You may be leading a team of sales people, but are you really influencing them? No doubt you've got all the targets pinned to the wall, you're working hard to get them to go the extra mile, strive for success and exceed their targets. But, are you influencing, or simply cajoling them to make the next call?
In my book, 'Influential Leadership: A Leader's Guide to Getting Things Done', I talk a great deal
about making progress, developing purpose, and cultivating passion. In my research, I found that a great deal of leader "time" is spent simply making progress on today's targets. Their purpose as a leader often doesn't stretch far beyond today. Tomorrow's targets are generally tomorrow's problem. Just being in the position of leader doesn't make you a leader.
To really be the leader, you have to influence your people way beyond the here and now. Influential leaders are able to stretch their purpose out towards the 3-5+ year horizon. They are able to reach into the future, grab hold of a vague vision, and bring it back into the present with a clarity that commands attention. Because of this, they are able to make far more progress towards far bigger goals, because they are able to inspire and motivate people to work towards something big and bold.
If you want to be an influential sales leader:
1. Make sure you are doing your day job first. This years' targets still have to be met, and failing to achieve them could get you fired. So begin by getting your house in order. To do this, you need to begin by influencing your team to get their own targets and progress moving rapidly in the right direction. Make sure you can (all) get ahead enough to create some time for the next step. Don't waste your time exceeding your targets now – that will come later.
2. Develop your leadership purpose into the longer term. Whatever your sales arena, make sure you can imagine how the future could look. What are the longer term opportunities? How are other players in your market positioning themselves for the future? What disruptive events could happen? The more you know about your arena, the more you will begin to see where you can go.
3. Create your vision. Based on what you can see, and what you've found out, what is your version of the future that you would like to shoot for? What will the world be like once your vision has been achieved? Developing clarity will help you later.
4. Socialise your purpose. Who will be able to make a contribution towards your progress? Don't settle with your team members, think broadly about the other stakeholders around your organisation, or in your market, who could have a positive impact on where you are going. Make sure and get them bought into what you are aiming for.
5. Galvanise support and create momentum. Don't forget the short term. Get your team working hard to take care of the current targets, and also striving for the future too. Once you get them excited about where you are all going, their effort and energy will build and increase the potential that you'll make rapid progress.
To be honest, the most influential leaders are those who are successfully able to navigate between hitting their targets today, and making progress towards a big future. Most people in leadership positions don't get far beyond today, but you can – all it takes is presence of mind, clarity of purpose and the sort of passion that borders on obsession.
By Colin Gautrey, Trainer, Executive Coach and Author of the Influence Blog and 'Influential Leadership: A Leader's Guide to Getting Things Done'. Over 10 years focused on helping people to become more influential in the world of work.