In today’s #SalesInsights post I want to offer you the secret to improving sales leadership, with quick tips to help sales leaders improve efficiency and effectiveness for both yourself and your team.
Getting to the end of another day and realising you’ve not done any of the things you had planned is a common problem for sales leaders, with time at a premium and so many people needing your attention. When you are responsible for more than just your own performance and development, there are an even greater number of ways in which you can get distracted.
Tip #1 – Stop trying to help those who won’t/can’t be helped
Try this (and be honest!): in your head, put all of the members of your team into the following three categories:
- Already There – The high performers who are consistently outstanding, reaching their potential.
- Could Get There – The average performers who work hard and are capable of reaching outstanding performance levels.
- Never Get There – The poor performers who are unable or unwilling to improve their performance be it due to their commitment to the role or their competency levels.
Typically, leaders place the majority of their team (around 60%) into the second category; average performers. Yet from my experience, most time and attention is focused on those in the under-performing third group, but working with a very small number of people with low potential, who won’t necessarily make any improvements will never deliver the kind of improvement you’re looking for.
So let’s consider another approach – imagine how your team would perform if you spent that same amount of time with those in the second group. By taking the majority of your team from good to outstanding, you could greatly improve the team’s overall effectiveness while freeing up the wasted time you currently spend on those who either cannot, or will not, change.
Tip #2 – Don’t neglect your own development
A consistent challenge for all sales leaders is finding the time to work on your own development. For some leaders it may even feel too self-indulgent to spend a day focusing on their own growth when they have a team that they’re responsible for and who also require development and training. However, not only is personal development the key to your career success, but by taking time out to work on those things on which you could improve, you are enhancing your ability to help develop your people, becoming a role model for a continuous learning culture in the process.
An example of this is coaching. A leader who is also a proficient coach will be able to give feedback and deal with conflict resolutions in a more timely and productive fashion and is more likely to gain a positive outcome. But, because learning how to coach takes the leader away from their everyday roles and responsibilities, it gets added to the ever increasing ‘wish list’: “…when I get the time”. Make the time and you and your team will reap the rewards.
Tip #3 – Make meetings work for you
A common gripe amongst sales leaders is the amount of “wasted” time they have to spend in meetings.
There are two issues here; the first is mindset. Meetings are not a waste of time (at least not if they’re run properly). They provide the forum in which all relevant parties are able to come together to explore new ideas, share information, debate and make important decisions affecting the future of the team and organisation. Without meetings, how would such decisions ever be reached?
The second issue is the way in which meetings are run. It is poorly run meetings that lead us to have such a negative mindset about them. For meetings to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of any team they must be run by somebody who takes accountability, they must be clear and stick to the purpose, choose the time and location carefully, engage the audience and must not allow the precious time available to be ‘hijacked’ with unnecessary discussions that don’t effect the team.
Tip #4 – Learn to say “no”
How many times have you said yes to something in business, when your instincts are actually telling you to say no? Leaders can easily find themselves embroiled in things they shouldn’t be getting involved in, so if you want to improve efficiency it’s time to start saying “no.”
For example if your team are asking you for help, ask yourself why; have they not had the training they need? Do they lack confidence? Do they not feel empowered? Whatever the reason, as the leader it is your responsibility to ensure your team have everything they require to do their jobs; providing effective training and coaching from the outset should pay dividends down the line.
If the requests for help are coming from peers or from higher up, it can be even more difficult to say no. But from examining entrepreneurs and successful senior business people over the years, you’ll find their secret is to be considered and strategic in every decision they make; nobody climbs the ladder of success by saying ‘yes’ every time they are asked something, as this simply leads to having no time to get anything done.
Consider each request and give the answer you know to be right for both yourself and your team – and understand that as a leader, you may well need to develop a thicker skin!
If you’d like any more tips on how to improve your efficiency and effectiveness as a sales leader, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.