January is a time for new perspective and a fresh start, whether your sales year parallels the calendar year or fiscal ends in the middle of the summer.
As a sales leader, your energy and insight are critical for the success of your team. You set the tempo. You set the tone. So here are three resolutions for you to consider as you enter the new year.
ONE: Resolve to coach more and sell less.
Ironically, the greatest temptation in sales leadership is not being a leader at all but a glorified salesperson.
I totally understand yielding to this temptation. I’ve done it many times myself. The pressure to hit your number is intense, so you do things without thinking—going on calls your reps should be going on without you and closing deals that your reps should be closing on their own.
But stop and reflect.
Every time, and I mean every time, you do something for a salesperson that this salesperson could do themselves, you’re undermining the growth of that salesperson and creating a debilitating dependency on you. This is not leadership.
“Getting things done through others is a fundamental leadership skill. Indeed, if you can’t do it, you’re not leading,” declare Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan in Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done.
Yes, you read that right. You’re. Not. Leading.
Leadership gets things done through others, as opposed to doing those things oneself. Leadership views people development as a strategic investment, and, as a result, builds robust organizational capacity. Sales leadership coaches salespeople to become better sellers, not acting like a superstar who checks into the game to take the final shot.
And here’s the best part. When you resolve to coach more and sell less, in the end you’ll sell more as well. Much more!
TWO: Resolve to empower more strategic prospecting.
We all know that prospecting changed forever in the last decade. What used to be a raw numbers game, make enough cold calls and you’ll get enough first appointments, has turned into a black hole, no amount of cold calls seem to generate first appointments.
We know this but don’t manage to it. It’s much easier to manage the volume of outbound sales activity than true strategic prospecting with its subtleties and nuances. So we get what we manage, wasteful calling campaigns and useless email blasts.
Resolve to lead prospecting differently this year by implementing these four proven practices:
- Call on the top 20%. Here is the 80/20 principle for sales: 80% of won deals come from 20% of qualified prospects. Almost without exception. Help your sales team apply this principle by thinking through the top 20% of their list and doubling down on meaningful outbound contact with them.
- Leverage LinkedIn connections. LinkedIn is a treasure trove of information for any sales professional. Without exception, someone I want to know knows someone I already know and an introduction is a mere request away. LinkedIn isn’t a magic bullet (Don’t let anyone sell you that snake oil), but it is a path to warm introductions, which is half the battle in prospecting.
- Cultivate referral partners. Your clients have existing relationships with non-competing companies that could help you get in the door. The reverse is true as well. Cultivate these relationships to turn cold calls into warm leads and won deals. PartnerTap is the best app on the planet to help you do just that.
- Host a learning event. Hosting a learning event is by far the most effective means for generating warm leads. The problem is, it’s labor intensive. But with a good list, great food, a hot topic, and a little help from marketing, you could have a room qualified prospects to call on for weeks and weeks. Do one event a quarter and sales will never be the same.
FREE DOWNLOAD: How to Host the Ultimate Off-Line Marketing Event
THREE: Resolve to be a positive emotional presence
Sales is hard work. It’s is like riding a bicycle … uphill … with the wind in your face … all day, every day. The crazy thing is, most of the salespeople I know are fine with that. It’s the life they signed up for. They wouldn’t have it any other way.
Here’s what they don’t want, however. They don’t want their sales manager driving in a car beside them screaming out the window at them. They want their sales manager to build them up, cheer them on, inspire them to greatness.
That’s what I mean by the phrase positive emotional presence.
When a leader has positive emotional presence, he or she understands that human beings aren’t robots and need regular doses of inspiration and motivation to do their best work. Positive emotional presence makes human connection a high priority and dispenses regular doses of gratitude and appreciation. Positive emotional presence regulates one’s own emotions as well, ensuring the contagion of negativity doesn’t infect those around them.
Positive emotional presence doesn’t ignore correction when correction is needed, but it takes the time to make sure that truly is the case. It follows the principle of praising in public and correcting in private without exception. Finally, when correction if given, it’s done with dignity and grace so that the one receiving it feels valued and respected.
Again, because so much of what salespeople experience in the marketplace is negative (bicycle, hill, wind), they need their manager to counteract this negativity. You do this by providing consistent positive emotional presence as a way of being. Resolve to be this kind of leader in 2020 and beyond.