Is Your Boss Your Biggest Cheerleader?
What makes salespeople and sales teams more successful? I've been asked this question a lot during the past few months. In reflecting on this, I've realized that one of the key features of teams with highly successful salespeople is strong leadership. It's the sales bosses who are in a position to really make a difference in sales culture. It's the bosses who can build culture, change behavior, and rally the sales troops to victory.
In my work as a coach and trainer for sales teams, I notice that some salespeople are more engaged and willing to put their training into action than others. They make extra prospecting calls and have better consultative conversations with their customers. These high-achieving salespeople almost always have strong sales leaders—someone who "carries the flag" for the team.
Sales is tougher than it's ever been before. The economy has changed, buyers have changed—and to survive and thrive, salespeople have to change, too. Sales teams need leaders who can lead them through change and continually rally, coach, and mentor the group into a winning team.
When I look back at my sales years, I can see that my boss, Robert, was my greatest cheerleader (though also my greatest critic at times!). I learned so much from him and loved having him accompany me in client meetings. It was from him that I learned the importance of asking more questions rather than just talking. I also learned to take copious notes to capture what the client was saying, so that I could respond with a solid proposal.
He definitely taught me how to ask for the business, or to secure the next step. Robert's first question after a meeting was always, "How did it go?" I quickly learned that if I responded with, "Great meeting—client is really interested and is going to let me know next week," Robert would ask, "And do you have the follow-up call set up with them next week?" Robert always held me accountable—and I learned to make sure I always had a definitive next step.