Elevating Your Sales Organization

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Elizabeth has been a Sales Professional for 10 years. She had worked hard and consistently produced for the two companies she had sold for in her industry. Tomorrow she was going to start at a brand new company as the Director of Sales. She was excited to say the least. She was ready. She had completed her master program at the university 6 months prior. She was fortunate to have had two great role models as her bosses over the years. She also felt fortunate as she also had a horrible boss during that same period. It motivated her to get her advanced degree and look for a leadership position. She knew what kind of leader she wanted to be and was ready to take that step.

So here she was, on the eve of her first day as Director of Sales for a struggling software firm. The Sales team seemed to have potential but they were underachieving. As she looked back on all of her experience and all her advanced schooling she remembered a meeting early in her career with a top Sales Professional in her company. She was struggling a bit. She was doing what she thought she should be doing but was not getting the results. As a matter of fact, most of the team struggled except for one person, Monica, she was consistently the top producer in the company.

Elizabeth finally asked Monica out to lunch. While at lunch she finally got up the courage to ask her “Why are you so successful?” Monica laughed and said, “Because I made the decision to be successful.” Elizabeth was confused but before she could ask another question Monica continued, “When I got here, I was like you. Full of energy and ready to succeed. The only problem was the rest of the team was not. Since I did not know what to do I just did what they did, I mean they had been there before. I had ideas of what I should be doing but I figured they had been here and knew what to do.”

“One day, about 2 months in, I was struggling. I wanted to succeed but the way I was doing everything just wasn’t working. I finally got up the courage to ask one of the senior Sales Team members why we did things the way we did and he said to me, “Because that’s the way we always have done it.” I couldn’t believe my ears! Here I am thinking I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, failing at it with my boss beginning to get impatient and I realize the only reason I’m doing what I’m doing is because “we always have done it this way!” That was the day I made the decision to elevate.

“Elevate?” Elizabeth asked. “Elevate!” Monica declared. I needed to trust myself and no longer just stick with the status quo. “How do I do that?” Elizabeth asked. Monica then proceeded to break it down into three steps:

Embrace Discomfort

Embrace discomfort. In order to create positive change, you are going to have to try things you may not be comfortable with. Whether it be networking, cold calling or running your prospect meetings differently. It’s not going to be easy, and you have to be ready to fail. But you also have to be ready to make the adjustments to improve. Don’t just focus on the activity, focus on the right activity and the right approach, no matter how uncomfortable it may feel.

Create Achievable Goals

I realized at that time I had set myself up for disappointment because I only focused on one goal, making my quota. What I needed to focus on was piling up the small victories and accomplishments that lead to success. So each day and week I set goals for how many appointments I would generate, how many decision makers I talked to, how many proposals I generated and so on. By doing this I realized if I achieved a daily goal and a weekly goal that the monthly, quarterly and annual goals would follow. I walked away each day knowing I was on track because I kept it simple and achievable. Soon, my pipeline was growing and my boss was starting to ask me how I was doing it! By making sure I felt successful every day, I built up my confidence and new sales!

Don’t Give Up

Then, finally, don’t give up. You’re going to run into a speed bump, a challenge. I certainly did, especially when I first started. I had to deal with my own self-doubt about whether this would work. I had to deal with the rest of the team wondering why I was doing things differently. There are certain times where you have to remind yourself why you are doing this. You are there not just for a job or career but for a purpose. Mine is for my family. I want to take care of them. That’s why you see so many pictures of them up in my cubicle, it keeps me focused. It helps me push through it. If you stick with it, you’ll be successful.”
As Monica replayed that conversation back in her mind she knew what she had to do tomorrow as a new leader with a struggling team that needed leadership. She would challenge them to elevate. She would challenge them not to let “the way they had always done it” be how they operated. She would push them out of their comfort zone, help them see the simple steps they needed to take so they could celebrate the small achievements on the path to big ones, and support them and encourage them not to give up.

She knew in the end it would bring clarity to the sales team and create a rallying cry for them to all get behind. And once they were all behind it she would see higher performance and sustainable growth organization that will continue to succeed.

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Jack Kelly
Jack Kelly
Jack founded the Corlea Group in early 2009 with his first client coming on board in January of that year. Jack loves to coach. He coaches his clients and he helps coach his kid’s teams – it’s his passion and has been for over 25 years as a professional, father and volunteer. Why? Because he likes to help a team succeed.
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