Determine Your Best Sales Management Style

Today’s post is by Dr. Ken Blanchard, author of The One Minute Manager, which has sold more than 13 million copies. 

The One Minute Manager Ken BlanchardCertainly, the people being supervised are the key variable in determining a sales management style. No question about it. Without people there would be no leadership or management necessary. However, being realistic and recognizing that we work in a world which doesn’t operate exactly the same as situations in textbooks, there are other variables which impact managerial style.

One important factor which will determine one’s approach to management is the style and expectations of the boss. If your boss is a very directive manager and expects you to be the same, it may be difficult or impossible for you to engage in a coaching or supportive leadership style without getting yourself into hot water.

Your associates are another moderating influence which can potentially change your sales management style. In some organizations, it’s expected that all managers on a given level will operate in pretty much the same manner. If you should get out of step with your peers, they will become upset. You would be a threat to the security of the organization. Hence you will get pressure to return to the group norms.

Corporate personality or organizational culture is yet another variable which may have an impact on your sales management style. Organizations, as with people, have definite characteristics. The management styles available to you in a military organization, or in a bureaucratic office, will be far different than those in a flower shop or the creative director’s department of a large advertising agency. Clearly, your management style isn’t going to be the same as a drill sergeant’s when you’re working with a group of PTA volunteers.

Time also influences management style. If time is available, a good manager will use it to help subordinates develop skills and commitment. However, when things get wild and hairy around the office, a manager may not have the necessary time it takes to employ the “coaching” style of management which demands considerable time for the one-on-one involvement.

To determine the best and most realistic style, a savvy manager will diagnose his or her situation based on several criteria. First consideration must be given to those being managed. After they are sized up, it would be well for a manager to study the boss’ management style as well as to consider the management styles used by others in the organization. Another consideration is the personality of the company. Any management style must be compatible with the organization itself.

When deciding upon a management style, first and foremost, always consider the people you are responsible for managing. Then, think about the environmental factors which might influence your style.

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Three Things Your High-Performing Salespeople Do Differently

By Tony Yeung 

Our clients often ask us to benchmark them against leading sales organizations. Unfortunately, we often find that concrete insight from the data is limited. The data may lack sufficient detail or is hard to collect. Even if we get good information, the chosen sales organizations may not be good models to emulate.

That doesn’t mean, however, there aren’t highly relevant benchmarks that can be collected easily and provide valuable insight. These benchmarks are revealed in the behavior of the high performers within your own organization.

Every sales organization has individuals who consistently deliver superior results. There isn’t any magic behind why these individuals perform; they often just naturally do things differently. Some achieve advances they’re seeking on sales calls more consistently than others. Some salespeople are highly strategic in how they engage their accounts. Still others just do more of the right things that drive results.

So how do you determine these behaviors or benchmarks? We use a diagnostic tool called the Sales Force Activity Snapshot (SFAS) to develop a detailed understanding of salespeople’s behaviors, putting the differences between high-, mid-, and low-performing salespeople in stark contrast. For instance, we recently fielded an SFAS engagement with a sales organization in the hospitality industry, and the insight pointed to tangible growth opportunities for the organization.

Here is knowledge we gained about this organization through SFAS:

Structured coaching activity matters. Salespeople who had regularly scheduled sales-activity and pipeline reviews with their managers outperformed those who didn’t. High- and mid-level performers were about 50 percent more likely to have these one-on-one reviews, and they also had more than 10 percent higher goal attainment than their peers.

Focus is key. High-performing salespeople targeted fewer accounts on average and went more in-depth with those accounts. We found that while high- and mid-level performers did the same number of sales calls every week, the high performers focused those calls on fewer accounts, doing between 1.5 and 2 times as many calls per account. The high performers were also more likely to do systematic account reviews with their customers.

Even the best need to plan. High-performing salespeople were more rigorous in their precall planning. High performers spent about 50 percent more time developing precall plans compared to mid-level performers. We see this time and time again, yet many organizations still don’t put sufficient focus on effective precall planning.

These are just a few examples of the opportunities that SFAS identified. By implementing the right processes, tools, training, and ongoing reinforcement practices, each of these targeted behaviors can be enhanced and spread throughout the sales organization. The key lies in taking a systematic approach to identifying the behaviors of high performers and then focusing on the behaviors we can replicate on a broader basis.

