Insights from Chief Mastermind Jack Kelly

While a lot of companies make the mistake of promoting their best Sales Professional into a leadership role for the wrong reasons, promoting a top sales professional into leadership can work. The most important question to ask is:

Are they ready to go from a “me” focus to a “we” focus?

That is the ultimate question of anyone who is considering moving into a leadership position (sales or otherwise). They must be ready to throw “me” right out the window and understand their self-interest is secondary to the success of their team.

That is what you need from your Sales Leader. If you are looking to hire a Sales Leader or are a Sales Professional looking to move up. Here are some quick tips on what needs to happen:

  1. Don’t expect “them” to be “you.” This is the number one mistake most new leaders make. You assume everyone will become “mini-me’s” and think and execute like you do.
  2. Stop using the phrase “get ‘er done” when you have run out of useful things to say to your team when they are struggling. You asked for this job. Don’t be lazy. Be creative and thoughtful.
  3. Develop a coaching approach for each person on your team. That’s right, each person is different and requires a different approach. Still want the job? Over time, you will get really good at it. But at first, you need to work at it. This is where you realize that perhaps those personality profiles (DISC, Myers Briggs , Birkman, etc.) you did when you first started can come in handy!
  4. Get training. Get Sales Leadership training. Work with a coach internally or externally.
  5. If you send your team to training, go with them. Make sure you get the tools to help them after the training. Don’t make the mistake of believing you know everything already.
  6. Have one-on-ones regularly with your team. Do role playing. Do situational coaching. Let them drive the agenda, not you.
  7. Create an environment of trust. Your Sales Professionals need to feel safe to tell you anything and everything. Remember, honesty is expected but frankness is what we need to make progress.
  8. Stay as calm as possible. If something is upsetting or unsettling, take a minute to pause before answering… or take a day. It always turns out better.
  9. Get good at managing up. Your role requires you to balance the needs of the company with the needs of your team. You need to be accountable. Don’t blame your team. This takes time to figure out. Don’t go it alone (see #4).
  10. Have a plan. You require one of your sales team. You need one, too, and it needs to align with the company’s goals and your sales team’s plan. Once again, get the help you need. Don’t go it alone.

Bonus tip:  Be humble. The team’s accomplishments are their accomplishments. The team’s failures are your failures. You need to own that reality. The quicker you embrace this, the more respect you will gain from your team and company leadership.

This list is by no means exhaustive but it is a start for those in leadership positions and those considering leadership positions. All of these involve checking your ego at the door and being focused on creating success for someone else.

Once you do that and get true satisfaction from it, you will have moved from “me” to “we.”

Mastermind Insights