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5 Ways to Take Command

It seems like every workshop, webinar or new book that deals with our challenging economic times, in my analysis the most critical element to understand in effective sales management is the term "leading." This past weekend was Memorial Day in the U.S. and a few of the TV channels played many of the famous war movies, celebrating our heroes and remembering those who served. I came away with one major theme: From generals to privates, in individual situations certain people stood up and assumed a leadership position, making the hard decisions, giving everyone a sense of direction and purpose.

In many business situations, we see executives and sales management/ leaders everywhere standing frozen or scared and not taking action to "direct the troops." While every sales leader should be scared or concerned, taking action is important. The fundamental rules for sales leadership in uncertain times are:

  1. Understand human motivation. Now, more than any other time, you must seek to know each person in your command and work to provide them with the proper motivation in order for them to perform at their maximum level. This is the essence of sales force management.
  2. Have a plan. With a plan or vision for action and clearly communicating it, people will follow you. This plan should include an 18-month plan with 90 days of actions focused on sales, marketing and office efficiencies. One of the five styles of sales leadership is a "selling style"; use this power wisely.
  3. Move closer to your clients and vendors. Schedule meetings with your "A" clients, make a plan to meet one a week! Schedule regular vendor reviews looking for new ideas and enhancing your relationship. Strategic sales management knows that customers and vendors always provide fresh ideas.
  4. Move closer to your employees. Depending upon the size of your firm, monthly company meetings are a must. Hold departmental roundtables or a Friday lunch -- do what it takes to listen to them and take the opportunity to share your plan.
  5. Improve, innovate, stabilize process. Now is a great time to focus on improving everything about your team, your sales process, and packaging -- seek to do things differently and change the game on your competition. The definition for sales leadership is acting as a "catalyst for change and continuous improvement."

People need to believe in you and your services/products; take advantage of this opportunity to be a leader.

Posted by Ken Thoreson on May 26, 2009