We often dream of building a team full of leaders; an unstoppable team of like-minded people that focus on forward progress and growth. Applying this to a specific example, we have hired over 20 sales people in the past 5-6 years, and can say that 25% of them have been successful and a lesser margin phenomenal. When thinking what has made the biggest difference in the success rate, there is no better answer than Leadership. Our current top sales person understands the power of Leadership and here are some the things I have noticed about him:
- He works extremely hard.
- He is strategic in what he does. He recently received the same professional certification that a core group of our customer base is required to receive. Something he is not required to do, but now he is really one of them.
- He is an expert in what we do.
- He knows he has to earn the right to win and what it takes to do so.
- He takes action when something needs change – He approached me over a year ago wanting to pursue a state contract purchasing vehicle. At the time, we had been unsuccessful in either getting on state contracts or found them to be ineffective in improving sales. I saw it as a lower priority item, yet he took charge and led the team in responding to the state contract RFP. We won it, and his leadership has made a difference.
- He cares about his reputation and continues to take care of customers after the sale. He understands the power of relationships and his customers are his friends.
- He questions authority when he thinks we should make a change. He is not always right, but our decisions and direction are always better because of it.
- He has learned to compartmentalize the wins and losses. Focusing on either too much creates complacency.
- He is always prepared – When he needs assistance on large deals, he is typically telling me or the person assisting him our part of the process and what he expects. He leads the charge to win.
- He is compassionate. If someone internally goes the extra mile to help him win a deal, he sends them a card and/or makes sure to recognize them. Or if a customer has a personally tragedy he is there to let them know how much he cares.
- He takes it upon himself to help drive creative marketing in his territory, rather than wait on marketing to suggest or not suggest what may be best.
So what is so special about this description? Aren’t these the sort of things we would expect any successful sales person to do? The answer is yes, but it is rare. Leadership continues to be rare, but we should never stop the quest to build perfect teams. As a follow up to this example – we currently have the best sales team we have ever had. There are more of these qualities in each member of our team than ever before. Success will follow, and they will continue to grow because they have the Leadership gene. I can also say the same about our other departments and teams.
This level of analysis can be applied to any type of organization or group of people. To give ourselves the best shot at a team full of leaders, we always put leadership at the front of the line in our hiring decisions – right up there with the person’s understanding and appreciation for providing exceptional customer service. All other skills/talents are secondary because they are much easier to teach/learn.
The leaders always stand out and it is because they take it upon themselves to make changes, improve, and consistently give extra mile service.