To learn how well your salespeople are using their time, check out the Sales Force Activity Snapshot from ZS Associates.

Tony Yeung
Tony Yeung is principal at ZS Associates.

[Image via Flickr / Kat...]

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Seven Motivational Questions for Sales Managers

motivateThe universal question all sales managers ask is: How can I motivate my people?

Through hundreds of research reports, one message rings loud and clear: to increase motivation, create an atmosphere where the salespeople motivate themselves. When a salesperson feels personally involved in a plan, he or she works to make it happen. To create a self-motivating atmosphere, as a manager, ask yourself the following seven questions. Notice that each one involves improving communications with your staff.

1. Do your people know your plans?

The best way to motivate people is to let them know your plans so they can participate in them. Also, make known your goals and the goals of the company. Let them see the big picture and get a sense of the importance of their contribution to it.

2. Do you give feedback?

Feedback is essential even to seemingly well-motivated salespeople. Every salesperson wants to be encouraged if he or she is doing well. If they are not doing well, they want to know why. By giving feedback, you keep the communications channels open. If your salespeople know you’re willing to discuss performance with them, they’ll be more likely to bring you their problems and questions to keep you better informed. Create an atmosphere where people are not afraid to tell you when something is wrong and you will have fewer surprises.

3. Do you build on strengths? 

Many managers have been programmed to focus on weaknesses – as though any imperfection would negate or detract from any strength. This is not so. All success comes from strengths. An intelligent and persistent person, who is also physically handicapped, succeeds because of intelligence and persistence, and in spite of any physical handicap.

4. Do you give constructive praise?

Perhaps the most golden rule for sales management is, “Never be too tough on a person when he’s down.” When an individual is upset over failure, harping on the negative can hurt him and squelch any incentive to improve. Even when giving criticism, you can create a positive framework: “I don’t think this is up to your usual standard. How can we improve this situation?”

5. Do you give rewards? 

If your salespeople meet their agreed-upon objectives, it is a good idea not to limit their rewards to kind words. Money, bonuses and incentives are key motivators for salespeople. But another reward you can give a high achiever is your time. Most managers spend the bulk of their time with the poor performers and let the best ones fend for themselves. When someone does a good job, recognize his or her efforts and set aside time to develop ways to motivate that salesperson to do even more.

6. Do you listen and learn? 

No matter what other techniques you employ in a quest to motivate your people, you have to be prepared to ask questions and to listen at least as much as you talk. No one’s ideas should be missed. You needn’t seize on every suggestion, but if you don’t at least get back to the person and say, “That was a terrific idea,” and thank him, he’ll never give you another one. Always give proper recognition for every valid suggestion.

7. Do you set an example?

The best sales manager is a good role model – not once in a while, but every day. Your salespeople pay 90 percent more attention to what you do than what you say. Actions do speak louder than words. A good manager knows how to say no, to be tough but fair. In other words, if you don’t handle the responsibilities of your own leadership position, you can’t expect your salespeople to live up to their job responsibilities either.

Successful sales managers are motivating all the time, not just when performance is down. A manager should always strive for maximum people potential – to get the best from each individual in his or her organization. The objective is always to let the other person determine the means to growth and to take the responsibility for his own development.

[Image via Flickr / Aristocrats-hat]

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How Leaders Inspire Teams to Take Action

To get better results from your sales meetings, study how great speakers inspire others to take action.

Great leaders and great speakers all have carefully planned conclusions to speeches that inspire others to act. Think of President John F. Kennedy’s famous words during his Inaugural Address in 1961.

John Kennedy ask not what your country

If you want people to take action after the meeting, you need to plan and then present a convincing conclusion. Here is a step-by-step method to plan and present a convincing conclusion at your next sales meeting.

1) When you sit down to prepare your meeting, write the ending first. What should salespeople be able to do after the meeting? What will they need to do different in the future? What does your top salesperson do that your other salespeople don’t? When you write the ending first, it will be much easier to plan the introduction and body of your meeting.

2) Be very specific about what you want your salespeople to do. Avoid vague words like “understand” and “appreciate.” List no more than two or three actions, any more will be difficult to remember. Tell them what you want them to do and when. For instance:

  • Schedule five face-to-face appointments with new prospects for next week.
  • Ask each prospect what he likes best and least about his present method.
  • Ask each prospect to speculate on future time, money, and productivity costs if she doesn’t solve their problem now.

