A leader’s success or failure is dependent on the actions of those they lead. Good sales mangers understand that actions begin with attitude and motivate their team to direct their talents to selling and delivering effective solutions for their clients. The insights of military leaders often apply in business, which is why Sun Tzu’s Art of War is popular reading within the ranks of management.
Success or failure is a result of what people think, feel, and then do. Xenophon was an ancient Greek warrior and philosopher who observed that what soldiers think and feel will affect their actions.
Let’s look closer at three observations he made and how they apply to sales management:
- The soldiers have their eyes on the leader, and if they see that the leader is downhearted, they will become cowards.
This puts the onus right back on the boss. Your team is looking to you for cues to whether their goals are attainable, your product is of value to a prospect, or your company can deliver all that it promises. You are the weather vane of the department, and how you think, feel, and do, is the first (and possibly the greatest) influence on the team.
- There will be a great rise in the soldiers' spirits if you can change their minds from thinking about “What is going to happen to me?” to “What action am I going to take next?”
This is amazing advice for work and life in general. It takes people out of the victim mindset and directs their “think and feel” to what they can actually do in each situation. An important thing for you to provide is knowing the next step they can take to achieve their goals.
- Those whose primary aim is to stay alive usually die a dishonorable death. Those who realize death is inevitable, make it their endeavor to die with honor, and often reach old age and live a happier life.
Since sales is fortunately not a life and death proposition, let’s think of this in terms of failure. Your salespeople need to accept the fact that they may fail, and get out there anyway. Your top salespeople already know this. They have overcome call reluctance, knowing that not every prospect is an ideal customer, and they take the risks necessary to get that first appointment. They have mastered the art of asking questions and are willing to probe for the real need and ask the tough questions about what success or failure for the client looks like.
As the leader, your team is looking to you for signs about the viability of your company’s mission. They need you to help them focus on the next action they can take to control their own destiny. And finally they need you to encourage them to take action and be willing to fail on the way to success.