Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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Are You Bringing Your “A” Game?

October 14, 2013

Do this quick evaluation of your own management skills to see how you’re doing as you start planning for 2014.

Todd Martin 100913 image 1I know that the leaves are just starting to fall in the northern climes, but 2014 will be a reality soon. You and your fellow managers have probably starting setting department-wide goals for the next year. At the same time, you might do some informal self-evaluation as you begin formulating your personal goals for the coming 12 months.

Do you see yourself as the problem-solver-in-chief?

There are many good reasons why you’re the sales manager or V.P. of Sales. You excelled as a salesperson, both as an individual achiever and an effective member of a team. You uncovered new business. You triumphed over the organizational challenges of managing a sales territory, and your maintained good relationships with customers. You went the extra mile in many ways.

It can be disconcerting to see other up-and-comers nipping at your heels. Final decisions may always be yours, but acknowledge that you don’t always have a lock on the best solution to a problem. Seek input from your team. It doesn’t make you look weak or lost. Quite the opposite. You’ll instill confidence in your team, and the company will ultimately benefit, which bodes well for you.

Are you using technology too much for communications with your team?

What an age we live in, an old co-worker of mine used to say of rapidly-evolving technology. I use email and IMs and tweets and Todd Martin 100913 image 2social media updates every day, and they allow me to message people without breaking into their days unnecessarily, learn about members of my social networks in ways I never could before, and share news and ideas with a wide audience.

But think about how energizing personal contact is. You can’t get that from a pattern of pixels on a screen. And consider the impact that an in-person meeting or lunch or just an informal conversation sitting around the office has on members of your team.

Do you really hear what your team is saying to you?

Or are you just listening? I know how trying it can be to hear the same litany of complaints from a parade of people. But sometimes, one thought or phrase in a 10-minute monologue from one of your salespeople reveals something you hadn’t considered.

Communications 101: It may seem forced at first, but try rephrasing what the individual just said in your own words. It’s a good way to make sure you’re understanding the real message.

Are you being too rigid about policies?

Todd Martin 100913 image 3Yes, there have to be rules. But are there situations where it would be wise to look for solutions that line up with the spirit of a law, if not the absolute letter. It’s a delicate balance, but see if there are times you need to color outside the lines.

Do you provide your sales force with the back story?

As a member of management, there is certainly information you’re privy to that can’t be shared with your team. But try to be transparent when you can. Don’t ask your valued staff to simply comply with mandates when you’re able to communicate the rationale.

How’d you do?




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