A top sales executive with a fortune 100 company recently told me “We need our people to be better leaders.” Leadership is one of the buzzwords that I keep hearing during the year. As companies are continuing to look for new and different ways to be successful in the current economic environment, many are looking towards having better leaders throughout their organizations as a way to differentiate themselves in the market.
Does anyone following the NFL ever wonder what a team is doing with a draft pick? Often times, teams with established quarterbacks will use a high draft pick on a rookie quarterback, even if the established quarterback has several good playing years left. Their philosophy is simple: Let the rookie quarterback learn from the experienced quarterback and when it is the rookie’s turn to assume the starting job, he is more prepared and ready to lead his team to victory.
Organizations follow this same logic, by establishing mentor/mentee programs, when they determine it is time to groom new leaders one day capable of leading the business. Mentors discuss mentees ambitions, suggest activities to help get experience, or provide ways for the mentee to learn the ins-and-outs of the business in an accelerated fashion.
Most conversations about effective motivation with your sales force turn immediately to compensation. While fairly and effectively compensating your sales team is critical for success, it is only one of the “levers” that the sales leader can pull to drive increased team performance. Companies, sales forces, and sales leaders are all unique. Having a motivation strategy that fits your sales force and utilizes the right mix of motivational approaches will be more effective and can drive your sales organization to achieve greater results. At a recent Atlanta Chapter of the Sales Management Association meeting, a group discussion was held on the topic: “Motivating Your Sales Force: A motivated sales force creates momentum, momentum drives results. How can sales leaders motivate their sales force to create momentum?” Topic experts for the discussion included sales leaders from AT&T, Groupon, LexisNexis, Ricoh, Dell Secure Works, Aon Hewitt, Talent Quest, and Georgia State University. The following are key takeaways from what resulted in an expert discussion on sales leadership.
One of the most fascinating and rewarding parts of my job is sharing ideas and perspectives with top global sales leaders. These sales executives are responsible for delivering billions of dollars in revenue and millions of dollars in bottom line impact to their companies. They are some of the sharpest, most interesting people that you will ever meet. They wake up every day and with the challenge of staying 2 steps ahead of a competitive environment that is changing faster than ever before. So, this group has strong convictions about what it takes to succeed in today’s business environment.
One of my favorite questions to ask when I am with one of these leaders is: “What do you believe your organization needs to do differently in order to achieve your goals?” A topic that often arises is leadership. Frequently heard comments are: