5 Roles of a Transformational Sales Leader

Transformational Leadership in the Sales World Continued

Part 2.3

In the last topic, our guest author and professional coach, Lindsey Hood talked about the various roles that an effective sales leader has, and when to pivot between them. In the second part of this topic I want to expand on these roles and transition you from an effective sales leader to a transformational one.

Lindsey’s insights are the foundational roles of effective sales leadership.  A Leader, Manager, Mentor, and Coach are all critical to success as a sales leader, and as she mentioned it’s difficult to get it right 100% of the time but without working towards them you’re simply a quota carrying people manager. A successful sales individual can emerge to a successful sales manager, but it takes more than instituting selling strategies and hitting quota goals to be an effective sales leader; and even more to expand that to a transformational one.

THE 5 ROLES OF A TRANSFORMATIONAL SALES LEADER

Effective, transformational leaders must step out of the frame and see the entire picture (yes, I said it again) and recognize that before they are able to even attempt doing it. This is often extremely difficult in the sales world; with the natural emphasis of sales targets as the measure of success it is easy to become hyper focused on this alone; but this is the difference in taking a sales team from good to great with long-term success.

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What’s your Sales Leadership style?

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references>Series: Transformational Leadership in the Sales World What I Really DoVarious Hats of Effective Leader7 Toxic Sins go Leadership | A Key To Over Performance If Done RightAnd So The Story Goes

 

 

What I Really Do: Sales Leadership

Transformational Leadership in the Sales World Continued

Part 2.1 – Sales Leadership

Let’s continue the discussion from the funny Friday meme and talk about the many ‘hats’ of an effective sales leader, and how to expand that into a transformational sales leadership. If you haven’t accepted the meme challenge from Friday – I really want to encourage you to do so to get the most of this topic; plus it’s a 5 minute fun break to pull you away from your daily grind and who doesn’t love a good meme?! 🙂

As a sales leader you have many hats to wear, both internal facing to your team, external facing to the business and also your customers. You are leading, supervising and managing your team to hit the sales number and other business objectives; you are developing and implementing the sales plans and evaluating and managing performance of your teams against this; you are developing and motivating your teams to achieve (and exceed)  revenue goals; you are responsible for their understanding on the direction of the company and the role they play in this as a team, and as individuals. You are also accountable for collaborating with stakeholders within the business so that sales requirements and challenges are understood. Working both cross-functionally and with other sales leaders to ensure the sales strategies and methodologies are aligned to the overall business objectives, and there is full support of the sales strategy from the business. Like many leadership roles, that of a sales leader is no easy task.

A very successful sales individual isn’t the only thing that makes a successful sales leader. I often see a lot of emphasis put on one’s ‘selling track record’ to define their ability to be a successful sales leader; unintentionally forgetting about all the other hats this individual has to put on, and their leadership aptitude for doing so. You must be able to recognize when to pivot between these leadership hats, and how to do so effectively. You are not only doing this with your team members and customers, you are doing it with your sales leadership peers, departmental colleagues, and superiors. This is the difference between a sales leader that is good, one that is great, and one that is world-class. 

Welcome Our Guest!!

I am thrilled to announce that I have invited Lindsey Hood, professional coach, to join in on our discussion as a guest blogger and share her insights!! Tomorrow, Lindsey will kick it off and share her perspective on the roles of an effective sales leader – so stick around, share your thoughts and welcome her!

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Greener Grass… So They Say

“The grass isn’t always green[er] on the other side [of the fence]…”

“The grass isn’t always greener on the other side, it’s greener where you water it…”

“The grass is greener where you water it…”

We’ve all heard these green grass quotes. Commonly used as popular analogies to say, ‘it’ could always be worse; whatever your ‘it’ may be and the ‘other side’ being a metaphor for what may be beyond your reach, or possibilities that you may not have on your side. The grass is a symbol that can represent anything and everything pertaining to your life or a particular circumstance. The color representing what everyone wants as it relates to their own version of ‘it’ on their side: green, plush, barefoot grass. The problem I have with this is the ambiguity that there is another side, and the grass can still be greener. Even though the iterations of this quote became more meaningful by adding the water metaphor, implying that you have to nourish and work at something – it still distracts from the message. Greener? Greener than what? Another side? What if I want to water the other side after I know what’s over there? What if the other grass requires less water?? NO, NO, AND NO…all figuratively speaking of course to keep the consistency, but you get the point.

From my perspective, to get to the core meaning of this message – you need to remove ANY IDEA that the ‘other side’ exists so that you can focus. Greener is still a comparison.

One time I participated in a group exercise. We were asked to go read through a very large selection of inspiring leadership sticker quotes that were scattered on a number of tables, and pick the one that as a leader we related to the most and stick it on our learning binder. Within a couple of minutes of searching, there was the quote by author Neil Barringham: “The grass is greener where you water it.” I picked it up immediately and knew I didn’t need to look any further. Before placing the sticker on my binder, I crossed out the word greener, and Neil’s name and amended it. Rule breaker… I know! 😉 If you know me well, you know that in addition to hearing “own it” – there is another phrase I also say often:

green grass

It’s simple. If you want green grass, then water it, and that’s the only green that matters. Stop comparing it to an illusive side, closed box or different versions of ‘what if’s’. These are just distractions. This doesn’t mean that you forget about all the possibilities, it means that you realize the possibilities are where you want them to be.

