Today on the Catapulting Commissions podcast, Anthony is sitting down with Nigel Green, a consultant, author, and advisor who is widely regarded as the leading authority on building high-performing sales teams. He helps sales teams with large sales goals overcome underperformance to create consistent sales growth by utilizing his effective seven sales leadership principles. This week, he’s breaking down what it takes to demonstrate genuine sales leadership.
Our episode starts off with a bang. A tactic Nigel uses once a year with his team may seem extraordinary, but there’s a method to the madness. He suggests inviting your sales team to interview elsewhere every year. If they leave, then great–you did your job as a sales leader to further progress your team’s professional goals. For those who stay, there is a renewed sense of purpose and are reminded why they decided to work with you. This allows your team to focus on the tasks at hand. If you’re doing your job as a sales leader, you’re prepared to replace those who leave. This tactic is reliant on the understanding that your team knows you want the best for them. If you’re just checking boxes, you’ll have a mass resignation. Do the work and know what’s going on in their lives. Hire a team of sales reps and ensure the chemistry is there ahead of time before committing to the tactic.
It’s not management, it’s leadership. We’ve got the CRM in place to manage. It’s your job to recruit, retain, and develop. The sales narrative and the strategic narrative are very different. The strategic narrative is where the CEO sees the business going, but the sales narrative falls in your lap, and it’s shorter-sighted. Create space in your schedule to work with your team to think about how you need to pivot to serve your area. It’s not just hitting monthly targets–it’s the value you bring to bring a competitive edge to the marketplace.
There will be situations where sales reps have the mentality “I’ve hit my metrics, leave me alone.” We accept it because we’re handcuffed by top-performers who carry the team and end up making excuses or fixing problems that arise as a result of their attitude towards growth. It falls on you as a leader–you chose to keep them. You’ve got to have a plan that doesn’t just reward attainment exclusively. Move the incentive–yes, revenue is important, but if you aren’t doing other important things, then you aren’t getting the full benefit of the compensation plan. Imagine if Tom Brady told his team he was going to skip practice. It doesn’t matter that he’s a top performer, but it feels wrong. He’s not bigger than the team and the coach. It’s no different in sales.
Nigel has learned a lot about sales from an unexpected place–farmers. He noticed that despite all the uncontrollable variables–weather, temperature, product price, soil health–they produce their goods day-in, day-out. And if they don’t, they don’t consider themselves a farmer. The harvest comes from 7 careful steps being taken: planning, positioning, preparing, planting, tending, harvesting, and restoration. These principles allow them to hit the number. Nigel took those principles and overlaid them on the sales year. Positioning is crucial–it’s more than having a good plan that looks good on a spreadsheet. If it’s not positioned well, it won’t be executed. You have to do a good job of anchoring the mission to the purpose and allow the outcomes to be important to your team as much as it is important to the company. Also important is restoration–this is about bringing something back to its original state. It’s about stopping, training, and working on something that will make your team better for the next season.