I know that you, as a sales leader, want to drive rapid, exponential sales growth that’s going to skyrocket your company. That’s why, I’m going to give you some ideas on how to do just that, based on the thoughts I presented recently at Lucidchart’s Visualize Summit for Sales. But first, I want you to think about these questions:
Have you ever had a negative thought in your mind about sales in your company?
Have you ever let any of those negative thoughts come out of your mouth?
I’d be surprised if you haven’t. We’re all human, and we all have negative thoughts now and again, but if you want to drive sales at your company, you need to understand how your mind works and how those negative thoughts can impact your sales team.
Think about all the things you’ve done right today. Even if you just woke up, you got out of bed, you ate breakfast, and you got yourself to work. If it’s later in the day, you probably coached your team members and led them to close some big deals.
But then you do one negative thing—maybe you spill coffee down your shirt or you’re late to an important meeting—and your brain focuses on that one negative thing.
Why? No other game is scored this way, but in the game of life, you can do 100 positive things, and one negative thing still wins. Dr. Rick Hanson said, “The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences, but Teflon for positive ones.”
It all starts with you
I’ve worked with clients who gave into negative thoughts about their sales team, using phrases like the following:
These salespeople don’t…
Why can’t they ever…
If they would only…
Maybe you’ve had similar thoughts. But the truth is that you have to stop complaining. If your salespeople suck, you have to fix it or fire them. It’s not about them—it’s about you.
That’s right. I said it. If you want to drive sales growth, you have to stop looking at your sales team and start looking at the ways you might be preventing your company from increasing sales. What are you willing to do to change?
If I gave you and your sales organization everything you needed to succeed in the way of skills and tools, it wouldn’t help much unless you have the right mindset—so let’s start by changing those negative thoughts.
Changing your mindset
One of my clients wanted to increase sales, so they hired me to train and coach their sales team. This team had the latest and greatest tools, but when I talked to the salespeople, I quickly noticed that their morale was low. Not only did they feel that their goals were impossible to meet, but they also felt unappreciated.
When they didn’t hit their numbers, their sales manager yelled at them. When they hit their numbers, their sales manager yelled at them some more, telling them that they could do even better. All the yelling and threatening wasn’t motivational.
Similarly, I was hired to train another sales team, and when I talked to that team, they said, “The owner and the sales manager doesn’t like us.” Leadership revealed to me that they didn’t like one person, but that attitude rubbed off on the rest of the team. The sales reps didn’t feel appreciated, and they didn’t think their manager trusted them to get work done because leadership wouldn’t let them work remotely.
What a huge disconnect!
Sales leadership in both examples may not think that they affect sales, but their attitude toward their teams had a significant effect. Are you getting in the way of sales in a similar way? If so, you’ll need to change your mindset if you want to drive growth.
First, think of the actions you take to keep a positive mindset in general:
- Do you get away from work occasionally and take a vacation?
- Do you take breaks during the workday?
- Do you meditate occasionally?
- Are you exercising daily?
- Are you kind to people? Do you give compliments?
- Do you smile throughout the day, especially when you interact with people?
These activities can really make a difference and keep you thinking positively. Next, you should analyze your thoughts. If you have negative thoughts such as “If only this company would…” or “Oh, Jim’s never going to make quota,” it’s time to flip the switch. You have to believe that your team has the ability to succeed and that you have the ability to lead them to success.
If you travel by airplane frequently, you’ll know this common phase as flight attendants explain how to use oxygen masks in case of an emergency: “Remember you put your mask on first before attempting to help others.” You need to believe in your team before they can believe in themselves and really drive that exponential growth. Once you have the right mindset, you’re ready for takeoff.
If you would like to read more about rewiring your brain to think more positively, I would highly recommend The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor or “How to Rewrite Your Brain for Positivity and Happiness” by Walter Chen.
Consider your skillset
Once you have looked at your mindset, you can focus on continually developing your skills as a sales leader. You can expand your skillset in several simple and inexpensive ways, such as reading books on sales management, attending training, working with a coach or mentor, or even asking your team for feedback
I highly recommend that you have a development plan. I build one for myself every year, keeping in mind what I’ve learned in the past year, what I want to learn next, and where my strengths and weaknesses lie. If you write down your plan, you will have it more cemented and ensure that you continue to develop yourself, instead of just hoping it will happen.
As you create your development plan, you might want to research what great sales leadership looks like today. For example, I found a Forbes article that listed the top qualities of a sales leader:
Ability to delegate
Ability to inspire
How do you stack up? If you feel that you’re lacking in one of these areas, look for resources to develop that skill and add it to your development plan.
Equip yourself with powerful tools
Finally, look at the tools you’re using. Are there any you need? Are there some that you don’t use to their full capability?
I would argue that your greatest tool is your personal brand and that you should strive to develop it online and offline. Share your vision with your team, with other company leaders, and on your LinkedIn profile. Even if you’re the business owner, be visible and available for your team. Be a connector and help introduce your team to other influencers.
All of this effort will help you:
- Draw the right people to your company.
- Connect with key accounts—if any of your salespeople leave, customers will know you just as well.
- Make connections that will benefit the entire company—your sales team may need you to introduce them to key decision makers on an account.
- Set an example for your sales team to build their brands as well.
If you want to drive sales growth at your company, it all starts with you. First, you must believe and develop the right mindset, and then you can build on that positivity with impactful skills and tools.