It Would Appear That We Have An Abundance Of Managers Right Now, But Too Few Leaders


One of the questions I am most frequently asked, is what are the key differences between a leader and a manager, and this is the best quote I have ever read, that succinctly describes those differences.

“There is a difference between leadership and management. Leadership is of the spirit management is of the mind. Managers are necessary, but leaders are essential. We must find managers who are not only skilled organisers, but inspired and inspiring leaders.” – Field Marshall Slim

I believe that you can buy someone’s physical presence, but you cannot buy loyalty, enthusiasm, or devotion. These you must earn. Successful organisations have leaders who focus on the future rather than cling to the past. Leaders bring out the best in people. They spend time developing people into leaders.

In my view, these are the qualities of a true leader:

• Leaders have a clear vision of what they are working towards. They don’t keep their vision a secret – they communicate it to their people.
• Leaders are consistent. They keep their principles and values at all times.
• Leaders can and will do what they expect of others. They are prepared to walk the talk.
• Leaders are not threatened by competence. They enjoy promoting people and are quick to give credit to those who have earned it.
• Leaders enjoy developing their people into leaders, not followers. They train people to take on more challenging tasks and responsibilities. They develop people’s confidence.
• Leaders don’t betray trust. They can treat confidential information professionally.
• Leaders are concerned about getting things done. They don’t get embroiled in political infighting, gossip and backstabbing. They encourage those around them to do likewise.
• Leaders confront issues as they arise. They do not procrastinate. If something needs fixing, they do it right away, even if it is uncomfortable. The longer things are left, the more difficult they become.
• Leaders let people know how they are doing. They reward and recognise performance that is above expectations and they help people identify ways of improving poor performance.
• Leaders are flexible. They welcome change. They do not stick to an old position simply because it is more comfortable.
• Leaders are adaptable. They see change as an opportunity rather than a threat.
• Leaders are human. They make mistakes. When they do so, they readily admit it.
• Leaders reflect on and learn from their mistakes. They see errors as a chance to improve their skills.
• Leaders enjoy challenge. They are prepared to take risks and encourage others to do likewise. If they fail, they treat the exercise as a learning experience.
• Leaders focus on the future, not the past. They anticipate trends and prepare for them. They develop a vision for their team and communicate it to them.
• Leaders are open to new ideas. They demonstrate their receptiveness by supporting change.
• Leaders treat staff as individuals. They give closer attention to those that need it and lots of space to those that deserve it.
• Leaders encourage and reward co-operation within and between teams.

Without managers the visions of leaders remain dreams. Leaders need managers to convert visions into realities. For continuous success, organisations need both managers and leaders; however, as most seem to be over-managed and under-led, they need to find ways of having both at the same time. Perhaps the best way to handle this paradox is for managers to aim to be managers when viewed from above, leaders when viewed from below and to remember that the need for leadership grows as we move up the organisation. This is only one of the challenges that can make working life fun.


Today’s News: Whenever age came up in conversation, my mother had a delightful expression, she said: “Ah, but many a good tune can be played on an old fiddle” It was always said with a discreet smile and a glint in her eye, which, for obvious reasons, I always failed to pursue. That is certainly the case with this week’s winner over at Top 10 Sales Articles - someone whose tapes I was listening to twenty years ago – you can read his article here

Tomorrow:My guest is the irrepressible Tim Wakel, who always comes up with something extremely interesting and quirky, so be sure to join us.

Also tomorrow, some exciting news regarding Top Sales Experts, that you will want to hear.

The Sales Management Acid Test


Pick up a typical company report today and what words do you find? Verbs like analyse, forecast, plan, assess, and schedule, are used in pursuit of organisations that are efficient, productive, and predictable.

What set of people are required? Obviously, people who are efficient, effective, proficient, competent, productive, and co-operative.

I believe we need to go beyond – we need to be inspired, motivated, creators, who are enthusiastic and able to consistently deliver against our key objectives.

We should be developing individuals who are not afraid to challenge paradigms, who are prepared to go that extra yard in search of excellence and who understand that success is 80% attitude and only 20% aptitude.

For a group of people to remain consciously competent at optimum performance levels, they require frequent injections of stimulation, motivational guidance, prompting and directing, otherwise they can easily lapse into becoming unconsciously competent or worse, unconsciously incompetent.

The primary objective of a professional Sales Manager has to be:
“To achieve consistently superior results, through the performance of every key individual.”

