In sales we often are so driven by emotion that we don’t stop and really analyze what is going on in our business. We just bebop through our day doing the activities we think will drive our business forward. We end the day on a high. We have accomplished every thing on our task list. We made two DM presentations that we feel really good about. We even found time to make a bunch of new contacts that we are convinced will turn into new customers. It seems our business is about ready to explode. Well to borrow a phrase from ESPN commentator Lee Corso,
“Leadership is influence; nothing more, nothing less.” - Dr. John C. Maxwell.
I have heard dozens of people try to define leadership.Most of the time they were doing it in the context of what makes a great leader, great.Dr. Maxwell is paraphrasing the accent Chinese proverb, “If a leader doesn’t have anyone following him, he is simply taking a walk.”To lead, you must have people that are following!!!
The reality is that you and I have worked for good leaders and those that couldn’t lead a starving man to a steak.As you move through your career, the thing that separates those that thrive in their organization, versus those that languish, is they have learned how to lead.Sometimes they have the position and authority to lead. More often they have the moral right to lead based upon their contributions. Contributions to their customers…. Contributions to their company…. Contributions to their boss…. And most importantly….Contributions to their peers.
True Leaders Often Don’t Have The Title
Ask yourself this, have you ever been in a meeting where one of your colleagues drove the conversation even though they weren’t the “boss?”Of course you have.We have all been in that meeting.Why do you suppose that happens?I have an idea… You don’t have to be the “boss” (or named leader) to lead.
In fact, if you wait until you have the title, you will never be the leader.In my career I have had the privilege to promote over 200 people to leadership positions.Guess what I based EVERY SINGLE ONE of those decisions on? That person’s CURRENT influence.Sure, performance and work ethic had influence in the decision.But overwhelmingly I have looked to promote people that others were already following.Call me lazy, but I have always wanted to run with those that were already running.
Tim’s Six Leadership Tips
So how do you gain influence with you boss and your peers?I have six, sure-fire ways to gain influence and join the leadership ranks of your company.
Most people who begin a career in sales are a little pollyannaish over the trajectory of their career. When I began my VB career in 1998, I thought insurance salesman took clients golfing, out to lunch and then were done with their day at 3:00pm. Perhaps I’m exaggerating a little but I never expected to have to work as hard as I did. (My natural state is lazy. Not kidding.) I am incredibly glad that I chose to volunteer for success and do the hard work necessary to succeed in the great adventure of professional sales.
As I have watched literally thousands of new, straight commission salespeople begin their career,
After 20 years of recruiting, on-boarding and training sales people, it never ceases to amaze me when a new salesperson says this to me. The sad fact is that almost all of the new agents I have worked with, at some level, believed it (whether they expressed it out loud or not.)
How do I know? Their actions made it crystal clear. They failed to follow the sales system they had been given. They thought that they were smarter than the other poor rubes that they worked with. If someone else, who was following the system, was having success, they must be cheating, lying, stealing, or just plain lucky. “There is no way that person is smarter than me,” the agent who isn’t following the system thinks.
The reality is that they are probably right. And that will absolutely kill their chances for success. Over my career I have noticed that the “smarter” someone is, or thinks they are, the less likely they are to follow the system to the letter.
Put The Pressure On The System
In Joe Buzzello’s fantastic book The Cap Equation Joe recounts a story of his father (who was never in sales by the way) rather pointedly expressing to Joe that he had never actually done
I don’t know about you, but I am thrilled to see 2017 firmly in the rearview mirror. There have been a few years in my life where the journey was incredibly painful and brutally hard. 2017 was certainly one of those years. The good news is that throughout my life, years like last year have forced me to grow much more than my “good” years. I certainly don’t want to relive any of those ”growing” years, but I am thankful for the lessons they have taught me.
Change is Inevitable: Growth is Optional
The reality is that 2018 will not be any better for you or for me if we don’t take certain steps now before the year gets away from us. This article is not about business planning, goal setting or creating business strategies. I promise we will get to those things in the next couple of weeks. Today I want to talk about what you and I need to do to make sure our head is in the game for 2018. I believe that the biggest obstacle we face every day is the six inches between our ears.
