come to a sales management leadership program, what would you want to learn?"
Your help would be very much appreciated. Thanks!
IT'S TIME TO TUNE UP YOUR OWN BUSINESS & MARKETING PLANS
Also, since you're now deep into Q2, you just may want to put aside a day during the next two weeks to refine and update your 2016 Business Plan, or at least your 2016 Sales and Marketing Plans. To get you started, click here and receive a downloaded copy of our Writing the Winning Business Plan, 2016 edition.
Another opportunity for preparing now for Q4 is to do the same type of "relook" at the basics of your 2016 Marketing Plan after reviewing our ebook on "How to Write a Marketing Plan". This consists of mostly solid basics and tactical structure stuff...which just might be the perfect thing to do right now before you dive too deeply into Q3.
...and, of course, if you just want to talk through some of where you are right now and use us as a confidential sounding board...or do a short Whiteboarding Session with any of us, just email me, and we will work out a convenient schedule.
Derby Management...for 25 years
-Sales & Marketing Productivity Experts
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Box 171322, Boston, MA 02117
Jack's Cell: 617-504-4222