The Acid Test: When thinking about your own sales force:

– Do you understand their motivators – what is driving them?
– Do you have visibility of their numbers – year to date, forecast vs. required performance?
– Activity levels – are they working hard and smart enough?
– Engagement – are they talking to the right level in their prospects/accounts?
– Messaging – are they capable of delivering an appropriate message at the right level?
– Qualification – are they only spending time on deals where they can compete and ultimately that they can win?
– Closing – are they constructing successful campaigns and closing business?

Top performing Sales Directors and Managers understand instinctively when a situation requires them to Direct, Coach, Support, or Delegate but learning these skills takes time and practice and underpinning this advanced approach to management must be a range of core competencies…


Today’s News: I am convinced of the value of “social media” of course. I am a big fan of LinkedIn, Twitter, Plaxo et al, but I am still not getting the most out of the experience, and I have written myself a “must try harder” note. If you are like me, you will enjoy this excellent post from Brian Carroll, over at The Customer Collective: “Can a social media like Twitter boost your lead generation results?”

Earlier in the week, Jill Konrath asked this question: “Are you still trying to figure on how to get LinkedIn to work for you?”

“If so, then you need to meet Patrick O’Malley. He’s a true LinkedIn Wizard who has helped me take my profile to the next level. Check out this video.”

Click here to learn more about Patrick O’Malley, his LinkedIn expertise, coaching & training programs. He has more great articles, videos and tips on his website.  

Finally, you may also be astounded at some figures I read yesterday:

“LinkedIn adds 400,000 users a WEEK, Facebook is adding over 400,000 a DAY. Twitter has grown 900% in 6 months. A year ago, MySpace and Facebook were the same size.  Now Facebook (at 160 Million) is twice the size of MySpace and the gap is widening.

What is happening?  Business users, predominantly LinkedIn users, are adopting these other well-known platforms as a sort of “add-on”.

Twitter recently turned down a $500 Million offer from Facebook!  LinkedIn is valued at $1 Billion, Facebook was once valued at $15B (now estimated closer to $4B), General Motors is worth $2.5 Billion.  None of these make a dime.

Their value is in YOU and their relationship with you.  They are built to be sold and you go with the sale.  This is not necessarily a bad thing.  You wouldn’t want to be left behind would you?

With 30+ Million customers, LinkedIn has 350 employees and recently had to layoff 35 people.  People wonder why they can’t get their problems resolved.”

If you would like to follow me on Twitter, you will find me here

Tomorrow: I am travelling and writing next week’s blog posts on the hoof – as ever, wherever you are, have a great weekend – JF

FREE eBook – The Seven Habits Of Highly Successful People – A Synopsis


When a colleague loaned me Stephen Covey’s “The Seven Habits Of Highly Successful People” many years ago, it took me about three months to get around to reading it – I now realise that I wasted those three months! In fact, I read it three times in order to ensure that I had fully digested the wisdom.

Whilst I cannot claim to have experienced an epiphany of “Damascus Highway” proportions, it did cause me to make fundamental changes to the way I conducted business. In reality, I was practising much of what Covey suggests, but I was doing so in a fairly unstructured and ill-disciplined way.

However, in what I now term my “Post Covey” period, I do ensure that I audit myself regularly and I would urge you to do the same.

Please download my full synopsis by simply clicking on the banner below.


Today’s News: My good friend Joanne Black has a Free webinar download available:

Get More Prospects and More New Clients in a Global Economic Slowdown

Why just survive when you can THRIVE? Download this FREE recorded Back in the Black Free Mini-Webinar session and learn how referrals can drive your business to thrive — even in a market downturn.

Leverage existing relationships to grow revenue
Accelerate the sales process to win more, faster
Convert more sales than ever before

Free download: audio & visuals
Download the FREE webinar video recording of Joanne’s Back in the Black Mini-Webinar: Listen, learn, and thrive! Create your own referral-selling plan and commit to thriving in ’09! Download Now Requires the free MWP Player or compatible player. Details here

Received a message from David Fife, Founder – ClientZing

We just launched a new communication service for sales managers and sales people. Being a consultant to sales managers I thought you would be interested in a new, clever, effiecient way to contact prospects and customers that you could share with your clients.”

