One of the very best questions you can ask yourself as a sales manager is this: “If I were to leave today, what are the first three changes the person who follows me will make without hesitation?” The power in this question is that you have to face the fact that you have problems, challenges, and opportunities that you are not taking action on now.
If it’s not bad enough that you have problems and challenges that are unaddressed, the more egregious error here is that you are aware that these problems and challenges exist and do nothing. And I’m not being unsympathetic here, because I have yet to meet a leader for which this issue is nonexistent.
It is difficult to hire, train, and develop a new employee. It’s easier to allow the underperforming employee to continue in the role. It isn’t better for the company. Nor is it better for the team on which this employee works. And if they’re customer facing, it certainly isn’t better for the customer. But it’s better for you because you don’t have to recruit, train and develop a new employee.
Your sales team is too transactional. They are not creating enough value for your clients. They lack the business acumen and situational knowledge, and they lack the subject matter expertise. Truth be told, they aren’t very deep in product knowledge either. It’s easier to allow them to simply maintain their existing clients the best they can and eke out the best results of which they’re capable. It’s much more difficult to do the work of coaching and developing individual salespeople into value creators who a client might consider a peer and a trusted advisor.
You live in reactive mode. You have 12 people on your team, most of whom you treat as if they are dependents. You don’t allow them to make decisions for themselves. You handle every difficult client conversation, fearful that they might make a mistake that costs you the deal (something you can’t afford, because they are not prospecting, and you have no real pipeline). The only time you drag yourself away from the inbox is to close the deal for a rep who should know how to effectively win the business on their own.
In sales, we are in the business of helping our clients change. As leaders we are in the business of growing those in our charge, helping them to be more, do more, have more, and contribute more. Leaders are responsible for building a pipeline of leaders. Leaders are also in the business of helping each individual achieve their best performance. All coaches may not be leaders, but all leaders are coaches.
The most difficult person for any of us to change is ourselves. The unfortunate and difficult part of this truth is that until we can change ourselves, we are impotent when it comes to helping grow those in our charge, build a pipeline of leaders, and help each person on our team achieve the best performance of which they are capable.
Problems don’t age well. Producing better results in all these areas starts by first changing yourself. Whether it be apathy, complacency, or burnout, if you are a leader, you are in the business of change. And in this business, you go first.
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Filed under: Leadership