I’ve seen all kinds of sales leaders. Some that are as inspiring to their sales teams as Churchill and Napoleon, some as forgettable as King Edward V (he lasted less than 3 months).
When great sales leaders introduce something new to their sales team (such as new learning & development programs), we at Sales for Life get a back stage pass to watching the good, bad & ugly.
To inspire you, here are 6 leadership stories that really impressed us over the last 5 years:
1) Demonstrate importance through action
We met Tony when he led the sales team at HireRight, and in 2015, he became the CCO at Dodge Data. When he started his new role, he saw a big market opportunity – the construction industry was yet to go through a digital transformation, and Dodge Data could make a quick impact.
Right away, Tony made Social Selling a top 3 priority in the business, and created an experiential “social branding” workshop. He gathered the sales team (+100 sellers) to have their social profiles remade in a live workshop, including an on-staff photographer taking their picture for LinkedIn, Twitter and other social platforms.
2) Lead from the front
Alan leads the revenue charge of a 250,000 employee company. In 2017, Teleperformance decided to digitally transform their entire sales ecosystem.
What really impressed me about Alan was the sheer volume of stuff on his plate, but that didn’t stop him from becoming a social seller FIRST. He became certified before his sales team, and then led weekly leadership calls to help his frontline sales managers understand how to coach and lead the modern, digital seller. There were no excuses accepted!
3) Dig the ditch with your team
Kofax has been a global digital sales transformer, and Jim’s commitment to an EMEA transformation can be seen by the dirt on his sleeves. Outside of our engagement, Jim rolled up the troops, brought them all to London, and build a digital sales plan. I don’t just mean pointing at the ditch and saying to his sales team “dig!”, I mean sales play by sales play, they walked through accounts and build digital sales cadences to drive engagement in those accounts. Jim doesn’t lead by only looking at dashboards and reports, he realizes that ditches don’t dig themselves.
4) Sell with stories and consistent communication
Change management takes time, and “time kills all deals” (Sales 101). Chris realized that he needed to sell stories internally, and he wouldn’t have hard sales numbers to prove the value of digital selling upfront. Week by week, he would communicate small wins throughout the Sprint enterprise sales team.
Wins weren’t revenue stories up front, but more subjective stories like unlocking a dormant account, or re-engaging an old customer that moved to a new company. Week by week, month by month, he continued his story telling, which evolved from subjective to objective to empirically proving that social sellers were outperforming the analog sellers. Consistency through repetition is what drove home the message.
5) Keep your team accountable
Don’t use the excuse that your region (EMEA, APAC, LATAM) or language is a barrier to a digital sales transformation. Sauro is the CEO of the largest Italian VAR to Dassault Systemes, and his company does business only in Italy. Sauro is VERY impressive when you meet him – the definition of fun meets business! Sauro does not allow for excuses, and ensured that his entire sales organization learnt, applied, and drove sales opportunities from training (English wouldn’t be an excuse for him). Up until Nuovomacut, we had never encountered a sales organization that became 100% certified in our rigorous certification process… guess what, Sauro’s team was the very first!
6) Make it fun and rewarding
Sales professionals love games. Howard leverages the popular TV series Shark Tank to gamify the experience. Essentially, sales professionals create and document their sales opportunities sources or influenced by Social Selling. The leaders select the top 3, and bring these sales professionals into their office in Los Angeles for The Pitch!
Each sales professional pitches senior sales leaders on how they approach Social Selling and what results it’s yielding. At the end of the pitches, the “Sharks” deliberate and vote on the winner. The winner can win prizes such as computers, trips, gift cards, etc. Howard knew this process would engage the sellers right away, and have them complete their goals of certification and sales results.