I did check it out and it looks good – you might want to do the same – Go to


Tomorrow: I am delighted to welcome Nancy D Solomon onto the JF Guest Author Spot

How Roger Bannister Challenged Self-Limiting Beliefs


In 1957, Roger Bannister became the first athlete to break the four-minute barrier for running a mile. Prior to Bannister’s achievement, on that evening in May at the unassuming Iffley Road track in Oxford, most athletes considered a sub-four-minute mile impossible. But that same year, sixteen other athletes also ran a mile in less than four minutes.

Did they become super-human overnight? Or, more simply, did their beliefs change? That is the way it works – if one person can do it, we can all do it, we just have to believe we can.

Our Colleagues Can Exert Positive Pressure:
Like those milers, salespeople have their own unique sets of beliefs, some of which limit their potential in sales. For instance, during a recession, the members of a sales force may all believe that strong sales are impossible. But if just one person increases their sales, what seemed an inevitable fact will suddenly appear more like a thin excuse for poor performance.

We Must Challenge Negative Beliefs:
Sales Captains who challenge negative beliefs with good questions can help create shifts in mindset. Take a look at these examples of negative beliefs and examples of questions that challenge them.

“Our solutions are too expensive.”
“Compared with whom?”
“Compared to what?”
“How do you know?”

“I’m hopeless at cold calling”
“According to whom?”
“What prevents you from being good at cold calling?”
“What would happen if you were good?”

“My sales target is too high this month, I’ll never achieve it”
“What do you need to do so that you can?”

While challenging questions may not instantly create a belief change, over time, they can enable salespeople to shift their perceptions of their beliefs, recognising that there are other possibilities and options available to them.

Developing Self Worth:
Organisations that recognise the importance of helping their salespeople develop a strong sense of self worth are many times more likely to produce high performers. Self worth is vital to everyone but especially to salespeople who hear “no” more often than they hear “yes, I’ll buy”. A salesperson’s self-esteem can sometimes take a hammering, but organisations that find ways to build their salespeople’s self-esteem reap an invaluable dividend. Self–worth translates into attitude, that small thing that makes such a big difference.

In Summary – The most successful salespeople take care of their attitude and they understand that:

Great Attitude = Great Results,
Average Attitude = Average Results,
Poor Attitude = Poor Results.

The second commonality with successful salespeople is that they expect to be successful and they want it badly enough that they bring about its happening i.e. fulfilled expectation.


Tomorrow: I am heading back to Paris. It has been a great week and I’ll be here for you on Monday as usual – JF

Building Productivity,Creating Direction & Rewarding Change


For companies to remain competitive now, their sales organisation must be able to respond positively to changing economic tides. As businesses strive to establish customer orientation, sales partnerships and a strategic approach to selling, they are demanding more and more from their salespeople but ensuring that these new methods are widely practised and smoothly implemented falls to sales management.

Building Productivity:
Sales productivity is a strategic issue. That’s why problems in this area stem from salespeople being unclear about their company’s priorities i.e. what their message should be and what they should be selling.

The trend in industry of removing layers of management between the sale force and the general manager presents a challenge to those sales managers who remain. To begin with, the sales manager becomes an essential link between company strategy and what takes place in the customer’s office. He or she must not only grasp the corporate vision but be able to communicate it to the sales force in terms of the real effects on sales practices.

Creating Direction:
Sales managers with an intimate feel for the selling process succeed because their staff regard them as part of the sales team but coaching the team is as important as playing in it. In other words, sales managers must be prepared to provide training, feedback and support to every individual within the team.
Once committed to the training process, they must routinely reinforce new ways of behaving in real sales situations. They must provide a clear sense of direction on a daily basis, not just at the monthly sales meeting / quarterly review / annual appraisal.

The very best sales managers engage in frequent coaching and feedback, even when their sales people work in remote locations. While encouraging salespeople to air their problems openly and discuss their concerns, sales managers must be able to offer clear and specific feedback for improving sales performance.

Rewarding Change:
The sales manager is charged with translating the company’s reward system into specific improvements in sales performance. Both salespeople and corporate managers count on the sales manager to recognise and reward outstanding achievement, formally and informally.

The process of promoting new attitudes about the customer and the role of the salesperson can be frustrating and slow. Reverting back to recent research there is compelling evidence to suggest that companies will see results sooner if they recognise and reward salespeople – “you get more of the behaviour and results that you reward.”

The trend in sales compensation appears to be away from commission to guaranteed salary, from compensation based on orders to compensation based on delivery and sign-off. Interestingly some organisations we know, base their ‘salesperson of the year’ award on the basis of customer satisfaction or customer retention rather than sheer volume of orders or activity.