3) Make at least one of the actions something simple your salespeople can do immediately. As the saying goes, “well begun is half done.” If your salespeople leave with something simple to do they are more likely to do it. When they take action and achieve results they will be more likely to act on the other things you asked them to do.

4) Outline your conclusion. Summarize key points in two short, but memorable, sentences. Restate the main benefit and appeal to salespeople’s emotion as well as logic. Emotional appeals include financial freedom, health/vitality, safety, romance, piece of mind, and personal fulfillment.Tell your salespeople specifically what you want them to do.

5) Plan to conclude well before your time is up. How often have you run out of time at the end of a meeting and rushed to finish? You aren’t holding your salespeople’s attention if they’re looking at the clock. Anticipate that your meeting will take 30 percent longer than you think. If you normally have one-hour sales meetings, plan your agenda to conclude at the 40 minute mark.

6) Save your best “Ah ha!” points for last. Too many sales meetings flow like a bell curve, up at the beginning and down at the end. This brings your audience down just before the most important part-your conclusion. Pull out a pad of Post-It notes and write just one topic on each note. Arrange your topics to ensure that you build up to a conclusion and not down.

7) Follow up to measure the action taken. Great speakers know that their success is measured by the action that the audience takes as a result. Be specific in your follow-up. For instance, in the example cited earlier you might ask, “How many new face-to-face appointments did you set for last week? What questions did you ask? What were your results?”

What you say last is what your salespeople will remember most. A well planned and presented conclusion can inspire your team to action. When you follow these simple steps your meetings will be more effective. Plus, you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment when you see your ideas actually being implemented in the field.

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Sales Leaders, Keep Your Millennials Happy and Hungry

By Josiane Feigon 

Unless otherwise noted, statistics and trends cited within are taken from “MTV Studies Millennials In The Workplace: Uses It To Transform Its Own, Maybe Even Yours.”

Millennials are rocking the sales world big time. We love their boldness, spirit, and eagerness to participate. Fortunately, these young and energetic team members are also savvy, successful sellers who want to learn in their own style: collaborative, congenial, and competitive.

Milennial professional

[Image: Flickr]

But they can also send sales managers scrambling; Millennials tend to want answers now, and they can become bored with traditional sales-training methods. Because these superheroes will dominate our sales universe before you know it, we’ve compiled this field guide to the Millennial generation’s special qualities:

They thrive in a chill workplace. A chill workplace feeds their soul and a work-life balance, and it encourages new friendships. Millennials are not necessarily interested in paying their dues: 93 percent say they want more than a paycheck; they want a job that works with their lifestyle.

Just ask Siri. In today’s search-driven, quick-response, high-pressure, digital and social Sales 2.0 environment, managers feel like they’re channeling Siri – and it’s not fun! The Millennial generation, who make up the vast majority of new hires, wants your answers delivered to their inbox NOW.

Tell me why.” Millennials are also sometimes known as Generation Why, because they crave understanding. They need to smell, taste, touch, feel, and understand every reason why something works and why it doesn’t.

They fear being kicked off the island. Many Millennials grew up watching such TV shows as Survivor, The Bachelor, The Real World, American Idol, and The Apprentice. They understand (and fear) getting “kicked off the island.” They can be hard on themselves and mistake feedback for rejection. In general, they need to learn the real meaning behind customers’ objections.

Are they  always job hunting? Millennials will hold up to 11 jobs by the time they are 38 years old, but that doesn’t mean they will work for 38 different companies and should be treated as disposable workers. They have staying power. According to Hireology’s “Inside the Mind of a Millennial Job Seeker,” they will stay longer if they are kept engaged.

What’s next? Millennials tend to be hungry for new activities that keep them engaged. In the training world, that means you must vary the learning method from partnering to break-out sessions to standing up and writing on whiteboards.

Microcoaching is a must. Today’s Talent 2.0 is watching every step you make, and these employees want you to reciprocate – they love attention, and they want yours. Millennials don’t need help with the dailies as much as they need help with strategy, ideas, techniques, and tips. Sixty-one percent of Millennials say they need specific directions from the boss to do their best work.

“How am I doing?” Millennials thrive on regular – read: constant – feedback. They want to always know where they stand and are hungry for reinforcement. They always look for acknowledgment, which helps them learn and retain information.

