I know it may appear that the title of my article this week is a little strange. I admit that some weeks, the articles are more difficult to write. But stick with me on this one because I’ve been thinking that leadership is so critical to the success of any sales organization, that it is important to view being a leader from many different viewpoints…including an analogy to food.
Thoroughly Chew and Then Digest
As a leader, you’re going to have many challenges and problems brought to you by your team and also YOUR own management. It is your job and responsibility to make decisions. As the desk sign said on the White House desk of President Harry Truman, “The Buck Stops Here.” But, I have found that making the right decision can often take careful thought on a leader’s part. Considering carefully an important decision, or “chewing it over”, can be critical to the leader in making the right decision. Sometimes, it might seem that there is not time to carefully consider an important decision but make sure and take enough time and weigh your options and digest the facts. Make the best decisions you can based on the information available to you at the time.
You’re going to have a lot on your plate (food reference) as a leader in a sales organization. Your supervisor relies on you to have a ‘line of sight’ on your business at all times. You will be asked constantly about how your team is doing relative to the achievement of their sales goals…it’s part of your job to know where you stand. Your team is also going to come to you with questions, requests, and demands. To me, “Portion Control” means not trying to ‘multi-task’ everything at once. In fact, the entire concept of ‘multi-tasking’ is questionable because my experience shows me that by doing too much at the same time, you really achieve less of your goals. Work your daily ‘to-do’ list sequentially, if you can, because I’ve found that I can accomplish more by taking things in smaller bites (yet another food reference).
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
Every article about health speaks to the importance of drinking enough water during the day. It looks like everyone I see is carrying around a water bottle, so the importance of hydration seems to be understood. How does this relate to leadership?
I view the need for hydrating as akin to the need for the leader to continually interacting with the sales team and, importantly, with clients. It’s very easy for leaders to get caught up in internal meetings and also being anchored in their office. Sometimes those actions are unavoidable, but I suggest that they be limited as much as possible. Leaders need to be with their teams. I can’t overstate how important morale and culture is to a sales team. The best leaders always have understood the pulse of the team and know when there are warning signs of discontent. These strong leaders know when to step in and prevent rumblings from becoming team member departures.
Being out on client meetings with the sales team is also incredibly important. It’s important that your clients see that sales leadership is interested enough in their business to come to meetings. Customers want to be appreciated and senior sales management attending client meetings can demonstrate the appreciation of their business.
Effective leaders know that they are role models for their teams…whether they want to be or not. The team watches carefully how the leader responds to both good news and bad. The best leaders I’ve worked for keep an even temperament in all situations. They are the ‘drivers of the team bus,’ and they need to be conscious of road (sales) conditions at all times and respond decisively, and smoothly, to any hazards in the road. Sales teams are most effective when they are confident and steady leadership helps build and maintain that confidence.