Sunday, June 19, 2016

Optimist, Pragmatism, and finding a path to success

Earlier today I was looking over ESPN's website for up to date news on tonight's Game 7 between Cleveland and Golden State. While on their site I clicked over to the MLB news to see what happened today with the Braves. I live in Atlanta, so at the time of this Post the ATL Braves are struggling through rebuilding, but have managed to win five (5) in a row, including a 2 game sweep of the Reds and a 3 game sweep of the Mets in NY. Somewhat sarcastically I put out a tweet that with this 5-game winning streak and Philadelphia having lost six (6) in a row, the ATL has gained 11 games on Philly and we're marching toward reaching 30 wins, the amount Philly has at this moment. The ATL is still 7 games behind Philly and 20+ games under .500 for the year.

Right after I sent the sarcastic tweet I began working the math for how the ATL will need to perform for the balance of the season to catch Washington for the Division lead or possibly climb into a Wild Card slot. While working the math I realized I was battling with the Optimist in me that wants my team(s) to succeed and the Pragmatist in me that knows some holes are too big to escape. Then I wondered if the tweet was really me being sarcastic, or just me looking for rays of sunshine. After all a 5-game streak of wins at any professional level is impressive (the other side is getting paid too).

The reality of wanting success and knowing that it is statistically improbable and your luck is better invested into lottery tickets is a challenging place to be for a sales person and their manager. The big deal doesn't come through or pushes itself to the right so far that there is no way it will come in on time to make the month, quarter, year (whatever your goal). So right away you start working the math on the balance of your/their funnel trying to find a patch to success.

I think you have to be both honest and optimistic about the possibility for achievement. You have to plan, prepare, work, be aggressive, be smart, and evaluate your plan constantly. Individual results are easy to fit into achieved/did-not-achieve categories, but what were the reasons for both. Sometimes luck swings both ways regardless of your planning, preparation, and effort. Knowing that your work and effort is the right work and effort can be the rays of sunshine (optimist) in the very real and unpleasant reality of your current success.

Good leaders need to recognize what is happening and adjust as needed. Good Sales Professionals need to do the same.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Planting Seeds for the Future

When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago and today. Twenty years ago for today's shade, and today for shade in the future.

Sales Professionals need to constantly have seeds/activities being planted within their Accounts, otherwise they will not have forests of Opportunity. Notice how I used the word "being" - I didn't say "they need to plant" - which implies this post is only about your SP's efforts. 

I believe your entire organization needs to plant seeds for the Sales Professional. I believe a company culture which includes the belief that everyone can help the company "grow" is a key element of success.

I worked in the commercial sector of my industry for years and often times some of the best leads came from the employees who were not SP's. Because our "staff" has lives outside of the office they interact with businesses who need your products and services. How are you utilizing and rewarding your entire organization for planting seeds?

Now, the harder question - how are you planting seeds for your SP's? If I accept the premise that I am responsible as a leader for each member of my team earning their year-end-bonus, then I must also accept the premise that I am responsible for planting seeds to help make this happen in the years to come. Even if the tree won't bear fruit for me.

Several years ago the Division within a large System Integrator I was working for got a new VP...let's call him John. He was great to work for, he helped me better understand my market segment and introduced me to individuals and company's with whom I had no business relationship. Today, eight years later I'm at another company and take business away from that SI because of the seeds John planted. For me, John will always be the best example of a seed planter and as I push forward with my goal of being a great Sales Leader what he did for me will always be the example of what I should do for my team. 

Happy Hunting - and remember, Nothing Happens Until Something Get's Sold!


Saturday, June 11, 2016


In the past three years I have started and abandoned two blogs on Sales Leadership. However this time I want the effort to hold true and for me to continue sharing my thoughts, ideas, and challenges around selling and leading sales teams. I think of myself as a Cover Band Sales Leader, because none of my suggestions are my "insights", but are instead the valuable insight of others. I have nothing new to say that has not already been said by many before me, I am adding my two-cents in a way that helps me better understand and use these terrific insights from others.

I believe it is relatively "simple" to be a successful sales person and a successful sales leader. I believe that most people have the attitude and aptitude necessary for a sales role. Anyone who has enabled a child to graduate from High School can be successful at sales. The same type of angst, pain, agony, follow-up, example setting, and repetition that was put use getting your daughter, son, niece, nephew, cousin, whoever through the drama, reverse courses, push-back, and challenges to your authority that make up the thirteen plus years of educating a child are about a normal week in a sales role.

My intention is to pontificate on others ideas, add some of my own insights, and occasionally disagree with something put forth as an absolute. Thank you for indulging me it, is an honor to have your attention, I promise not to squander your time.


What I told my Sales Team today - My Cousin Revitalized Central Park in NYC

My mother is an unintentional revisionist historian, which means she typically gets the gist of a story correct, but sometimes flips around ...