Category Archives: Sales Leadership

Show and Tell?

The best sales managers and trainers do more showing than telling

The best sales managers and trainers do more showing than telling


Front of the line, who’s coming with me?

You have heard it before “hey buddy the line starts in the rear”. Through the first half of my 53 years on earth IFront of Line have to say I pretty much complied with that request, however something clicked one day and I thought not so fast should I conform to that line of thinking.

I get that if I’m at the movie theater, the department of motor vehicles, or waiting at the Doctors office I’m behind those in front of me and I patiently wait my turn.

On the other hand at work if I’m the last hired in my department or into my position I should not expect those ahead of me get promoted first.

At school if you just enrolled in classes you should not expect those a semester or two ahead of you taking the minimum full time class load or changing their majors to graduate ahead of you.

When you graduate and interview for that first “real job” your attitude should be the most recent person interviewed (You) should be hired ahead of those that interviewed ahead of you.

Elite athletes that trained longer don’t finish for very long ahead of elite athletes that trained harder.

In sales the leaderboard (rankings) rarely coincides with tenure.

The more I thought about it I came to the conclusion that the line that starts in the rear are for those that are comfortable in the back, but not for a front runner like me. I’m not looking for the easy path but I will take full advantage of a smarter shorter path. At my age I don’t have time to start at the back of the line when it comes to professional pursuits.

The warp speed version of my personal situation is in 2008-09 I got laid off from a great job at a great company in the not so great Economic down turn that hit the mortgage banking industry hard. Like others similarly effected I got some bumps and bruises before I landed back on my feet. The next path I chose was part-time healthcare recruiting while I pursued to further my education. I closed 3 out of 4 positions the first time I got at a real recruiting “at bat” with a client. I changed schools for a more accelerated degree program and graduated ahead of schedule. My most recent path finds me in the marketing automation technology space selling and consulting my friends back in mortgage banking. Not bad for someone that could have took it easy in the rear of the technology line.

Regardless of your age next time you are pursuing something worthwhile come join me at the front of the line.

Networking – it just sounds less complicated than…

Integrated Alliance

Integrated Alliance

Are you cooperative or are you collaborative?

You can drive and/or create collaboration by elevating an experience through your own leadership or you can wait for Collaborationcollaboration to come to you. You will find that top performers don’t wait.

Being cooperative often means you are polite and that you share the burden with others of finding a solution.
In being collaborative you often will respectively invite disagreement as well challenge others views and opinion(s)
The difference is cooperators will stop cooperating once they have the solution they want, however collaborators won’t stop collaborating until the problem goes away.

The small distinction between cooperative and collaborative can be seem small but in reality it’s extremely large.

Lead by Example, take some Risk!

I have been fortunate in my sales career to have had some really great managers, leaders, and mentors. The more I’ve been Fish Risk imageinfluenced the firmer believer I have become in the “practice what you preach” theory. Since we often ask our sales people to step out of their comfort zones and confront their fears, we must do the same. As sales leaders we can’t lean so heavy on our past experience no matter what level of success that reflects. In other words – we still need to take some risks, because the day we no longer take any risk why should they?

Hard Knocks

As a sales leader do you ever feel that your sales team looks to you for all the answers? You may very well have most all the answersSchool of Hard Knocks but no one on your sales team will fully develop if you never allow them to seek and figure out a few on their own.

A former account executive I managed biggest issue was that anytime he ran into a problem or he didn’t have a solution he was quick to come to me every time for the answer.  I was glad to help, after all wasn’t that my job? Or was it…every time?

Why was it I had almost all the answers and my account executive had so few. While I had more experience he still had plenty. We both had solid educations and I’m confident it wasn’t a case of me having superior intelligence…so what was it and how could I help him get more of it?

I came to the simple conclusion that he simply wasn’t a risk taker. He would never risk being wrong. I know I’m not right all the time but being right most of the time works. My correct answers were not derived from possessing some vast knowledge bank. My answers came from making more good decisions than bad ones…but when I did get it wrong I become a “Straight A” student at the School of Hard Knocks.

We all want to see our sales people at the top but you can’t put them there you can only help them get there. Just remember though it often serve everyone well when you share and provide expertise to those that you’re in position to help…once in a while it’s OK to let them to figure it out on their own…because the bell is always ringing down at the School of Hard Knocks.

The motivation to get back on the roller coaster

When you get on a good roll in sales it’s a ride unlike anything else you’ll experience in business. In basketball shooters describe a Roller Coaster skiimageshigh percentage night as the basket just looked larger. Other great performances are often described by the feeling of having been in a zone. I’m confident it’s close to the feeling surfers get when they catch the perfect wave.

Unfortunately however it never last forever. Eventually the ball rims out, the zone disappears, and all waves crash.

In sales with the end of a good ride comes a certain amount of rejection (those ugly words NO THANK YOU), transactions that didn’t close, prospects that disappeared, and a diminished pipeline that equates to a smaller paycheck in the very near future.

No doubt about it sales is a roller coaster ride, but when that coaster comes to a stop the successful sales people get right back in line to ride it again.

What’s their motivation? Is it just the thrill and money or is it more?  I’m confident it’s more as once we’ve been selling long enough there are other motivations that keep us engaged and in pursuit of the next YES or that next good ride.

For the most part I have found top sales people to be well educated, highly experienced, and extremely motivated.

You can’t take away a person’s education or experience, but things can erode a person’s motivation. Most sales people will stay motivated if they have the belief they can be successful, recognized and rewarded. In addition it helps when they have a strong understanding of what they are selling, who their customer is, and what value their product or service delivers.

If all this is in place why is sales still such a roller coaster?

