“You must first be the change you wish to see in the world” -Gandhi
There have been many good leaders in the world, but few I regard as great, however at least a few come to mind: MLK, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Mandela, Churchill. Each took up a cause of action that was greater than themselves. They put the cause first, they did not bow down to their critics, they inspired followers to take up the cause, and they had the vision to see what they wanted to accomplish in all its glory and started on a plan to get there. Their real skill was in inspiring and mobilizing their followers and in their ability to influence those that didn’t really think like they did. Here are a few other things that seem to work:
- Focus: say no to everything that isn’t a “Hell Yeah!” and focus on Force Multipliers
- Your process for information flow is critical: who or what is keeping you from getting the crucial info you need…especially the negative news. Remove those filters
- Proper delegation… two key elements:
- Focus on results, not methods
- Push down decision making to the lowest common denominator
- Properly balance management and freedom: give the freedom to achieve, but keep a watchful eye
- Perseverance: there will be delays, setbacks, even failures
- Set expectations that inspire others to achieve: tell them you have faith they will do great things…they will do all they can not to let you down
- Accept failures and mistakes as long as they are learned from… public praise, private criticism
- Dig down deep into your organization looking for pods of talent… protect and cultivate these people
- Humility: listen and accept criticism. A bunch of “Yes” men/women is a recipe for disaster
- Be willing to be on the front lines with your team (not just to show you are part of the team, but so you also know what is really going on without filters)
There are a million thoughts on what makes a great leader, but these work for me.
“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be” -Goethe
All salespeople aren’t created equal! Starting with that premise, realize that different people have different strengths…play to those strengths.
In the sales arena, there are a multitude of needs, so try to match the right person to your actual need: Do you need a rainmaker, do you need a hunter, do you need a farmer, do you need someone more technical, more social, etc. Let’s take a quick look at some of these:
- Hunter: this is a salesperson particularly good at finding and bringing in new prospects. They may not be as good at keeping them, so do what you can to help them bring the customers in, hand them off properly, and allow them to move on to the next ones.
- Farmer: this is a salesperson that does a great job of cultivating those customers once they are on board. They are great at long term relationships and at getting more out of those existing customers. They also are usually spending so much time cultivating that they don’t have time to spend on looking for new customers…once again a reason for splitting hunters and farmers.
- Rainmaker: this is a salesperson that can generate lots of sales, seemingly out of thin air, for you in a relatively quick timeframe. They are usually very expensive. Make sure they can really do what they say before you bring them on and secondly make sure you can handle the additional business if they are successful. While hunters are great at chasing lots of new potential customers, a rainmaker is looking to land one or two whoppers.
You need to figure out what your needs are and then you need to put the right people in the right roles. You also need to figure out how you are going to fill these roles…hiring from outside (even from your competitors) or growing them up through your organization. Sometimes you need a little of both, but a healthy bench is extremely important…always know where you are going to pull from next.
For new lead follow up, you may even assign a person or team to doing nothing but this and then have them hand off once the customer is on-boarded. Remember: you have to respond to new leads asap (know this: 70% of the time people choose the real estate agent who called them back first!)…you really need a plan here.
One last piece of advice…just because you have a great salesperson with great ambition that doesn’t mean that he needs to become your sales manager. Many really good sales people are terrible managers and vice versa. Think about it this way: if you had a star football running back would you make him a coach or hire more blockers instead?
Happy Hunting, Farming, and Rainmaking!