There are all kinds of beliefs a sales management or sales leader might hold, some healthy, many more unhealthy. If you want to turn in your best performance, those results will start with your beliefs, your mindset. Here is a good set of beliefs to consider.
Everything Is My Fault
You cannot be an effective leader without first accepting that everything is your fault. You are the leader, and that makes you responsible for the people in your charge. It also makes you responsible for the people one level above you on the organizational chart.
If your team’s performance isn’t what it should be, you are the one with the authority and responsibility to remedy it. If an individual is negative and infecting others with harmful beliefs, they are only wreaking havoc because you haven’t done anything about it. If you don’t protect your team from negativity, the infection will eventually take hold.
If people on your team lack the mindset, skill sets, or tool kits, those things are your responsibility. If they need to improve, you need to improve them (and if you don’t like this group you refuse to develop, I promise you won’t like the next group any better. There is nowhere to hide from your duty as the leader.)
You are also responsible for the people to whom you report. If they don’t understand the situation on the ground in your market, you haven’t done an effective job informing them in a way that compels them to act. If your team is missing the things they need, you are the one who has to acquire these things for them. That means persuading the people to whom you report to give you what you need. You are responsible for informing your leadership with what they need to know so that they can help you lead your team effectively.
The price of being an effective leader is responsibility. You cannot blame anyone or anything else.
I Set and Keep the Standards
Over the last few years, more companies find themselves “opportunity-starved.” They don’t have enough opportunities because their salespeople don’t prospect (or don’t prospect enough, or don’t prospect effectively). Too many of these “non-prospecting,” “alleged” salespeople have spent too much time reading posts on LinkedIn. As a leader, you are responsible for setting and keeping the standards by which your team operates.
If the standard is that everyone prepares for sales meetings, believing the gift of time is too important to waste, you will have better meetings with your dream clients and improve how you are perceived. If you leave success to chance, you effectively have no standard. When you allow people to decide for themselves how they will approach both creating and capturing opportunities, the lack of a standard allows people to do less than what is necessary to win.
If you think back to the best leader you have ever worked for, one of the first things you will find true is that they required you to raise your standards. They believed you were capable of more than you believed at the time. They didn’t accept mediocrity. They wanted you to be your best and turn in your best performance.
If there is going to be a standard, you have to establish and maintain it. If you don’t decide what the standard is, it will be lower than you need it to be by default.
We Are All Accountable to Our Mission
Your goal or quota does not belong to your company or your leadership. It belongs to you. As the leader, you were given responsibility and resources with which to produce some result. You are accountable for the mission you have accepted. For you to succeed, everyone on your team has to also be responsible for and to the mission.
You have to talk about your goals. You have to share why they are important to you, your team, your clients, and your company. You also have to hold people accountable for the outcomes they need to produce to reach those goals. When one person isn’t accountable, very soon, more will follow.
The mission cannot belong to you alone. The mission has to be the mission of everyone on your team. You cannot succeed without your team also succeeding.
I Must Grow and Develop My Team
There are sales managers who believe the people that work for them are their employees, something that is technically true, but not the healthiest view of the people in your charge. Instead, you have to believe that they are your team, and you are their leader. The lens through which you view your relationship with your team has an enormous impact on your results.
If your people are merely your employees, you have a transactional view of leadership. If they are your team, they are going to be what you build them to be. If you want them to improve their results, you need to first help them improve themselves. If you want them to grow, you have to provide them with the opportunities to do so. You have to provide them with coaching, training, and development. You also have to provide them with your personal attention.
Your team is going to play the game as well as you teach and coach them to play it. If everything is your fault, then you are empowered to do what is necessary to make things better. You cannot and need not wait for anyone’s permission to grow and develop your team for you.
If your people cannot say that they grew under your leadership, then you will have failed them as a leader.
I Set the Tempo
There is an old saying that “the speed of the team is the speed of the leader.” You have to set the tempo for your team. Perhaps an example here will help.
Maybe you have decided that you need to look at the new opportunities created once a month, not wanting to hold people accountable for creating new opportunities each week. The tempo now suggests new opportunities must be created each month (and maybe based on your long sales cycles and super small market, that might be appropriate, but I am doubtful).
Another leader has decided the tempo requires creating new opportunities each week. Their view is that they need to pull opportunities forward in time, and an opportunity acquired this week is better than opportunity acquired seven weeks from now. All things being equal, the leader with the more aggressive operating tempo is going to produce better results than the one who leaves the outcome to chance.
Too many leaders offer suggestions, which is to say, they want their people to do something, but are unwilling to hold them accountable. None of this requires you micromanage your team. It does, however, require you to lead and to set standards of performance.
What You Believe
You know that the mindset of the individual on your team matters. The same is true for what you believe about your role as a manager, a leader, and a coach.