Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Grow your business through Sales Leadership Part 1

Sales Leadership is about leading 4 key areas:
Part 1: Targets Management, Part 2: Leading Sales teams to achieve Profit Margins, Flexible Multiple Goals and Part 3: The Jewel in your crown that is your Customer.

In identifying what Sales Leadership is at the beginning, some might believe that's it - the end; but they'd be mistaken. Knowing what to say is nowhere near the same as knowing how, when and why you're doing it.

Part 1
Targets Management
We all know there's a need to measure performance and targets is an easy method. The problem is when the measurement is exhausted with over targeted practices.
I'll use an analogy of a donkey, carrot & stick to illustrate. In my analogy the donkey represents the sales team and business. The carrot is the targets and rewards; whilst the stick is the general leadership and management style. The goal is to reach the desired destination.

If the donkey never achieves the carrot it wont be inspired by it and ignore it. It's the same at the other end of the analogy, if the donkey always gets the carrot it wouldn't take long before the donkey gets full and doesn't move or eat another any time soon.

Many businesses might think now to use the stick whilst the donkey's not inspired by the carrot or can't move due to gluttony. I'd describe this thinking as slave driving and it would be a mistake because a donkey needs leadership for results. Hitting the donkey with a stick and it is likely to behave with defiance or wild reaction and run off out of control maybe in the direction of your journey, but most likely not.
The point is the donkey doesn't always need the carrot, the skill in sales leadership is knowing at what stage in the journey it does, when it does not and how to get it moving when it's had enough. Therefore managing and administering targets sparingly, closely monitoring but appreciative that “performance added value” can be limited if over targeted.

A heavy focus on targets leads the business away from what it was intending.

Lose sales through 'results now' attitude.
The slave driver thinking has come about because many businesses have forgotten or replaced the skill of sales leadership with over focused targets. Just like the donkey the resulting behaviour is damaging, high staff turnovers with associated loses (such as reduced sales, knowledge deficite and reductions in client relationships) and low moral.

In addition we're in a world where everything is getting faster which has developed a “now attitude.” Most businesses have adopted and encouraged this attitude and behaviour with staff when setting and managing targets. Thus causing unnecessary stress, anxiety and fear of failure resulting in slowed or poor sales performance.

To describe how sales teams and performance are affected by the “now attitude” think of it like holding a carrot out infront of the donkey with one hand and beating the back of the donkey with the stick in the other. Now both hands are off the donkey how long and easy is it going to be to fall off the donkey? And how do you expect to keep the donkey going in the direction you want it too?

There is a time for 'results now' attitude as there is when driving a car and dropping down a gear to perform a passing manoeuvre. However running a car in first gear everywhere or second on a motor way would ruin the engine, just as continual now attitude damages the performance of the business as well as the sales team.
Knowing when to drop down a gear for performance, or when to use the carrot or the stick is in my view the first part of Sales Leadership for continual growth.

I'll have Part 2 available tomorrow but in the mean time I'd be very interested to hear your thoughts: was it thought provoking? is it what you expected? possibly I could help with a query, or a sales come sales teams issue you're facing or involved in?

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1 comment:

  1. Liked this blog-superb, illustrations are marvellously simple and practical to emphasise the points - looking forward to the 3rd part.
    National Account Manager FMCG