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The Future of Sales and Marketing

The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

2 Reasons Some Managers Can't Activate Their People

manager-leverWhy have a manager who cannot move their people to performance?

That would be useless, right?

But the reality in today’s business is there are too many managers who fit this description. Why is that? Why would a manager, despite his or her best effort, be unable to activate their people? There are two primary reasons, and they have an interactive relationship with each other:

1. The Manager Doesn’t Have a Lever (a Powerful Relationship)

Lots of managers have a friendly, or at least cordial, relationship with their people. But not what we call a robust relationship. A robust relationship is one that’s useful to the manager wishing to improve the salesperson’s performance, and, therefore, the organization’s performance. It’s a relationship that gives the manager the power to accomplish this essential aspect of his or her job.

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Topics: Management, leadership

How to Spot a Future Leader

spilled-candy-future-leaderI have been enjoying short stories from Twitter lately. The latest comes from Sean Hill, @veryshortstory.

I love this story:

Jack threw a piece of candy on the floor and watched his three children fight for it. The winner was groomed to protect Jack as he grew old.

Over the last few years, I have been helping one particular client completely transform their sales department. The change has been challenging to many in the organization. Some didn’t make it. Many of those who did make it struggled at first, and even after some time, they only embraced the change as much as necessary. But one person on the team embraced the change wholeheartedly. He was able to thrive—and even helped others on the team get on board.

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Topics: Management, leadership

When was the Last Time You Admitted Ignorance?

admit-when-you-dont-knowIf it’s been a long time since you admitted ignorance, you might want to be worried. I was talking to a client the other day asking questions about their plans for sales enablement and he said he had to admit his ignorance on the topic.

Wow. How refreshing. You have to be smart and confident to admit ignorance. Get the irony? That made me stop and try to remember when the last time was that I was willing and able to admit ignorance. I hope you stop and do the same now.

If you have not had this experience lately, you probably fall into one of two camps:

  1. You’re not challengednot talking to enough smart people or reading interesting books and articles.

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Topics: leadership

Next Time, Try a Little Gratitude

try-a-little-gratitudeI heap a lot of praise on my kids. I point out when they do something I haven’t asked them to do, and I make a big deal about it. When they are extra helpful, I heap it on even more. Sometimes I wonder if they hear me because they may or may not even say thanks. And I’m okay with that. 

The other day I asked my 12-year-old son to take out the garbage, and when he came back in the house, I said to him “I want you to know, I really appreciate you.” And he stopped and said “Mom, I like it when you tell me that.” I was taken aback. I pointed out that I give him lots of praise, and he said it was something about the words “I appreciate you.”

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Topics: Management, leadership

What’s Your Company’s Reason for Being?

companys-mission-statementCan you complete this statement? We exist to…

If you run your company or a business unit, or even just a sales team, there is surprising value in completing that statement—it helps define your reason for being. I have experienced first-hand the benefit that comes from knowing our reason for being. Here’s how we complete the statement at The Center for Sales Strategy:

We exist to turn talent into performance.

It wasn’t a forgone conclusion that we would define our corporate purpose in that way. We considered other possibilities. We could have said we exist to help companies hire the best people and train them well. Or, we exist to help companies increase sales. Both would have been pretty good, but not as good as the one we landed on. Our final choice got to the essence of who we are, what our passion is, and the greatest value we deliver.

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Topics: Management, leadership

You Can Smell a Good Leader a Mile Away

smell-a-good-leader-a-mile-away"Shepherds ought to smell like sheep."

-Allan Taylor

That’s one of those quotations that slows you down and makes you think. It got me thinking about how important it is for sales managers to be in the field with their people. Sales managers ought to smell more like the funky field than the sterile office. 

It’s tempting to want to continually shut your door, block out distractions, and catch up on email and paperwork (it’s probably time to start calling this screen work, don’t you think?). Yes, there are times where you need to stop down and do some of that. But if you want to be a good leader and stay connected to your people and their work, to encourage best practices, and to spot opportunities for skill improvement, you need to get out there!

Get Out in The Field

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Topics: Management, leadership

What Redemption Looks Like for the Beleaguered Sales Manager

what-redemption-looks-like-for-a-sales-managerWith the great religious holidays about redemption—Easter and Passover—both happening this weekend, we thought it would be fun to think about what redemption might be like for an earnest, hard-working sales manager. This is the manager who works his or her butt off to get it right, but life being what it is, still has plenty of near-misses and disappointing outcomes.

When that redemption day finally arrives at the sales manager’s office, it might look like this:

  1. Staff turnover is reduced to zero for one full year. No one quit, and no one needed to be sacked.
  2. An entire week goes by with no emergency emails after 6pm that “absolutely have to be dealt with right now.”
  3. A year of bliss in which the sales team makes budget in every category and on every line the company measures.
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Topics: Management, leadership

Leaders: Are You Hearing Problems? Are You Seeing Problems?

Great leaders don’t spend all their time-solving problems, but they’re smart about how to find problems and how to fix them. I see the best managers position themselves to hear problems and to see problems.

Hearing Problems


Hearing problems means being open to the problems your people bring you. If your people aren’t bringing you problems, that’s your meta- problem, or should I say your mega-problem! There are two explanations, and they’re both ugly: They think you cant help or you dont care. The can’t help scenario isn’t easily remedied, but the don’t care explanation is fixable. 

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Topics: Management, leadership

Is the Road Too Narrow or Are You Too Fat? Leadership from Twitter

road-too-narrowArjun Basu writes (very) short stories on Twitter. He calls them “Twisters.” You should follow him at @arjunbasu. Here’s one: 

The road narrowed. I said, Im too fat for this road. My wife laughed, but I was serious. I was not happy with my weight. Or the road itself. 

The road keeps changing, doesn’t it? In business, it seems as if at least half our roads are under construction or subject to detours—all at the same time. Has your road to success narrowed? Or are you just too fat to fit? Those are entirely different questions. Or should I say, those are entirely different ways of defining the problem or even of looking at the world. If you see the road as the problem, you let yourself off the hook—but you also condemn yourself to whatever the road has in store for travelers who are too fat for the new road. If you see yourself as the problem, even grudgingly (because you don’t have to love that new road to recognize it, acknowledge it, and deal with it), then success opens up for you.

Leadership Lessons from This Quote

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Topics: Management, leadership