Yesterday’s post was a list of the most important resolutions salespeople should make in the coming year. Today’s post, as you have already discerned, is about the resolutions you should make as a sales leader (and if you are a sales manager, you are by definition, a sales leader). Much of what you find here are axioms, inviting no counter-arguments or any real disagreement, but they are so rarely followed that it’s worth working on them in the coming year. Here are six gigantic resolutions a sales manager must make to reach their goals and lead with purpose
- Resolve to be more engaged with your team. If you want your next year to exceed your last, then there is no better way to accomplish that goal than improving your engagement with your team. To do that, you have to shut the laptop lid, avert your eyes from your CRM’s dashboard. Instead, you must give the individuals on your team your full and undivided attention. You are going to have to get to know each member of your team individually, and you will have to spend time listening to them more and talking less. The primary benefit of this engagement is not to reinforce what you want from them, but rather, it’s an opportunity for you to learn what you need to know.
- Resolve to spend more time with your clients and prospects. Sticking with the outcome of learning what you need to know to do better in the coming year, after your team, your next priority is your clients and prospects. If you want to know where your clients are struggling and where they need your help, you cannot do better than sitting down with them and listening to them. The same is true of your team’s prospective clients. If you want to understand the challenges of selling to your prospects, join your team on major calls and pay attention to the questions your prospects ask and the concerns they share. Not only will this help you help your clients, but it will also help you know how to improve your team.
- Resolve to provide more coaching. It’s my nature to be directive, and it is likely yours too. When you believe you know the right answer, it is faster and easier to tell the person who needs your help precisely what they should do—or need to do. In doing so, you deprive the person of the opportunity to exercise their initiative and their resourcefulness, solving their problem with you as a sounding board. In the worst case, you may be imposing a form of learned helplessness on some of the individuals on your team by requiring them to come to you for answers. Instead, resolve to coach them. Ask them questions that require them to be resourceful and exercise their initiative.
- Resolve to protect your team from distractions. If there is only one resolution that might help you immediately increase your revenue, that resolution would be to strip away anything your salespeople do that is not directly related to creating or winning new opportunities. Selling more is most easily accomplished by ensuring your people sell more, which is to say, they spend more time selling. Your role in ensuring your team has time to sell is to protect them from distractions, including the ones you impose on them. Resolve to prevent them from stepping into account management roles, customer service roles, or joining internal task forces. The best and most important contribution your sales team needs to make is the creation of new opportunities.
- Resolve to create a culture worth building and defending. There are a couple of important ideas here worth pursuing in the coming year. The first would be to create a hunter culture, a sales culture where everyone knows, believes, and acts to create new opportunities. Too few sales organizations have a hunter culture, most resembling what might be called a farmer culture. What underlies the hunter culture is accountability. If there is one single root cause of poor sales results, it starts with a lack of accountability. If there is one reason the responsibility doesn’t exist, you have to go back to the first resolution here, the lack of engagement with the individuals that make up your team. Resolve to build a culture that is worth building—and worth defending.
- Resolve to provide more development opportunities. You inhabit a world being eaten by technology and algorithms. Technology has changed the very nature of our everyday lives. Technology is overrunning sales with solutions, many of them outstanding, and more being solutions in search of a problem. Unfortunately, the most significant factor as to whether you win or lose deals is the salesperson, an issue you can’t solve with technology. Selling has changed more over the last, say, fifteen years than the preceding fifty. If your salespeople do not have a modern, value-creating approach to sales, you are allowing them to be irrelevant to your clients and prospects. Resolve to provide them with the development opportunities necessary, and field a team of value-creating, consultative, trusted advisor-type salespeople.
If you want your team to be better in the new year, entering into the new decade with new beliefs, new behaviors, and new and better results. As the leader, you go first. Resolve first to lead by example, continue to grow as a leader, and help everyone on your team turn in their best-ever performance in the new year.