Many years ago, as American rock band Guns N Roses were bursting onto the scene, lead singer Axl Rose had a rather unusual request of his crew, ahead of concerts. As the band were beginning to experiment with pyrotechnics as part of their show, it was important that a road crew travelled ahead to the new venue to set up for the next concert. Axl’s key request was that in the dressing room, he wanted a bowl of M&M’s for when he arrived, except that he wanted all of the green M&M’s to be removed. Some may say a rather strange request, however, Axl knew that if his road crew could focus on a small request like removing green M&M’s, then he knew that he could trust them to take care of the big things. He understood that the smallest things can have the biggest impact. The small things matter.
And so it is in Sales Leadership. Understand that your team is watching your every move, listening to everything you say and even more than that, watching what you are not doing and listening to what you are not saying. Your team wants to do well for you, they want to achieve and you have an important responsibility to create an environment where they can thrive and achieve sustainable success. And often, it is not the ‘big things’ that you do which will have the biggest impact, it will be the little things, which often may be easy to overlook and when you look at them in isolation, they may even seem trivial or unimportant. However, they can have the biggest impact on your team and to their long term success. Here are some ideas to contemplate & implement :
- Check in to ensure your attitude is in the right space. As Zig Ziglar said, ‘your attitude determines your altitude’, and through you maintaining and importantly demonstrating a positive attitude in and around your people, it will set an empowering example for others to follow. Remember, your attitude is also contagious.
- Genuinely acknowledge your team on a daily basis. This could start with proactively greeting your people with a simple ‘good morning’ and asking how they are. It never ceases to amaze me the number of sales leaders who do not utilise the law of reciprocity on a daily basis, and yet they wonder why their team is not engaged. Remember, your team will not care how much you know until they know how much you care. Acknowledge them and be genuine.
- Seek opportunities to promote kindness and encouragement, as well as building confidence and commitment. It is amazing what the impact on your team can be with a simple ‘well done’ or ‘great work’. It is another small step of encouragement that can build their confidence, knowing that they have your support. And with confidence, you will be building their commitment at the same time.
- Understand that people in your team may be at different levels of competence and at different levels of achievement, however, it is important to let them know that they matter and that their contribution is important and valuable to the team. Make your team feels special and like they belong, because they do. They matter.
- Invest in getting to know your people well and what is important to them. Set aside time for a 1:1 where your objective is to know more about them and how you can serve them better to achieve their objectives. Focus your attention on being interested instead of being interesting. Don’t make every 1:1 all about ‘the numbers’. Make it about them.
- Practice active listening. When you are with your people, make sure you are with them and not thinking about your next meeting or the customer you need to get back to. There is nothing more disrespectful as a sales leader than not actively listening to your people. Ensure that you are fully present. This alone will have a massive impact on your team.
- Look at how you can encourage your team to develop new ideas and approaches, or even delegate some areas to assist in their development. Look at how you can leverage and duplicate yourself through providing opportunities for your team. And importantly, encourage them to make mistakes as this is the way to develop and grow – in the process, ensure that you fully support them.
Understandably as a sales leader, it is easy to focus on the ‘big hitter’ items which will give the biggest return, such as new sales and revenue generation, however, please do not overlook the small opportunities, as these can often have the biggest impact in your team as well as your results. You will often then find that there is less effort required on the ‘big hitters’ because you have taken care of the smaller things – you have taken care of the green M&M’s.
Ask yourself – do you focus on any of the small ideas listed above? If not, my challenge to you is start – you will be pleasantly surprised at the results you achieve. And if you are currently doing these, congratulations, do even more of them and watch your results and team engagement soar!
To your continued sales leadership success.
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Darren is a Sales Leadership and Sales Performance Coach, Facilitator & Speaker. He is an experienced and committed coach with a background of sales leadership success in large organisations. He applies a genuine focus to coaching and developing high performing sales leaders who are looking to unleash the potential of themselves and their teams.