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4 Core Skills Leaders Needs to be Successful at Any Level of Management

August 14th, 2014

It’s a common notion to believe that leaders at different levels should have a different set of skills. However, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman of the leadership development consultancy Zenger Folkman write in Harvard Business Review that leaders should be practicing the same core skills that have driven them from their first day in the workforce, no matter how high they rank.

Zenger Folkman surveyed over 330,000 supervisors, middle managers, senior managers, and top executives asking what skills leaders need to be successful in the position they currently held. Rather than finding different sets of core competencies for each level of management, the data showed an interesting consistency about which skills were perceived as most important for first-time managers to top executives and every level in between. These essential fundamental leadership skills included:

  • Inspires and motivates others
  • Displays high integrity and honesty
  • Solves problems and analyzes issues
  • Drives for results

How can you demonstrate these skills at every level of management? Here are a few tips that Sandler recommends to help you improve each one of the leadership skills that matter most.

Leadership skill #1: Inspires and motivates others

While being self-motivated is one of the top traits of a successful employee, there are a number of things you, as a leader, can do to keep your employees and team motived and inspired.

  • Set small milestones. Everyone loves achieving goals and celebrating success. Set milestones that can be reached and highlight your team’s success when they reach a new milestone.
  • Focus on purpose, not just profit. Teams and individual employees are inspired knowing that their hard work has a greater impact than profitability alone. Look beyond the obvious and create a wider reaching impact that extends into a community and influences social causes.
  • Say thanks. People like to feel appreciated. So, why not send a quick thank you email to your team and CC your boss? Saying ‘thank you’ is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to show your team that you are a great leader.

Leadership skill #2: Displays high integrity and honesty

  • Share information. Long management meetings are bound to stir up some nervous emotions among your team. Communicate as much news as you can, so your employees’ minds don’t wander.
  • Give feedback. Whether it’s good, bad, or ugly, clear and constructive feedback is necessary. Providing feedback is essential in making your team as productive as possible, so give it as often as you can

Leadership skill #3: Solves problems and analyzes issues

  • Remove obstacles. Bureaucracy often suppresses creativity and innovation. If you can, cut out unnecessary paperwork and look for ways to streamline processes to make it easier for your team to succeed.
  • Be ready to teach.  While simply giving instructions will work for some, it may not work for all employees on your team. Some employees may be too nervous to ask you for help if they don’t understand a problem. Show that you are happy and willing to teach, instruct, and assist to help them solve the problem at hand.

Leadership skill #4: Drives for results

  • Empower through delegation. Delegate tasks among your team and delegate to give yourself time to complete tasks more appropriate for your level of management.
  • Raise your hand and lead by example. When your team sees you putting in extra hours and offering to help out, they will be more inclined to jump in and follow your lead. Next time a project needs additional attention, volunteer to pitch in and help.
  • Solve, don’t just sell. Rather than selling your employees about why they need to perform better, inspire employee performance by connecting the dots of your team’s efforts. Demonstrate how your team’s work and the work of their contributors solves problems in conjunction.

Effectively managing and leading a team can be challenging, but understanding the most important leadership skills will help you focus your attention on what matters most.  What are some of the ways you demonstrate your leadership skills to your team? Do you think these 4 skills are the most important in your organization? Let us know with a comment below.


What it means to be a top sales training company

March 12th, 2014

People make buying decisions emotionally and justify those decisions intellectually – Sandler Principle 6

There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not reminded of this Principle and how it applies to our business at Sandler Training. Since 1967, we have been a part of the success path for thousands of businesses. Each year our trainers spend more than 90,000 hours training small, medium and Fortune-ranked sales teams. We’ve helped shape futures, changed lives and encouraged sales professionals to be their best self when in the field. To me, it’s humbling to know that our clients choose to work with us every day.

For the fifth year in a row, Sandler Training has been named one of Training Industry’s Top 20 Sales Training Companies. Each year, the Top 20 companies are selected based on their innovation in the sales training market; company size and growth potential; breadth of service offering; strength of clients served and a company’s geographic reach. When I look at that list, I see the power of Sandler Training’s associates and trainers.
Sandler Training is made up of a team of dedicated, strategic and motivated professionals. At every level, there is a thirst for knowledge and desire to help.

