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They Will Be What You Are (A Note to the Sales Leader)

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
October 24, 2010

You sales force is an extension of your will. Whatever you are a sales leader, so will become your sales force.

Am I Worth Following?

Being a leader isn’t the result of having authority given to you by your company or by your place on an organizational chart. Quite the contrary, there are many with formal authority that are not leaders, and as many who are leaders with no formal authority.

Leading is the role of the servant. You must love and care for your people, and you must do all that is possible to ensure their success. If you want your salespeople—and all of your employees—to care deeply about your client’s success, then you must care deeply about theirs.

You must be the embodiment of all that you want your salespeople to be.

Beliefs: What Do You Believe?

What is it that you believe about sales? Do your beliefs enable your salespeople to sell with confidence? Do your beliefs give rise to a competitive spirit, an esprit de corps that allows you do what is necessary to win and to succeed?

Your beliefs must strong enough to crowd out the unhealthy beliefs systems that make some sales forces less effective than they might otherwise be. Your beliefs must be known well enough by all that they can act in accordance with them, with your will, even when you are absent or unable to offer guidance.

Your actions must be congruent with your belief systems if you would have your salespeople act in accordance with them. If you want them to be professional, disciplined sales force that you need them to be, then you have to a professional, disciplined sales leader who brings life to the beliefs she espouses.

Meaning: What Does It Mean to be Us?

Your beliefs lead to actions, and actions to results.

Your beliefs and the actions that they require of your sales force isn’t enough. It is the sales leader’s job to provide meaning.

You have to decide what it means to be a part of your sales organization. You have to decide what meaning you give to the way in which your sales force will sell, how you compete with other sales forces in a crowded marketplace.

You could decide that what it means to sell for you and for your sales organization is a level of professionalism and value-creation that is worlds beyond what your dream clients might expect. Or it might also mean that you simply do what is expected of you, making it hard to differentiate you from a lot of other offerings that look and sound the same—but at least you are “as good” and you can say “us too!”

You could decide that selling for you and for your organization might mean that your salespeople are trained and versed in a consultative approach that allows them to create value for your dream clients and capture part of the value that they create. Or it could mean that they aren’t trained as well as they might be, they don’t believe anything that gives them the courage to create and capture value, and that it means discounting your way to mediocrity.

You could provide the meaning that says you are a scrappy little outfit of resourceful and creative business people who can compete and win even when they should be completely outgunned, because you are armed with a meaning that is worthy of your mission.

This is all too heavy, I know. But consider this: you are already giving your work meaning. Perhaps nothing as healthy as some of the meanings I have listed above, and perhaps none as detrimental. There is nothing inspiring about simply doing your job.

If what you do doesn’t mean something, if it doesn’t stand for something big, then what your salespeople do will mean the same. If it’s just a job to you, it’s just a job to them.

They will be as salespeople whatever you are as a sales leader.


    1. Who do you have to be to be someone worth following? (knowing that “reporting to” and “following” are very different states that often lead to results that are worlds apart)

    1. What are your core beliefs about sales? What are the actions that naturally evolve from your core beliefs about sales?

    1. Do you act in accordance with those beliefs, serving as a living, breathing example of the beliefs and the actions they require?

    1. What does it mean to be part of your sales force? Who does it mean to be who you are? Who does it mean you are not?

  1. Does your meaning provide a mission that inspires your sales force? Is it enough to simply expect them to do their job? How would your results be improved if what the meaning you provided was passionately embraced by your sales force? Have you passionately embraced the meaning yourself, and in a very visible way?

For more on increasing your sales effectiveness, subscribe to the RSS Feed for The Sales Blog and my Email Newsletter. Follow me on Twitter, connect to me on LinkedIn, or friend me on Facebook. If I can help you or your sales organization, check out my coaching and consulting firm, B2B Sales Coach & Consultancy, email me, or call me at (614) 212-4729.

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Post by Anthony Iannarino on October 24, 2010

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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