Much like Jackie Robinson was to the sport of baseball – a determined, innovative walking, talking quantum shift in the sport – Maya Angelou was to the art of literature and poetry. She is best known for her I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, and her lack of concern about the “norms” that plagued society as she was growing in influence as an author. She’s quoted as saying, “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” A quick review of her life would indicate she did just that in all these aspects, and in spades.
Enter: Style Strategy Sociability
Style. There are two points I want to make about this “S”, one regarding your team and one regarding the perception of your organization out in the marketplace. Let’s start with your team. Style can pertain to your leadership approach, your interaction with your team as individuals and as a group, and to the team members themselves. And while style can be a bit subjective in nature, after all it should be a reflection of you as their leader, I would encourage you to link the words consistent and compassionate to it. It is important to remember that things like humor, wit, or really any public displays of interactions can be interpreted very differently by different people. So, what “fits” you best may not sit so well with your team. I’m not suggesting you are not true to yourself, but I would say that whatever approach to leadership you take, be considerate of those in your wake.
Your salespeople will all inherently come with their own unique style. Both in their interactions with each other as peers and with you as their leader. The same two words – consistency and compassion – should be applied here and you would be wise to consider monitoring it and inserting yourself when and where appropriate. A loud and boisterous style, for example, may drive others on the team away or cause them to be less productive than their potential. In contrast, a quiet and disciplined approach may have the opposite effect, drawing others to work more diligently for the cause. The point is there isn’t one right way here, and not all approaches will mix well, so as their leader, be mindful of it.
A quick note for how you are perceived in the marketplace. I would couple some words to your style here too – they would be sincere and service-oriented. People will appreciate you for who you are, or at least they should, but it will go a long way if you make sure your style doesn’t forget your prospects and clients are people of varying personalities who need to know the real you.
Strategy. This “S” is mission critical. I meet so many folks who insist they have a clean-cut, quantifiable, justifiable strategy and in reality, it’s nothing more than a great deal of “we’ve always done it this way”. I’d encourage you as a leader to turn the criticism dial up on yourself here. There are several factors you should be reviewing. The first is how well does your sales team truly know and believe in the existing approach you have. Have there been suggestions for change? Have they been sincerely considered? The next is looking at the approach and asking yourself questions like: “why do we do it this way”; “how do I measure each step in our strategy?”; and “is my strategy today current with the needs of my prospects – am I touching them in ways that matter to them?”
I feel like I need to beat the proverbial drum loudly on this one. As you look to turn a critical eye inward and begin asking tough questions of yourself and your team, one thing you need to be mindful of is that change is likely imminent. It may be small, or it may be monumental, but if you haven’t truly analyzed your strategy in a while, change is certain. You need to prepare your team for it, and you need to prepare yourself for it. Some of the change may be difficult, or even painful, but it needs done just the same.
Sociability. Or maybe better put, social responsibility. I’d like to focus on two aspects here – your messaging to your prospects and your messages to your team. First, your prospects. I want to use a contextually negative example to stress the importance of this point. If you have a LinkedIn account and you’ve accepted an invite from a total stranger, then you received at least one sales pitch that reads like “War & Peace”. It has a bunch of sales jargon in the text and probably a link or an attachment. Sound familiar?? And I bet, unless you just love reading other people’s sales pitch, you were totally turned off. Even if what they have to sell could interest you. Right? So, do yourself and your team a favor – make sure your messaging is responsible and respectful of the recipient. Make sure your approach is to respect their time, their potential as a prospect, and take the time to suggest listening in your message before you assume you have a solution. No one wants to buy the latest, greatest whiz-bang. No one, not even if it’s “on sale now”.
Now a quick note on your team. This one is a bit more personal in nature. As their leader, I’d encourage you to again, turn an eye inward, and consider how sociable you are with your team. Maybe another way to look at it is how approachable are you when it comes to your team. As their leader, do they feel like you are on the battlefield with them, or are you leading from an ivory tower? I’m not saying you have to be best buddies with each member of your team. In fact, there needs to be a distinction between the personal and professional lines – your team’s ability to resonate with you, your leadership style, and your messaging internally is important to your team’s success.
Put people first, use the 3 “S’s” as they can benefit you best, and know that I am here to help or just chat, should you ever want to discuss what’s best for your team.
To raising all ships!
P.S. Be sure to join us next week when we talk about the 3 T’s – Taglines, Testimonials, Tipping Points