Today’s News: Three Top Sales Experts are presenting over at Business Expert Webinars this week: Cheryl Clausen, Anne Miller and Leslie Buterin – you can get all the details here

Tomorrow: On The JF Guest Author Spot, Colleen Francis – “Make 2009 the Year You Reinvent Your Sales!”

Sales Leadership – Building a Shared Mental Model


The role of a Sales Leader is to translate the organisation’s vision, mission and values into a meaningful context that sales teams can relate to and feel excited by. If this is achieved then the Sales Leader will have created a sales team with a shared mental model. This transforms an ordinary sales team into a high performing one.

For clarity, here is a brief description of the following terms:

An organisation’s vision is a guiding image of success formed in terms of a huge goal. It is a description in words that conjures up a picture of the organisation’s destination. A compelling vision will stretch expectations, aspirations, and performance. Without that powerful, attractive, valuable vision, why bother?

A mission statement communicates the essence of an organisation to its stakeholders and customers, and failure to clearly state and communicate an organisation’s mission can have harmful consequences around its purpose. As Lewis Caroll, through the words of the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland says, “If you don’t know where you’re going, it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
Guiding principles are the consequence of a mission statement that are intended to inform or shape all subsequent decision-making, which also provides normative criteria allowing policy-makers to accept, reject or modify policy interventions and activities. They are a guiding set of ideas that are articulated, understood and supported by the organisation’s workforce.

Values are beliefs which the organisation’s workforce hold in common and endeavor to put into practice. The values guide their performance and the decisions that are taken. Ideally, an individual’s personal values will align with the spoken and unspoken values of the organisation. By developing a written statement of the values of the organisation, individuals have a chance to contribute to the articulation of these values, as well as to evaluate how well their personal values and motivation match those of the organisation.

The Human Capital Development Model, created by Krauthammer International, is a logical process that can take top management concepts, and translate them into a context that has real meaning for staff at all levels.

The key to bringing this model to life is to answer the following questions:
• Do my team understand the organisation’s vision and how their role moves the organisation closer to achieving it?
• How can my sales team translate the organisation’s mission into one that is relevant to them?
• How do the organisation’s guiding principles impact on the day-to-day responsibilities of sales people?
• Which of the organisation’s values does my sales team relate to?
• How can we interpret these values so they become compelling for each sales person?

An effective sales team understands the big picture and the context of their team’s work to the greatest degree possible. That includes understanding the relevance of their job and how it impacts the effectiveness of others and the overall team effort. Too often, sales people are asked to work on an activity without being told how their role contributes to organisation’s vision, much less how their efforts are impacting the ability of others to do their work. Understanding the organisation’s vision promotes collaboration, increases commitment and improves quality.

An effective team works collaboratively and with a keen awareness of interdependency. Collaboration and a solid sense of interdependency in a team will defuse blaming behaviour and stimulate opportunities for learning and improvement. Without this sense of interdependency in responsibility and reward, blaming behaviours can occur which will quickly erode team effectiveness and morale.

Today’s News: I mentioned yesterday that we have a really big week coming up and it all kicks-off tomorrow, with the announcement of this year’s twelve finalists, who will be battling it out for the “Top Sales Article Of The Year” award.

I should explain that the public poll will account for 50% of the marks and the other 50% comes from the panel of sales experts, who I will be introducing tomorrow.

Tomorrow: Tibor Shanto is my guest on The JF Guest Author Spot

What Constitutes A Successful Sales Team?



A team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.”

Description taken from The Wisdom of Teams (Harvard Business School Press, 1993).

For a sales team to remain consciously competent at optimum performance levels, they require frequent injections of stimulation, motivational guidance, prompting and directing, otherwise they can easily lapse into becoming unconsciously competent or worse, unconsciously incompetent.

The primary objective of an effective Sales Leader has to be to achieve consistently superior results through the performance of every sales person.

When thinking about your own sales force:

• Do you understand their motivators – what is driving them?
• Do you have visibility of their numbers – year to date, forecast vs. required performance?
• Activity levels – are they working hard and smart enough?
• Engagement – are they talking to the right level in their prospects/accounts?
• Messaging – are they capable of delivering an appropriate message at the right level?
• Qualification – are they only spending time on deals where they can compete and ultimately that they can win?
• Closing – are they constructing successful campaigns and closing business?