They love rewards and prizes. They look for recognition. They want to know where they stand and get rewarded for it. But be warned: they could very well be bored by coffee-shop gift cards and trinkets. For them, it’s all about access, not possession. My take? Go with gift certificates to Netflix, Amazon, or AmEx instead.

Join us in the playroom! Taking short breaks is important because it allows your team to recharge. Some companies provide a playroom, with foosball, shuffleboard, and darts, where workers can actively take their mind off work.

Training must be very visual. Millennials need Facebook, Instagram, and video validation. They grew up with their lives heavily documented on video and in photographs and scrapbooks, and they are part of the “quantified self” generation. Forget tons of data and reading – training must include the “visual bling” component.

They defy authority. Hierarchies don’t exist for Millennials. Their parents wanted to be their “peer-ents,” so they grew up believing they were equals with authority. They trust their peers more than they trust authority figures. Sales Millennials break the barriers when it comes to hierarchy, and they place more value on their workplace being fun and social. Company-sponsored happy hours have replaced meetings.

They’re hungry for a home. According to theguardian.com, Millennials are sitting on huge school loans, so more than ever, they have to earn a steady income. They want you to provide a comfortable home – that is, a fun place to work where they can bring their friends, who are their fellow team members. Maybe they’ll never move out of the comfortable “home” you built for them.

They’re always on. The need to be “on” all the time is a reality but not a good one considering today’s multiple mobile devices. This is serious: 60 percent of workplace distractions come from email and social networking, and 14 percent of workers say they will tune out a meeting to Tweet or update their status on a social network.

Download your copy of the 14 Smart Inside Sales Trends in 2014 report and stay ahead of today’s rapidly changing Sales 2.0 trends.

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How to Move Up in Your Organization: 4 Tips from Legendary Leaders

If you’re interested in moving up to a higher position in your organization, prove you can think strategically — beyond quota — toward the good of the company as a whole. Use these tips to get started.

Bill Walsh leadership Find effective strategies. Vision is great, but if you cannot find a way to connect to it from the current reality, it’s useless. One leader who has been able to bring the imaginary to the realm of reality is football legend Bill Walsh. The legendary coach led his teams to amazing NFC division championships and NFC titles and earned a spot in the NFL Football Hall of Fame. One of his many strengths was as an offensive coach, constantly reading the field and creating strategies that would maximize his players’ skills and exploit the weaknesses of their opponents.

Tip 1: Strategy is something that’s refined every day, one battle at a time. Just as Walsh had to look at each season’s team and each week’s opponent anew, salespeople need to evaluate each customer and each competitor on an individual basis and create a plan to address each unique situation. What worked yesterday or last month may not work tomorrow.

Ronald Reagan leadership Be a great communicator. The key to communicating is connecting with the audience. Former President Ronald Reagan was so well known for his ability to reach the American people that he earned the nickname, “The Great Communicator.” He didn’t use fancy language or rhetoric to win people over; in fact, it was the very simplicity of his style, coupled with his humor, which made him so popular. A senior leader’s job is to communicate corporate goals to employees and motivate them to achieve those goals.

Tip 2: When you have something to say, say it in the simplest way possible. Save the fancy verbal footwork and piles of data for the engineering team, and stick to word pictures and vivid descriptions. Finally, remember Reagan’s advice: “Facts are stupid things.”

Meg Whitman leadership Listen. Sharing information is one skill; collecting information is another, equally valuable skill. And the queen of listening very well may be Meg Whitman, who is known for her humility and passion for listening to both her customers and employees.

“When you’re trained in an MBA program or in most businesses, you use the words, ‘Drive, push, go after,’ and it’s not that way here. Here, you have to use the community of users to chart the course of the company. You can’t direct them to do much of anything,” Whitman told CBS MarketWatch.

Tip 3: As a “trusted advisor,” it’s natural to want to share your expertise with your customers. But too much talking and not enough listening is a sure formula for alienating your clients. Take a tip from Whitman and commit to listening to what your customers are saying. Ask them what’s important, what they worry about, and what would make their life easier – even if it’s outside your typical scope. What better way to become a trusted partner than by solving problems your customer never even knew existed.

Jack Welch leadership Be inspirational. If there is one skill that can make up for a multitude of sins in other areas, it just might be the ability to inspire. People want to be a part of something great, something larger than themselves. Just ask business legend, former General Electric CEO Jack Welch. Known for his passion, commitment, and sense of fun, Welch led by example and took pride in his ability to develop his people. He regularly rewarded the highest performers (and cut the bottom feeders), thereby encouraging workers to make it to the top. “Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act,” Welch has said.