Do you have a favorite ‘green grass’ or inspiring quote? Maybe it’s one of the above I mentioned or a different one? What does it mean to you?

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A Key To Over Performance – If Done Right

Motivation – Results because they want to achieve them

Motivation can be tricky and daunting. I often see organizations very focused on extrinsic motivation, and allowing intrinsic motivation takes a backseat. Before we dive in to what I mean, here is a quick illustration to differentiate the two types of motivation:

motivation types

Intrinsic motivation is critical to being a transformational leader, and the differentiator in motivating employees to overachievement. The art of motivation can be figured out, as long as you understand one thing: there is not and will never be a single formula to motivate employees on a mass scale. Motivation is like a tailor-made suit, designed with only the individual in mind, but first you have to know their measurements to get the perfect fit. To think otherwise is simply a missed opportunity to take your staff from good to great and achieving to over achieving. Dwight D. Eisenhower said it best:

quote-Dwight-D.-Eisenhower-leadership-is-the-art-of-getting-someone-490Sales is a great example of where intrinsic motivation can often be forgotten. “Sales people are motivated by money! Show them the money, and they’ll do it.” Sure, money does in fact incentivize sales folks – but it’s not an rule of thumb. Let me just debunk that myth with a quick story.

I was leading the creation of sales campaign – with the goal to build up a solid pipeline during what was historically a very slow quarter for our business. I pulled together an amazing team to collaborate and ensure this was the most successful campaign yet. We evaluated all of the lessons learned from past campaigns that didn’t yield the results we were hoping for and addressed them. As the team and started to build a solid plan, with enough time to prepare the execution {for once}, we knew if it just had an achievable target for the reps backed by a killer incentive we would crush it. We solicited a ton of feedback from the reps, created a simple go to market message for a focused audience, and even sweetened the deal by incorporating a lucrative incentive for our clients. The sales incentive was standard quota attainment paid via commission, a heafy heafy SPIF on top of that, and of course a healthy competition for bragging rights. {For the non-sales folks, a SPIF is basically a sales bonus usually a fixed amount based on a predefined goal – it’s not intended to replace commission}. Listen folks, when I say heafty, I mean it. Between commission potential and the bonus the rep had the opportunity to take home an extra $10K +  for closing a single deal with 90 days to do it, minimum. When you think about an average deal size and sales cycle within this prospect list, it was MORE than achievable. Wow, we were finally going to crush this one. Nope.

Making the assumption that all the reps were incentivized enough at that moment in time by cash and by competition, landed me in one of the easiest traps to fall into; assuming one motivation formula fits all. What I could have done was specifically tailored motivational ‘options’ that encompassed both extrinsic and intrinsic drivers that the reps could choose from so that they were passionate about the result. For example, some of them were looking to transition to management or expand their experience outside of sales, while others were looking for flexibility, and some to get in the field and travel to shows more, others just simply wanting a deeper connection of their impact to the business. A lot of these folks were on their way or already on the ultimate sales leaderboard of presidents club and making money, they weren’t inspired by just my little white board local office competition or the bonus. The worst part is, I KNEW ALL OF THIS…but I just missed the opportunity. It wasn’t intentional, it was simply an after thought. Wouldn’t it have been cool if I had offered a variety of things like working from home, a management development plan, a lead role in planning a sales event or cross functional project, or a front seat to the biggest trade show or conference of the year? Would it have been more work for me to create? Sure, but I can guarantee you, that kind of approach alone to customize drivers would not have gone unnoticed, and naturally would have also created even more enjoyment to preserver in support of my elaborate effort.

Don’t just ask, dig deep and pay attention!

To understand what motivates people, you must first understand where they are in their career, life or circumstance, what their goals are, and what is driving them and sometimes that means a balance of both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. THESE THINGS CAN AND DO CHANGE. For example, if someone has mentioned their spouse just lost their job, their motivators at that time could be money and stability. If someone has expressed their hunger for transitioning their career or field of expertise, or starting their own thing, motivators could be knowledge and purpose. There are some opinions out there that suggesting finding this out is simple, and that you just ask them. I don’t agree with that, it certainly doesn’t hurt however, often times people do not realize what their true motivators are until they are presented with something that brings them true excitement or inspiration. I cannot count the number of times someone has told me one thing motivates them the most, only to see that not be the case.  Someone once told me their #1 motivator was having autonomy and trust from a great leader to make an impact {that’s really 3 things}, only to see when they had that, they were actually more motivated by title and status. In fact, I have even awarded role changes or promotions to folks {justified of course based on achievement and skill} that they insisted on a desire for a change and opportunity to expand their experience across the business; only to have them realize shortly there after that mastery of their original craft and more money is what really inspired them. Guiding people to their purpose to identify their drivers is not easy, but you have to dig deeper, and you have to pay attention. Your employees will appreciate this. Here are few questions you can try:

motivational questions

To sum it up folks, do not miss opportunities to motivate your employees to exceed their ceiling and over perform – not just because they have to, but because they want to. Understanding the factors behind someone’s drive and tailoring methods to achieve all types of motivation is the key.

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