A successful sales team is one that is set up correctly, responds to the responsibility it has for the task, seeks constant improvement and sees its Sales Leader as a fundamental support to its success. A sales team in this situation will do well and is more likely to go on doing well than a sales team who are just told what to do.

The Sales Leader’s role is one of catalyst – constantly helping their team to keep up with events, to change in the light of events and to succeed because it is always configured for success.


Today’s News: I am delighted to announce the launch of Phase One of the new Resource Center, over at Top Sales Experts, which includes “The Best Sales Blogs In The World” – including this one! More than thirty of the world’s top sales gurus are taking part in this project. Do go over and have a look


We are now eagerly awaiting the arrival of Phase Two on January 13th next year.

Tomorrow: On The JF Guest Author Spot – Colleen Francis – be sure to join us.

Appraise And Succeed: It’s Almost Feedback Time

Special Announcement


Selling Through a Slump: Live Q&A on Selling in a Recession
2 p.m. EST November 19, 2008

These are tough times in the selling business. Customers are ordering less, postponing sold business, trimming the number of suppliers, and reducing budgets. It is taking longer to close a sale. Many of your sales staff may never have experienced a downturn like this before. How can sales organizations continue to thrive in an increasingly lean economy?

Tune in to a FREE live interactive discussion with a panel of sales experts, and get your questions answered:

What best practices can you learn from companies that have not only survived but thrived through past downturns?

What specific steps can you take to create a more valuable relationship with your customer?

Which tools should you be using to increase the effectiveness of your selling process?

What role can technology play in making you smarter about your best opportunities?

You’ll have an opportunity to gain valuable strategic knowledge by listening to commentary from proven thought leaders:

Learn what not to do.
Hear about effective methods that you can put in place now.
See the results of our TCC survey of top sales management experts, and learn how the recession is affecting other sales organizations.

Panelists will include Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, Denis Pombriant, founder of the Beagle Research Group, and David Bonnette, Group VP of North America Sales at Oracle. Robin Carey, Co-Founder and CEO of Social Media Today LLC, will moderate.

Brought to you by The Customer Collective and Oracle CRM.

This is an event you should NOT miss if you are serious about surviving and succeeding in the worst economic downturn in history: It is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better.

You have two choices; fight your way through it and come out at the other end stronger, wiser and intact; or do nothing and risk being taken down with it – for me, it really is a “no-brainer” -JF

Welcome to the conversation.

Now for today’s post:

A company’s performance appraisal process is critically important. It answers the two questions that every member of an organisation wants to know:

• What do you expect of me?

• How am I doing at meeting your expectations?

Regular assessments and appraisals are essential if individuals are to continually expand their “skills set” and should deliver three key benefits for an organisation:

• A clear career path for progression (which typically seems to motivate salespeople who operate in a business-to-business environment)

• Evidence of the return on investment made in developing people so organisations are encouraged to sustain ongoing development

• A clear benchmark for salespeople and sales managers, so that they know what is expected of them

Every manager has to appraise subordinates and the mechanics of it vary from ticking little boxes, through marking on five-point scales, to writing an open ended report. However, in all cases the primary purpose of an appraisal is to help the subordinate.

Why Appraise? – Reasons for an Appraisal:

• To provide feedback of individual performance.

• To plan for future promotions and successions.

• To assess training and development needs.

• To provide information for salary planning and special awards.

• To contribute to corporate career planning.

The five key elements of the performance appraisal are:

• Measurement – assessing performance against agreed targets and objectives.

• Feedback – providing information to the individual on their performance and progress.

• Positive reinforcement – emphasising what has been done well and making only constructive criticism about what might be improved.

• Exchange of views – a frank exchange of views about what has happened, how appraisees can improve their performance, the support they need from their managers to achieve this and their aspirations for their future career.

• Agreement – jointly coming to an understanding by all parties about what needs to be done to improve performance generally and overcome any issues raised in the course of the discussion.

So when considering the design of an appropriate sales team appraisal document, what are the areas you should consider including?

This will be very much a personal decision based on relevancy:

If you have read any of my work before, you will, in all probability, know that I work with a very simple formula when it comes to team development and measurement i.e.

Attitude + Skills + Process + Knowledge = Success

I arrived at this conclusion many years ago and my initial reasoning was this:

Attitude is fundamental to any achievement because individuals with the right Attitude are far more likely to embrace the essential Skills, recognise the control that Process brings and have the desire to continually expand their Knowledge.