Tip 4: Unless you inspire others to act, you are a team of one. The more you can inspire your team members to be the best they can be, the further your reach as a leader. Says Welch, “If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings and put compensation as a carrier behind it, you almost don’t have to manage them.”

Any of these legendary leaders would be sure to tell you that it doesn’t matter where your box falls on the organizational chart: Leaders can be found anywhere in the organization.

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Can Average Sales Performers Ever Be Rock Stars?

By Duncan Lennox

ID-100214811_bplanetWhenever I have conversations with senior executives or CEOs about driving sales performance, there’s a tendency to focus on the “rock stars,” that relatively small group of high performers. Frequently, they are described as “natural salespeople,” good at building empathy and establishing relationships and having a nose for qualifying prospects and getting deals done. Almost without exception, these gifted salespeople cannot tell you how they do it – they just do.

In many disciplines, significantly above-average performers are not simply a little better than average ones but much better. This leads to the false belief that, if we can just hire more of those folks, our numbers will skyrocket.

But there are two problems with this belief: the big problem is the assumption that you could articulate what makes an “A” player and know how to identify those characteristics in candidates you screen or interview. The really big problem is hiring rock stars at scale. Most of them (who don’t work for you already) are making lots of money somewhere else and probably not eager to apply for your open positions.

With barely 2 percent of most sales teams reaching the upper echelons of quota achievement, throwing more rock stars into the mix has the potential to extend quota attainment by roughly 15 percent at best – certainly not enough to deliver on markedly higher revenue targets. So the question remains: wouldn’t we get much more bang for our buck by using sales-enablement programs to help the people we already have be more effective – in other words, coaching and cultivating those average performers to be more like the sales stars?

If your organization is like most, the general approach to boosting sales performance might include such words as “training” or “learning.” Yet these are processes, not results, and more often than we care to admit, they fail to move the needle. The real goal must be to change behavior.

The path to doing this successfully begins with the acknowledgement that sales reps are people, and people, of course, are complex. People possess ingrained behavior, and changing that behavior – equipping sales reps to win – doesn’t happen via PowerPoint presentation in your local hotel’s meeting room.

To reduce the likelihood of employing “sales airheads” (aptly described in an earlier Selling Power blog) and replicate the productivity of top performers, sales executives must first understand the biological mechanisms of how memories and patterns are formed in the brain and then design a sales-effectiveness program that actively supports that process. While this may sound very academic, a team of researchers at Harvard has clinically proven that this approach boosts performance and builds the level of competency required to connect with customers and close deals. The key is two-fold:

  1. understanding, with data-driven insight, where individuals are today (what they know and don’t know and their strengths and weaknesses) and
  2. having a method that embraces three key elements to scale: simplicity, convenience, and motivation.

Oracle’s experience bears this out. Changing average sales reps into rock-star reps is simply a matter of changing their behavior. Oracle’s Business Brain Program introduces thousands of reps to successively more advanced thinking topics, so they don’t simply regurgitate product information but sell in context.

A company called BrainStudio put this program together for Oracle using Qstream, a mobile, game-driven sales enablement platform from my company. The platform pushes out personalized question streams made up of simple yet thoughtful scenario-based challenges, which take up only a few minutes a day using any mobile device. The program combines social-recognition elements, such as leaderboards, to leverage reps’ inherent competitive nature while keeping them highly engaged in what otherwise might be viewed as just another training requirement.

Through repetition over small periods of time, reps retain key messages and selling skills. What’s more, results are delivered to sales executives – not to flog the reps but to identify highly targeted coaching opportunities to ensure that every rep on the team is well prepared to sell with insight into the customer’s world.

Increasing sales revenue is a common goal, but some organizations end up looking in the wrong places. Instead of gimmicks, recruiters, and obsessive automation, it’s time we look within and honor our own people as the best path to achieving success.  How many rock stars could you develop this year?

Kevin Warren
Duncan Lennox is CEO and Cofounder of Qstream. Email him at info@qstream.com
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Why Great Leaders Seem Crazy

All great leaders share a vision for success. Sometimes, that vision can be so new, radical, or unique that others call them crazy.

