5 Traits That Separate the Best Sales Managers

Premise:

As the profession of sales evolves, new younger employees are welcomed in the sales force, the sales managers need to evolve with the change as well. Here are some skills that set certain sales managers apart from all others.

Skills that separate the best sales managers from others:

1. Tech savvy:

With more and more millennials entering the sales force, they bring with them the expectation of leveraging technology in everything that they want to do. If as a sales manager, you are not able to keep pace with them, you could potentially lose respect in their eyes. In addition, it is a fact that good sales managers will use and leverage everything at their disposal to increase the effectiveness of their leadership and their team’s ability to bring in new business. So, being tech savvy is becoming more and more important if one wants to do well as a sales professional, more so, if one is a sales manager.

2. Focus on Quadrant 2 activities:

One of the important thing that almost everyone around me seems to want more and more of and is loosing more and more of is their ability to focus on a single topic for a length of time (a few hours, if needed). As a sales manager, if one is able to show develop and exhibit this kind of focus, it earns not only respect among peers and team members but also helps one achieve a lot more done. Add to it if the focus is on the quadrant 2 activities (as defined by Steven Covey in his seminal book – 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), the impact of this focus is multi-fold. This also shows one’s team the importance of focusing on Q2 activities. We can see this all around us that people acquire habits of their managers, whether it is certain slangs that they use or çertain behaviors that they exhibit. By showcasing great Q2 focus, a sales manager encourages his team to do the same, which when the team does, leads to spectacular results.

3. Team First:

Most sales managers that I have seen use competition among their team members to motivate and push them to get better results. This works for some time and then doesn’t work. This also creates a culture where no one helps anyone else. On the contrary great sales managers foster a team spirit among their teams. They encourage the team members to help each other out, not only in mundane and unimportant things but also in critical sales situations by either covering for a teammate or helping create a proposal or even brainstorm on how to approach or tackle a tough prospect. They compete not with the team but work as a team to compete in the competition. They will stand by their team no matter what. They are loyal to their team to a fault and thereby generate the same kind of loyalty from their teams as well. Creating such a culture sets a sales manager apart from all other sales managers.

4. Hiring & Firing:

Great sales managers are very good at hiring great sales professionals. They clearly know what kind of skillets are required to do well in their organisation and are able to find ways to separate the potential candidates with the relevant skillsets. They are also constantly on the lookout for good candidates, irrespective of whether they have a headcount or not. They identify potential hires before the need for them arise. Similarly, they only fire people on their team for attitude, culture fit and lack of effort or intention. They are able to train or coach others to become better. If that doesn’t work, they prefer to help them move to a different team rather than fire them.

5. Remove roadblocks:

If you ask sales professionals what frustrates them the most, they are more likely to share that the struggle that they face internally, within their organisation to close deals frustrates them the most. This happens due to a host of reasons, that the MD or COO needs to address. While they are being addressed, great sales managers work internally within their organisations to align with other departments and forge strong bonds, so that they are able to remove roadblocks for their team members when it comes to closing out transactions. They also shield their team members from all the office politics or teach them how to navigate the same so that they can do what is the right thing to do for their customers and the organisation,

In conclusion:

These are some of the most critical traits that almost all great sales leaders possess and display. The question now is, do you possess these attributes. If not, what are you doing to acquire them? One other quality that all of them share is their passion for continuous improvement. They constantly learn either by reading books, learn from others, listen to podcasts or attend sales conferences or training. You can do as well. Some of these are character traits that you need to inculcate in your self and others are skills that one can learn if one has the yearning to learn and improve.

Do you want to develop these traits? What are you willing to do to gain them?

Rule #51 – Sometimes You Are Wrong

NCIS & Leroy Jethro Gibbs

I am a big fan of the television series “NCIS” and have watched every single episode that has been released. There are 15 seasons and about 24 episodes in every reason and each episode is about 40 minutes long. You can do the math – the amount of time that I have spent watching this television series.

I love this series because i like the central characters, specifically, the larger than life character – Leroy Jethro Gibbs.