It’s an honor to be recognized as a top sales company – and for me, it’s equally an honor to work with the Sandler Training team and have the chance to help our clients grow.

I dedicate this, and every other award Sandler receives, to each of our associates, trainers and clients who keep Sandler Training going strong and leading the way in sales training.

By: Dave Mattson


How to Prepare for Departing Clients

March 4th, 2014

Nothing lasts forever, right? While it may seem pessimistic, having a plan for dealing with a client’s departure is sound advice when it comes to maintaining business and clients. We spend so much time building solid, trusting relationships with clients that it can come as quite a blow when news hits that your client contact announces they’re leaving their current position.

Before we get into tactics to employ to make this scenario less devastating, it’s important to operate under the assumption that our ‘in’ could easily be out at any given moment.

Prevent “scramble mode” from setting in by implementing some of the best practices we recommend to our clients.

1. Take stock of your current portfolio. Pull an organizational chart for each of your biggest clients and circle the names of those people with whom you have forged a close relationship. These are people who have seen the quality and level of service you have provided over the course of your time liaising with the client.

2. Count your circles – then grow your circles. More than likely, you don’t have as many circles as you’d like to have. Work to build relationships with those you’ve supported in some way or had contact with during your time working with the company. Schedule a lunch or coffee to identify common interests and gain better understanding of their focus areas in their position.

3. Document – every step of the way. If we’re always documenting, re-capping and following up digitally, then no tribal knowledge will be lost if our main point of contact leaves unexpectedly. It’s easy to fall into thinking that you and a client have an understanding, but it’s best to not leave all your good work to good faith. Doing this means there will be no questions when there’s evidence to support the work.

4. Ask for an introduction to the new contact. In a perfect world, introduction to the new client will be accompanied by a glowing recommendation, proof of your ROI and endless stories of your strategic support. So, if given the opportunity, ask your departing client for their help making a seamless transition.

5.Remember “New Person Syndrome.” We all want to be known for something, and this rings true when clients step into a new role. Some clients will choose to bring in someone they’ve worked with before, while others may continue to work with you and raise the bar.

6. Get to know your new client. Familiarize yourself with your new client by learning about what drives them, and not by telling them what you do. More than likely, they already know you’ve been successful in your role – now they just need to know they can trust you.

7. Ask for a meeting of the minds. This is where all of those circles will come in handy. Position the meeting as an opportunity to bring the new client up to speed by bringing together all your contacts for an account review. This goes against the grain because so many professionals fear the tough questions account reviews can bring on. But asking for the meeting displays confidence; demonstrates your commitment to the company; highlights your services; and will show the deep, trusting relationships you have within the organization.

8. Let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve followed these tips and the new client still decides to go in a different direction, the best advice to follow is to end on good terms, stay in touch and learn from the experience.

So tell me – are you taking any of these steps already?

By: Dave Mattson, CEO and President of Sandler Training


How Much Time Should You Put into Prospecting?

December 19th, 2013

The question is a bit of a puzzle. Ideally, there would be a reference book that lists, by industry, how much time you should invest in prospecting activities. Unfortunately, there’s no reference book.

Why?

How much time you invest will depend on the number of prospecting activities you plan, the nature of the activities, and the intended results of the activities.

More importantly, different salespeople have different goals, and these goals will necessitate different amounts of time prospecting. Introducing a new product or opening a new territory may take more time than continuing to cultivate an existing market where you already have exposure.

If your efforts are primarily passive, where you have little if any control of the outcome—direct mail or e-mail for example—you will likely have to do more and it will take longer to see results. If your efforts are more proactive, where you have considerable control—cold prospecting or generating and then calling on referrals for instance—you can invest less time.

Since there is no simple formula, you must consider your prospecting objectives and then carefully track your activities and results. Then, you can decide how much time you want to invest and choose the activities that will allow you to achieve your objectives in that time period.


The 89-Cent Solution

December 12th, 2013

How often have you been sitting in the car after a sales call, and you thought of something you should have done that would have been more appropriate than what you just did?