Steve Jobs famously made Apple’s slogan “Think Different,” in the late 1990s. As the television commercial said, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Ask for a leadership success story from the dot-com craze, and Amazon is sure to come to mind. Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of the ultimate in one-stop online shopping, is almost synonymous with the Internet. But the dream did not start out that big. In 1994, Bezos gave up his job as a VP of a New York investment firm, packed up a used car, and moved to Seattle with his new wife and a vision – to start an online business selling books.

Of course, the idea was wacky. Of course, everyone told him he was nuts. Of course, he faced many obstacles along the way – and of course, he overcame them all. What carried him through the tough times was his clarity of purpose, his vision of what Amazon.com could be. “I knew that if I failed, I wouldn’t regret that,” he’s quoted as saying. “But I knew the one thing I might regret was not trying.”

If you want to be a great leader, know what you are trying to accomplish with vivid clarity. The more real you can make your vision, the easier it is to share it with others and convince them to come along.

This is especially true if you are asking your clients to take a leap of faith toward an unknown solution that you know will pay off for them. Paint a detailed, accurate vision, and they won’t be able to resist.

What are some of your greatest leadership lessons? Share your thoughts in the comments section. 

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How the Best Execs Get to the Top: Q&A with Joe Nocera

Joe Nocera New York TimesThey make friends. They hire smart. They take the hits. For New York Times business columnist Joe Nocera, who has written about the Buffetts, Eisners, and Trumps of the business world for more than 25 years, a few leadership qualities stand out. In this interview, he talks with Selling Power about the road to the top – and how the best execs stay there.

Selling Power (SP): What’s the different between a good CEO and a bad CEO?

Nocera: The thing a good CEO has, more than a bad CEO has, is emotional intelligence. I know that sounds soft and squishy, but all these guys know how to deal with balance sheets and income statements. They can make the trains arrive on time. But emotional intelligence is important for a number of reasons. Number one, in a modern age, you can’t just tell people to go do something and expect them to do it. So the force of your personality – the way you try to get things done – is as important as what you are trying to get done.

The second reason is that the CEOs are on such a short leash, vis-à-vis Wall Street, these days. To me the subprime disaster is [like] every other thing that I have ever covered in my life, starting with real estate in Texas in the eighties during the oil bubble, and then on to the Massachusetts Miracle in Massachusetts, and then on to the Internet bubble and the housing bubble; they’re all the same. Basically, [the situation] starts slowly, and then people start to lose their heads and think that they can never go down, and then they start to do dumb things. Banks just lend too much money, standards get lower, and people find some technique and drive it into the ground. [These techniques] probably start as good things and wind up as bad things, which was the case with subprime mortgages, and on and on and on. These things just seem to take on a life of their own and collapse of their own volition. And that’s what’s happened here. It’s happened time and time again.

SP: So emotional intelligence can help a leader navigate through the turmoil?

Nocera: A CEO who is comfortable in his or her own skin, is likeable, and who knows how to be decisive without being rude or arrogant buys more wiggle room. He or she has more allies. The example I use on the negative side is Bob Nardelli [former CEO of The Home Depot]. The stock went down, but if you look at the numbers, almost every metric went up while he was the CEO. Yet when he missteps, he has no allies, he has no friends, and he is basically out of the company.

Emotional intelligence is a quiet charisma, the ability to lead without seeming to lead. These leaders have the ability to make a decision that may be unpopular and not piss everybody off. They listen. They aren’t afraid of criticism. They’re not overly defensive. They’re not afraid of hiring people smarter than they are. Those sorts of skills in dealing with the executives who report to them make the crucial difference between a good CEO and a bad CEO.

SP: And the bad CEOs – are they just the opposite?

Nocera: Yes, they are. When you think about the 1950s and 1960s, when American companies ruled the world, we had a generation of employees who had been through the Great Depression and World War II. They came back from the war, and all they wanted was a nice, secure job. They were organization people. The boss could tell them anything. They just wanted to know how high to jump. So you could be more high-handed and dictatorial.

Today, employees don’t have the same loyalty to corporations. They have a lot more options. They don’t expect the company to protect them for the rest of their lives. They don’t expect to be at the company for the rest of their lives. I remember Fortune used to do a cover story called, “The Meanest Bosses in America.” And those guys were really well-known figures in business, like Bob Crandall at American Airlines. You could be that kind of boss back then, but you can’t be that kind of boss today because you’ll just get washed out. Today, the paradigmatic great boss is somebody like Herb Kelleher, who really cares a lot about his employees and is completely beloved and is also [the head of a company that is] on record as the only airline to make a profit.

