Once upon a time when I was an individual contributor, I earned Sales Rep of the Year.
It was an incredible honor and one that I had been working towards and focusing on with every passing quarter.
As I stood on stage to accept my award, I didn’t think I could feel more proud professionally – that is until I was leading a sales team of my own and one of my reps achieved the same honor.
It was at that moment, that I realized why I love being a leader and that no amount of personal accolades would overshadow the feeling of pride to watch one of my reps achieve their dreams. This particular rep was the one that I had been on countless business trips with, spent hours strategizing with, role-playing with all in to achieve that one goal.
It was incredible to see all of her hard work recognized with such a distinguished honor.
Over the years, I have had the pleasure to work with very talented reps, the best of the best, who have enriched my life professionally and personally. Along the way, I have had my share of leadership wins and misses.
Below are 5 key lessons I learned:
1. Bet on Them
This is a phrase I often share with my team.
I want them to know that no matter what, I believe in them and know they have what it takes to win. We know sales reps can have some of the thinnest skin and it is important for them to know that you have their back. More importantly, I want the sales rep to bet on her or himself.
Do they have the confidence in their sales ability that they have created enough value to ask a prospect what else they need to see to move forward with our solution?
Are they the CEO’s of their business and know exactly the best opportunities they should be targeting at any given time?
Have they created a sense of urgency in making their solution a “must have” vs. a “nice to have”?
2. Never Ask Your Team to Do Something You Wouldn’t Do
I am a firm believer that respect is earned and the best way to get it is to be in the trenches at times with the team.
Whether it is role plays, cold calling, trainings or meetings, it is important for your team to see you doing this as well. It is also a good way for you to sharpen your skills and learn first-hand the obstacles your team is facing so you can help remove them.
3. Sales Vitamins
Leadership is a responsibility, and with that responsibility comes developing the skills of each rep on your team.
Your leadership should have an impact on improving their skill set. They should be become better because of you.
Team meetings are a great way to continue to develop your team. I have focused on making our team meetings highly interactive and ensuring that the team is measurably better when they leave the conference room.
Sales vitamins such as strategy sessions; ways to leverage industry topics; catchy email subject lines and success stories are all important ways you can motivate your team.
4. Inspect What You Expect
The only way to ensure that the team is executing on your plan is to inspect what you expect.
If you implement metrics or a process, you can’t “set it and forget it”. It is important to review the metrics, be transparent on where each person stands and review this individually and in group settings. Talk about it. Explain why this is going to help them reach their goal.
When you create buy-in and show the team that this matters to the business and you, it will get done.
5. Laugh Every Day
At the end of the day, right or wrong, you will spend more time with the people you work with than your friends and family, so you better laugh every day and have fun.
I think creating a culture of work hard, play hard is one of the main reasons I have had such fantastic teams over the years.
I learned this lesson early in my career when I had a job I dreaded to go to each Monday. The feeling of dread would start on Sunday nights when I would feel sick to my stomach.
I have always remembered that feeling and never want anyone on my team to feel that way. Creating a culture where people are valued, operate with integrity and get better each day drives the success of a team both inside and outside the office.