One of the reason I like him is because of his steadfast character, his loyalty & the loyalty that he inspires in his team (among his peers, bosses and reportees). I believe that there is a lot that we can learn from him about being a great manager & even a great human being.

As it turns out, there are a lot of fans of Gibbs around the world. THere are fan websites, fan wiki pages, pinterest boards and discussion forums on what he does and his rules (51 of them).

Living by our own Rules

I think that all of us benefit from learning from Gibbs. Each one of us need to explore and decide the rules that will define how we live. Then live by those rules. Share these rules with people around us.

This will clarify what is important for us and how we will react to any given situation and they can understand why we reacted to a situation given our rules.

This also informs the team members about how we would expect them to react in a situation even if we are not around.

One specific rule that i really like and is relevant for entrepreneurs is Rule #51. This rule states:

Sometimes You Are Wrong!

As entrepreneurs, we are wired to be confident about ourselves and subsequently about our ideas. There are times when we can get too influenced by our very own confidence that we stop seeing the reality. It is important to have this confidence and an alternate reality that we are trying to create, there are sometimes when we are wrong. The faster we realise and accept that we are wrong in this scenario can be the difference between success and disaster.

So, while, most of the times, we need to back ourselves, but at the same time we need to put in place mechanisms and check points to catch ourselves when we are wrong. A few ways that we can do this could be by

  • Accountability Partners: Having accountability partners tell us when we are wrong. We need to always have people around us who are never afraid to tell us when we are wrong. This could be our spouses, business partners or even certain friends/employees. It is even better if we ask them to play this role in advance.
  • Hiring coaches: We can hire external coaches who can help us out in this regard. They can keep us honest and tell us the bitter truth when we need to hear them.

My Rules:

  1. Be Healthy (Physically, Financially, Emotionally, Spiritually & Intellectually)
  2. Be fiercely curious
  3. Be consistent & persistent
  4. Do work that matters (to me)
  5. Dont Judge others. To each his own!
  6. There is always a way out of any situation
  7. Better to Apologize than to wait for permission
  8. Experiment
  9. Keep things simple
  10. Instead of “Either / Or”, think “And”
  11. Go for “10x”
  12. Steal like an Artist
  13. Impossible is nothing.
  14. Slow Down
  15. Remember Rule No 6 (Never take yourself so goddamn seriously)
  16. Sometimes I am  are wrong!

Gibbs’ Rules:

You can find all of Gibbs’s rules here.

Your Rules?

So, what are your rules? Have you made your list? Have you shared it with your team? Do you live by your rules? If you have your’s, pls feel free to share them here with us. Publicly sharing your rules only helps you become accountable to them.

 

Best among What I Read this Week

1. How to Increase Your Influence at work

In this post, Rebecca talks about some tactics that we can use to increase our overall influence at work. She gives a lot of good advice. Read, learn and put it in practice.

2. What are you saying “No” to 

In this post, Anthony talks about the impact that every ”Yes” we say has on our time, work and impact and argues the importance of picking the right “Yes” by saying “No” to everything else.

3. Marais 

One of the best designs that I have seen in sometime. This is a gift pack for cakes designed to look like a piano. This again goes to show that inspiration for great creativity is all around us. We just need to look at it.

4. Facial Recognition & Fighting Crime

The police department in China deployed facial recognition via sunglasses instead of relying on CCTV cameras. Now, this can be a great tool to capture those hiding among us in plain sight and when used wrongly, a huge challenge to citizen privacy.

5. What we should have learnt in school but never did

In this post, Srini Rao, the host of the Unmistakable Creative, shares his insights of life skills that schools should teach our children but doesn’t. Great read.
This post is sponsored by Skillshare. You can get 2 months of free access to all the 18000+ courses on Skillshare if you signup for the same @ http://rmukeshgupta.com/learn.

Is Free Public Transportation the Answer for Germany to Meet Pollution Norms of EU?

Premise:

DW Akademie recently reported that Germany would like to experiment with making public transportation free in 5 of its cities to explore if this can help it meet the pollution norms of European Union. The question is if this is the approach that will produce the results that it is expecting to achieve. This in addition to the policy to ban all petrol vehicles by 2030.