SP: Do you think there’s a difference in the way that the public or employees judge their leaders and what they expect from them?

Nocera: I think there’s a huge difference. I think employees want to be passionate about their jobs. They want their job to feel that it has some larger moral value. And that is why so many companies are getting into the environment or doing corporate social responsibility stuff. Employees want to feel like they’re different thinkers. They don’t want to feel like cogs in a machine. They want someone to listen to them – maybe not the CEO, but certainly the immediate superior. So you have to have a culture of trust, a culture that respects the employees. Employees want to know that, when things are bad, the leader is taking a hit along with everyone else and not gorging himself or herself on options and salary when everybody else is suffering – that there is some sense of shared sacrifice.

SP: What do you think the job description of a leader is going to look like down the road?

Nocera: That’s a tough one. We’re in this era now when the baby boomers are preparing to retire. We’re going to get a whole new generation of middle and upper management that is younger and maybe has a different set of values from baby boomers. It’s hard for me to say what kind of leadership will command its respect. The next generation of CEOs is going to have to be people who can adapt to those new expectations.

Joe Nocera is author of Good Guys & Bad Guys: Behind the Scenes with the Saints and Scoundrels of American Business (And Everything in Between)

 

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Your Brand Is Not Your Business Card: Empower a Winning Sales Culture

By Kevin Warren, president of strategic growth initiatives at Xerox. Meet him on March 10 at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia, where he will share more insight about sales-leadership success and personal brands.

Jay-Z is one of my favorite performers, and he knows a thing or two about success. One line I borrow from him regularly is “I’m not a businessman…I’m a business, man!”

What does he mean? He’s saying that when you hand your business card to a sales prospect, unless it reads “CEO of Me Inc.,” it’s not your brand. You are your brand. Prospects and clients don’t buy the name of the business on the card, they buy you.

It’s a simple concept and a powerful opportunity, especially in an increasingly complex and digital world. We know our clients and prospects are bombarded with many options. Competition is fierce. But at the end of the day, people make decisions and surrender long-term loyalty based on interaction with other people. According to McKinsey’s 2012 B2B Branding Survey, personal interaction with sales reps remains the most influential factor for B2B customers across touch points, industries, and regions.

When you’re empowered to be CEO of Me Inc., there’s a tremendous impact on the overall business. Interaction with customers becomes more meaningful, the corporate brand becomes more human, and that focus on customers starts impacting the bottom line. By making a customer or prospect a believer in your personal brand, you’re giving your product and services portfolio exponentially more value.

You likely have an elevator speech for the products and services you’re selling, so why not create one for you? If you’ve taken time to evaluate what you stand for and where you should be focused, your prospects are much more likely to feel confident that you can help them do the same. People buy from those they know, trust, and like. By genuinely sharing who you are and what you know, you quickly become someone from whom they’ll buy, someone who helps connect them to what they need to successfully reach their own goals.

Even something as simple as highlighting general business advice or flagging relevant industry articles (via LinkedIn, other social media, or in person) creates an opportunity to share more of your portfolio and ultimately sell more, because you’ve appealed to what really matters to the client’s business. This kind of proactive value-adding is unique to you and your ever-evolving brand. Leveraging your personal and business experiences and industry expertise to show customers what they might not be thinking about or to ask questions they might not have considered is key to earning loyalty, advocacy, and even referrals.

Success as CEO of Me Inc. doesn’t just happen; it is the outcome of a formula that works, one that is evolving as digital and social change the game. But the foundation holds fast. We may not close deals anymore by knocking on doors or dialing for dollars, but at the end of the day – at the end of the business exchange – there is a person, and that person is going to choose your brand only if he or she chooses you.

Join me at the Sales 2.0 Conference in Philadelphia on March 10, where I’ll be speaking about sales-leadership success, your personal brand, and sales-transformation strategies.

Kevin Warren
Kevin M. Warren is president of strategic growth initiatives for Xerox Corporation and is responsible nationwide for revenue, profit, and operations for all Xerox business in large enterprises. He’s led an aggressive transformation initiative in which he melded two operations into one high-performing organization.
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