Leading a Sales Team…..after a terrible year!

Poor Leadership

It’s been a long year…..for some reason key territories/countries didn’t perform to expectations, important accounts haven’t delivered, market growth decreased, heavy sales rep vacancies, I can go on and on but I think you get the picture. What went wrong…..absolutely went WRONG!

I’m sure many of you who are reading this blog experienced such a year this year, I have one question for you…how are you keeping your team UP?

I’ve always felt during these types of occasions you can really see the true competency of someone placed in a leadership role and if they have what it takes to LEAD. I’m confident and assured in saying that most of us can lead a team of individuals when things are going well, everyone is happy, everyone is getting paid handsomely, everyone thinks YOU’RE GREAT….until the bottom falls out and then what? It was explained to me very early in my sales career that your legacy, competency, and leadership will be judged by how you deal with the “Bad Times” not the good ones. This really doesn’t seem fair (I know….life isn’t fair) but we bestow platitudes on those who’ve failed and have rejuvenated to succeed from those failures….a CHARACTER trait right? There is however one key point of emphasis that needs to be…. well emphasized and that is the following year. You see how you end a disastrous year will have an immediate impact and I will go a step further and say a possible prediction on how the start of the next year will go. There have been numerous cases I’ve seen where sales managers who have experienced significantly down sales years go into this “schizophrenic” zone where you almost don’t recognize them, their behavior literally changes proverbially overnight. I’ve seen managers fire the majority of their team and start from scratch (this is a whole new blog I can talk about), become “The Micro-Manager from Hell”, “over think” (which happens a lot), and become hostile towards their salespeople, all types of behavior that sets up the following year to be just as nightmarish.

The key to “Leading a Sales Team….after a terrible year” is to EMBRACE what has just occurred. YEP, embrace the failures with your team….okay let me explain. The best way to LEAD, COACH, DEVELOP and SUCCEED from a down year is to break through the “cognitive dissonance” that comes from always having success. My most successful years in a sales leadership capacity came off terrible years because I had the eyes, ears, and commitment from my team to buy in to our “resurrection strategy”. Failing, in some cases is therapeutic and it opens the door to more focus and commitment to overcome that failure, and in a sense it brings the team more together ironically. Literally, I had an easier time bringing my team together because we all felt “WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER”…..from having a failing prior year. So, I believe the best way to lead a sales organization after a tough year is to “Embrace” it, develop unity, develop a great following year sales plan, and inspire your people.

Finally, below are 4 basic principles I’ve led my sales teams with and I’ve these with them so that there’s no question from a direction point of view:
• Stay Focused (the task is before you, have unwavering focus)
• Maintain a “Sense of Urgency” (passivity doesn’t increase sales)
• Handle Business One Step at a Time (reinforces focus and eliminates unproductive distractions)
• Control the “Controllable”…avoid the “Uncontrollable” (distractions that you have no control over should be avoided)

Take a listen to my podcast on how to be an “Inspirational Sales Leader”


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