Wicked problems:

This is a classic example of what I call a wicked problem. This problem is so multi-faceted with so many different implications that it is extremely difficult to solve. Before we even go looking for solutions to the problem, we need to first understand the real nature or cause of the problem. When we dive deeper, we get to know that the people living in Germany are already aware of the fact that it is important to reduce pollution. In an ideal world, they might even be willing to take public transportation instead of taking their cars out. Some of them already carpool to work. They know that the more cars on the road, the more traffic jams and more time spend sitting in a car (which might or might not be productive, depending on what they are doing in the car while waiting for them to cross the traffic jams.

So, why are more people not taking public transportation? I think we need to delve a little deeper here.

  • Is taking public transport faster? I think it is important for the answer to this question to be an astounding “Yes” in order for behaviour change (from using private cars to using public transportation) to happen.
  • Is taking public transport convenient? If we have to walk about 15 mins to get to a bus or tram stand (at times in extremely cold conditions), you can safely assume that we will prefer taking our cars out rather than taking public transportation.
  • Is taking our own car significantly more expensive? For Most people whom we want to influence to take public transport instead of their private cars, making public transportation fee is no big deal. They can very well afford to pay for public transportation if they decide to take it. To get them to ditch their cars, the financial impact needs to be much more significant than making public transportation free.

Solution:

With wicked problems like these, we need to explore and prototype potential solutions and try them out in small pockets before rolling out to larger and larger communities.

Given this background info, what could the first prototype look like:

1. Create a smaller transportation system for people to use to reach public transport hubs (without having to walk or drive). These could be on-demand buggies that come to your home to pick you and drop you off at the closest public transportation hub (bus, train or tram stations).

2. Implement surge pricing for parking slots during the day in public parking garages & reduce the number of public parking garages by re-purposing some of these into public areas instead (shops, food trucks, public parks, co-working spaces, etc).

Why would this work:

By implementing this combination, what are doing is making it easy to reach public transport hubs and at the same time making it difficult for people to use their car (as it will get more and more difficult and expensive to find a parking slot). This combination would get people to give public transport a try and once they realise that it is easier, cheaper and faster to get around their city using public transport, it will become their default mode of transport.

Of course, this is not a perfect solution. This is only the first of many prototypes but I believe is a great start to solving this wicked problem.

It is important that we make it easier to take public transportation before we start increasing the parking fee. Doing it the other way would be a sure shot way to create public unrest and will never work.

In conclusion:

In solving wicked problems like these, we need to be careful and look at the problem holistically before we even try to attempt to solve it. And most of the times, solving these complex, wicked problems takes a bit of creativity and a combination of ideas to address the critical areas to solve the problem.

Do you think the prototype I have suggested has the potential to get more and more people to try out public transportation?

PBTO S2E4: Rethinking Vertical Movement Inside a Building

Who is on the show:

In this episode we host architect and product designer Elena Larriba. She works at the intersection between art, science and design. Her curiosity leads her to investigate new concepts, technologies and techniques which she blends together in novel experiments merging engineering, design and craft.

Why is she on the show:

She is the designer of a vertical movement product called Vycle, which is a hybrid version of a cycle and an elevator and can be used for vertical movement. She has since this conversation gone on to create a lot more interesting products.

What did I learn from the conversation:

  • There are opportunities all around us. We only need to look with curious eyes.
  •  One of the easiest way for us to come up with interesting ideas is to combine multiple ideas in ways never tried before.
  •  The importance of imagination in the product creation process.
  •  The importance of repeated prototyping in solving some specific problem.
  • You don’t need to be an expert or experienced for you to have breakthrough ideas. What this means is that anyone on your team can have breakthrough ideas. Listen to them and their ideas.

How can you find more about her and her work:

You can find more information about her and her portfolio of work here. You can also reach her by e-mail.
Sponsor:
This episode is brought to you by Skillshare. You can get 2 months of Skillshare for free .