Trust me, this article is for me as much as it is for you. As I look forward to this year here are the 5 things I must do to make 2018 my best year yet.
It’s supposed to suck! You are creating something out of nothing.” -Brian Hicks
Brian Is Right: And That’s OK
The first time I heard Brian Hicks say this I nearly snorted water out of my nose. (Important safety tip: When listening to Brian speak, time your drinking with care.) I laughed and then realized this was no laughing matter. It was literally a matter of life and death. Maybe not to your existence on this planet, but the life and death of your business.
Perhaps you came into a career in sales understanding exactly how hard it was going to be to get your business up and profitable. You may have been completely ready for the rejection and no’s you were going to receive. You may have fully understood that when the prospect said no, they were just saying no, not now. You may have had so much money in your back account that you weren’t worried that you were 90 days in and still hadn’t made a sale. But after 20+ years of hiring and training commission-only sales people, I have yet to meet someone like that. They may exist, just like Sasquatch and unicorns.
Have you ever been kicked in the cajones? Either literally or figuratively, we have all been kicked in that most sensitive place from time-to-time. …
In late October of 2014 I received a call from my supervisor, at 6:30 a.m. while I was working out….. (By the way, getting a call from your boss before 7:00 am is NEVER good news…) He started by saying, “Guess what we need to talk about?” When I told him I had no idea, he said, “Upper management is very concerned about your blog and podcast.” His main purpose was to let me know that we had to attend a conference call that afternoon with HR. (Again, not great news… I have yet to be invited to a conference call with HR where good news was shared…)
When the appointed time came, the very nice HR specialist and my boss told me, in no uncertain terms, that the company was not happy with me and my blog/podcast. They felt that I was teaching competitors how to sell Voluntary Benefits. (Technically true as I don’t ask or care what company my subscribers work for. Success Is Voluntary is “carrier agnostic.”) They also told me that they hated the fact that SIV was “carrier agnostic.” They felt that as a corporate employee of their company that I should not acknowledge the competition or the things they did right. They pointed out the fact that I had featured a picture of a sales team from their main competitor listening to the Success Is Voluntary Podcast as part of their Monday Morning Meeting (Brandon Smith ROCKS!!!)
Later that day I received a “Final Notice” stating that continuing the blog/podcast would result in termination.
Have you ever taken a red-eye flight across the country to say goodbye to a friend who is dying?That’s exactly what I did five days ago on Easter Sunday.Bill Ball, my 44 year-old best friend, was in ICU at the Cleveland Clinic and his body was betraying him after battling leukemia and being hospitalized for the last four months.He was in full-blown organ failure.Other than his heart, kidneys, liver, and bone marrow, the rest of his body was doing great.But apparently those organs are somewhat important, at least according to the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic. Who knew?
Before we go any further, I want you to know that Bill has rallied big-time in the last 72 hours!He is out of ICU and all of his organ are responding, including his kidneys. (I haven’t been that excited to see someone peeing since my kids were potty training.) He still has a long row to hoe, but his doctors are now very encouraged (and encouraging) that he will be back on track by the end of next week. If things go as planned, he will have a bone marrow transplant then and be on the road to recovery.
So what does this story have to do with success and sales?EVERYTHING!!!
In Allen Iverson’s infamous 2002 rant, he said “We’re talking about practice…” 17 times in just 1 minute and 39 seconds. If you haven’t seen the video, it is embedded below. (Just click the picture of Allen to watch.) Allen attempted to minimize the fact that he had missed a practice by saying that he always answered the bell when the game was being played. Allen claimed that he understood that he was supposed to be a role model for his team mates and lead by example. But he also intimated that HE didn’t need to practice anymore…. That he had arrived. Allen was dead wrong, and so are you if you think you can skip “practice” and just turn it on during the game.
Malcolm Gladwell suggested in his book Outliers that to get world-class at something it takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice/performance. I’m sure Allen has his 10,000 hours in, but to stay world-class you must continue to work on building your skills. As anyone who has been stupid enough to take up the game of golf will tell you, you can’t work on your swing/game while PLAYING golf. You must pay the price on the practice range.