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Sales Prospecting Perspectives

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How Sales Leaders Model the Right Behaviors


Sales Prospecting Perspectives is pleased to bring you a guest post from Craig Wortmann, CEO and Founder of Sales Engine, a company that helps firms build and tune their sales engine(s). You can find him on , LinkedIn, & Twitter!

LeadershipThe best sales leaders I’ve ever worked for had three traits in common that made them powerful leaders.  Like all great leaders, they model the behaviors they ask for from their people. 

But that’s just the “what.”  The more important question is the “how.”  How did they model the behavior?  And why was that powerful?

The discipline of “pick one, just one”

My best (and worst) experiences in working with sales leaders have always been in team selling situations where I was the junior salesperson.  In the sweep of an hour-long meeting, there are always a handful of things you can do differently or better.  But as I reflect on the best sales leaders I’ve been lucky to have in my career, it’s the ones who would pick one – just one – thing that needed improvement and talk about why and how I could do that better who are the best.  Even if I had been a train wreck in the meeting, my best sales leaders had the discipline to stick to one item of improvement and thereby help me focus and actually get better.  It takes tremendous discipline, but they seemed to know something that I have now only learned with experience; we can only focus on improving one thing at one time. (It’s also no coincidence that these leaders knew how to actually run a meeting!)

The skill of providing direct, immediate, and honest feedback

My best sales leaders never missed an opportunity to provide that one piece of feedback.  Think about that for a minute.  Sounds like such a simple thing, but it’s not.  Sales leaders are busy people and they have their own 900 things to do.  The ability to navigate a sales person through feedback that they may or may not want to hear is quite a skill.  The skill is made up of selecting the focus area, communicating the needed improvement in a way that I can hear it, and then listening to any angst or objection that may come.  This can be exhausting, but this is what great leaders do. I believe feedback has an expiration date and I use a simple feedback model to provide and receive feedback in my work.

The knowledge of unique strengths

This sounds strange, I know, but my best sales leaders just knew me.  They listened and they discovered what my unique strengths were, and then they gave me room to leverage those strengths.  Instead of trying to make all of the salespeople succeed in the same way, my best leaders would figure out where we were strong in the sales process and where we were weak.  This knowledge of each person’s unique strengths helps leaders make those constant adjustments necessary to keeping the sales engine tuned.  Sales leaders know how to manage and then to get out of a salesperson’s way when necessary.

Taken together, these three elements combine to model the behavior that makes people want to improve their performance.  What could be better?

Craig WortmannCraig Wortmann is the founder and CEO of Sales Engine, a company that helps firms build and tune their sales engine. He is also a Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurship at University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and author of “What’s Your Story?: Using Stories to Ignite Performance and Be More Successful”. You can find Craig on Google + and Twitter.



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