“I shoulda said…,” “I shoulda asked…,” “I shoulda…,” “I shoulda…,” “I shoulda…”

You make a mental note of the shouldas…and then what?

Nothing!

With everything else that goes on during the day, your shouldas become a distant memory—lessons that could have been learned, but were lost instead.

Invest 89 cents on a spiral notebook and keep it on the seat of the car. Draw a line down the center of each page. Label the left side: The Prospect Said/Asked/Did. Label the right side: I Should Have Said/Asked/Done. The next time you have an impromptu debrief in the car, record the prospect’s action along with your shouldas. Don’t record what you did: record what you should have done. (The purpose of the journal is to reinforce good behavior, not remind you of poor behavior.) If you’re not sure what a more appropriate behavior would be, consult with your sales manager or a fellow salesperson at a later time. You won’t have to rely on your memory for an accurate description of the event: it will be recorded in your notebook.

So, the next time you think, “I shoulda…,” write it down. An 89 cent investment and a few minutes of your time will return big dividends in the form of improved performance and increased sales.


The Toughest Prospect to Sell

December 5th, 2013

When is the toughest prospect to sell the easiest prospect to sell?

Give up?

The answer is simple: when you call on him.

Some buyers acquire a reputation for being tough, overbearing, demanding—just plain impossible to deal with. And guess what? Salespeople stop calling on them. Why put themselves through the abuse? Why endure the indignity? Why indeed, you may be thinking.

Why not? They have to buy products and services from someone. It might as well be you. A prospect may be demanding, discourteous, and disrespectful. However, beneath the gruff exterior, there is a human being capable of listening, evaluating, and making decisions—buying decisions.

Remember, you too have an exterior—your salesperson persona. When you call on the impossible prospect and he “attacks” you, it’s only your persona he is attacking. So allow your persona to don an invisible suit of armor. When you call on Mr. Crotchety, you’re Sir Lancelot. Nothing he hurls at you can hurt you. You’re protected. Sure, you armor may get dented, but the order in hand will have made it worthwhile.


Use your thirty-second commercial in your LinkedIn® profile

November 29th, 2013

Prepare a digital version of your 30-Second Commercial…and include that text in your LinkedIn profile. (tweet this!)

The main thing to remember about LinkedIn is this: It is a huge, never-ending, virtual networking event, and you have to be ready with the right response to “What do you do?” (tweet this!) Your 30–second commercial is the answer to that question, as told from the point of view of a PROSPECT IN PAIN who eventually TURNED INTO YOUR HAPPY CUSTOMER. Why not include it on your LinkedIn profile page?

So for instance: “We specialize in custom-designed inventory management systems for manufacturing and distribution operations. We’ve been particularly successful with companies in the X, Y, and Z industries that are concerned about the costs associated with inaccurate inventory counts, unhappy with frequent paperwork bottlenecks that slow down the fulfillment process, or disappointed by the amount of time it takes to reconcile purchasing, invoicing, and shipping records. We’ve been able to create hand-in-glove inventory management systems that help our customers save time, attention, and money.”

If something like this isn’t on your LinkedIn profile, you’re at a competitive disadvantage.
For the complete list of TEN WAYS YOU CAN USE LINKEDIN TO PROSPECT MORE EFFECTIVELY, click here.


Blockbuster or flop?

November 14th, 2013

How does a screenwriter create one movie that’s a box office blockbuster and another that’s a flop? How does a playwright write one play that runs continuously for years and another that opens and closes in the same night? How does an author write one novel that’s a number one best seller for 26 weeks straight and another that never makes the best-seller list?

How?

The same way. They put their heart and soul into their work. Into each project, they develop a formula, establish a rhythm, and have the drive to see it through to the end. They try their best and then they try again—on the next project and the one after that. And, along the way, some projects stand out, and some don’t.

Selling isn’t any different. Some sales calls will be victories and some will be defeats. The important thing to remember is that you must also have a formula, establish a rhythm, and have the determination to see it through. You must approach each opportunity as if it’s your next blockbuster, your number one on the top ten list. You work your formula, maintain your rhythm, and give it your all.

You’ll have some winners. That’s great. You’ll have some losers. That’s OK. Learn a lesson and keep going—on to the next opportunity.