Managing from the Trenches
The US Army teaches not only to lead by example but to lead from the front. This literally means “leading the way” in a training or combat scenario. Doing this gives you firsthand insight on what is happening in the field and your troops respect you for getting down and dirty with them. Coaching a sales team is no different.
Running a team of salespeople requires dedication, out-of-the-box thinking, tough decision-making, inspirational / motivational skills, and resiliency. Think of yourself as a platoon sergeant. Your people need you to lead them; to give them direction. If you aren’t engaged how do you expect them to be? Many managers think that since they have been promoted “they have made it.” They often think “hey, I’ve done my time and now I can relax a little.” Nothing could be farther from the truth.
If a new product comes out, you need to be the first to understand it.
If your company introduces a new process, you need to be the first to embrace it.
In short, you need to carry the banner so that your team can align with you and behind you. This may seem obvious but it is very easy to let this approach slip and next your results are reflecting it. Assess yourself today, now if possible, and analyze whether or not you are doing what it takes for you team to succeed. If you’re honest, you will most likely find a couple of things you could be doing better. Better yet, ask a peer to be your accountability partner and have them evaluate your skills and abilities. Schedule a regular meeting to discuss each others strengths and weaknesses. This relationship allows you to keep up a constant level of checks and balances so that you can quickly and easily determine when you have a shortfall.
Getting others to do better than they would be if you were not involved is the definition of management. Apply that same thinking to yourself and strive to get better. You can even ask your manager to give you feedback on your coaching and management abilities. This should be happening on a regular one-on-one basis. If it isn’t, make sure it becomes routine. It’s the little things like this that make you better and more adept at your craft. Your salespeople will see that you are serious and will, in turn, take you seriously. Take the lead and accept all of the responsibilities associated with your position; you will be glad you did.