Because there’s customers, competitors, and internal as well as external complexities that contribute to the ups in downs in sales. As a manager you can motivate your sales team the most by providing a supportive and encouraging environment on a daily basis. It’s the sales manager that can best reinforce their confidence when they most need it.

My next few post will expand on ways sales managers can best help their teams stay motivated through the challenges they will inevitably face.

I originally wrote this post coincidentally on Friday evening about the same time news broke that a person lost their life in a tragic fall from a roller coaster at Six Flags – Texas. I am sensitive to that event and chose not to publish this post until several days had passed. 

Got Sales Talent?

Talent…you better have some of it in something if you want to be extremely successful.  After watching game 7 of the NBA finals I’vetalent concluded that Lebron guy has a little talent on the court.  In perspective anyone drawing a paycheck in the NBA has some talent, but still it’s obvious some get more out of theirs than others.

I was once a gym rat playing hours upon hours of BBall, but what little talent I had on the court couldn’t take me beyond my 20’s and church league.  Most people figure out when they simply don’t have enough talent in one area they move onto something else. This seems to hold true across most professions with the exception of SALES.

Look at how many choose medical school and never become doctors or nurses. How many people pack up their guitar and travel to Nashville (home town shout out) to become a singer and/or songwriter that never make it. The person that’s short of talent in math probably won’t be an organizations next CFO. We are all limited to a certain degree by the talents we have and some things we just aren’t build for.

On the positive side it’s often our limitations that motivate us to improve.  Through experience, training, determination, and practice most of us can acquire and possess enough talent to stay in sales.  But those with just enough talent to stay in the game are who you want selling for your competitors. If you strive for and your company demands success you must be that next level up sales person.

Over time sales stats don’t lie. Ask yourself are your sales results consistently improving? Are you closing more than most of your peers? Does the competition know who you are? If you can’t answer these self-imposed questions with a resounding YES you might lack the talent required. Lacking present talent doesn’t mean you need to change professions. Passion and work ethic can carry you a long ways but its talent that will put you over the top.

I hope you’ll think about the talents you possess.  Just like in the NBA, I’m sure in your profession there are not to many Lebrons, however there’s a certain amount of talent you must have to compete. I hope these thoughts help you push yourself to be the best you can be in sales.

SYZYGY in the Workplace

Regardless of if you are the CEO, SVP, or the entry level clerk the reality is that holding a position to get work done eventually will become past tense. Syzygy in the workplace will allow those relationships we make with others at work to endure beyond any titles we hold or work that we do. It should comfort us that the work we share will likely continue in our friendships, memories, and in even more work after the door has closed behind us.

Continuing to share excerpts and ideas derived from SYZYGY Living a Powerfully Aligned Life, Johnnie C. Goodwin. When we have syzygy at work it seldom matters who is the boss and who is the employee, who is president and who is the low person on the totem pole. People with syzygy respect individuals and find an even greater joy and purpose in working together. There is something about the powerful presence of having another person along side us in the same pursuit.  Success in the workplace is measured and rewarded in many different ways, but we reflect on the other person or the team when it’s time to give credit where credit is due.

The benefits of matching up two people or creating at team to supplement or complete us can often produce cohesive results that exceed the possibilities of what we could have done alone. This planned syzygy can start a powerful chain reaction of knowledge, skill, and usefulness in the workplace.

I am presently working in a unique environment that brings together contractors within the same industry. When they are more united by shared mission, ethics, and vision than they are separated by the competition between them, each mutually prospers from growth in their industry.

Rather at the employee, leadership, or personal level people search most their lives for what is missing because they sense their need for a connection, a syzygy, that missing link to make their lives and actions complete. Syzygy in the workplace is a worthwhile pursuit only trumped by finding syzygy in all aspects of your life.

SYZYGY a word to align yourself with

SYZYGY Sizz-uh-Gee                                                          

Sixty days ago a new friend of mine gave me a book he wrote, SYZYGY Living a Powerfully Aligned Life, Johnnie C. Goodwin. I found this book and word to be a blessing to me and I feel motivated to share syzygy with you.

Syzygy is an alignment that produces extra power. In astronomy, syzygy is when the earth, moon, and sun are in alignment.  This happens twice a month at new moon and at full moon. This is when gravity exerts exceptional power.

On December 26, 2004 you may remember an 8.9 magnitude quake occurred that produced tsunamis that resulted in the death of over 300,000 people. What you might not have known is at that time Jupiter, Venus, Earth, Moon, and Sun all came in line and syzygy was a factor.  If alignment can have such effects on the physical world just think of how much impact it can have when applied to business.

We are more familiar with the word synergy and have witnessed its emergence as a common buzz word in the business environment.  It’s a word that is found in mission statements, company names, business solutions, partnerships, and visions.

Synergy means working together while syzygy literally means paired together.

The origin of syzygy is from the Greek words sun “with” and zugos “yoke” so combined is yoked together, paired, aligned, united, or bound. 

I’m asking you to think beyond synergy and seek syzygy in both your internal and external relationships.  There are already a number of consulting companies that use syzygy to refer to their talents in aligning and matching business requirements to technology solutions. Now businesses are using syzygy to identify alignment, convergence, linkage, symmetry, and the harnessing of energy and power.

In applying syzygy to sales look at the alignment between salesperson, sales manager, and executive leaders.  Examine how well your actions are aligned with the mission statement and values of your company. Look at how well aligned your product and service are with the needs of your customers. 

I have highlighted SYZYGY in this post above the more familiar synergy but the best results come when we can combine both: aligned relationships and working together.

In my next post I’ll take you a step further into “Syzygy in the Workplace”.