Skills are the ‘tools of the trade’ and have to be developed on an ongoing basis. They also need to be specific, because too much time can be wasted over-burdening employees with inappropriate and irrelevant skills without any identifiable plan for their future requirements.

Process brings organisation, efficiency and control, both for the individual and for management. Effective process provides objective analysis and indicators which can be benchmarked and accurately measured.

Then there is of course a need to build in Knowledge and that must include knowledge of products, industry, market sectors, competitors, business, own company and last but not least, self!

Therefore, when measuring my teams, I always ensure that I benchmark against that criteria, plus I, and all of my clients, use ASP Profile


Today’s News: This is going to be a particularly hectic week, so do stay tuned if you can: First up, if you missed the “Ask The Experts” webinar that I co-presented with Jill Konrath and Kendra Lee for Landslide Technologies last week, you can download the entire show here

It was incredibly well attended and as we begin planning for the first Top Sales Experts Roundtable on December 9th, featuring: Leslie Buterin, Colleen Francis, Jill Konrath, Paul McCord, Keith Rosen and me – we just know that this inaugral event is going to be fantastic – more details soon.

Over at Top 10 Sales Articles, we have a very special winner this week – you can check them out for yourself here

And over on my other blog “Sales Manager’s Mentor Blog” – I ask: “Are You A Boss Or A Leader?”

Lots of very good webinars coming up this week on Business Expert Webinars, and I’ll be announcing those tomorrow.

Tomorrow: News of a special book launch.



The One Constant That We Can Rely On – Change


“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, not the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change” – Charles Darwin

Whatever got you where you are today will not be sufficient to keep you there. A rapidly changing environment is the regular background against which organisations must develop.

Change is continuous and will become more rapid as we move forward over time. Senior management must be capable of reacting to those changes and be prepared to take advantage of them and yet stay within the overall framework and agreed strategy.

The role of strategy is fundamental if the people within an organisation are to be enabled to make the level of contribution of which they are capable. Strategy, based on a good grasp of the core competencies of a business, is an essential precursor to achieving optimal shareholder value.

Dependence on salespeople is key to delivering the latent capability of a business. Our salespeople are the greatest source of competitive advantage we have and that is precisely why we should continue to invest in them and fully develop them. This is particularly true now that in most market sectors competitive advantage is continually being eroded – i.e. International barriers are coming down, selling time is becoming limited, competitors are getting smarter, fewer and fewer names are appearing on companies’ databases, and product uniqueness is rare. Conversely, undeveloped personnel can bring down a company through inadequate performance, leaving the competition to harvest the marketplace.

If your organisation wants to permanently increase it’s sales results then it needs to approach sales differently to create “the difference that makes the difference” in order to positively impact bottom line performance.

In Summary:
Organisations and salespeople who have 100% commitment to doing whatever it takes to elevate their sales to a whole new level are the ones most likely to succeed. Trying to operate a sales organisation without total commitment is like trying to drive a car without fuel. But every organisation has the potential to harness the power of their salespeople just as surely as oxygen pumps life into the human body.

Today’s News: Is scant, due to the fact that I am with clients, but there will be lots on Monday.

Tomorrow: However, JF Uncut will be here tomorrow – ever heard of George Thorogood? “One Man’s Dream And Another Man’s Dream”



It’s Tougher At The Top Right Now


Most sales leaders will not have experienced such a severe economic downturn before.

My advice is quite simple: “Stay focused, constantly challenge paradigms, but always keep the overall sales strategy sharply in focus”

One of the key tasks of a sales manager is to continually seek ways to improve the way in which their team operates – constantly challenging paradigms and questioning “the way we do things around here”, will ensure the team remains at optimum performance levels.

However, it is also important to stay within an overall long term strategy and not effect change for change’s sake. Here are some thoughts on moving forward in a structured manner.

First, keep the key management functions in mind:

• Define objectives (your own and others)

• Plan (and time) action

• Communicate (throughout the process)

• Support others’ action

• Evaluate performance (and link to the future)

• Then relate this to the task, the team and the individual people

Keeping the Overall Management Process in Mind:

Define Objectives:

• Task – Identify task and constraints

• Team – Set targets and involve the team

• Individual Needs – Agree targets and responsibilities


• Task – Establish priorities

• Team – Structure and delegate

• Individual Needs – Assess skills, train and delegate


• Task -  Brief and check understanding

• Team – Consult, obtain feedback

• Individual Needs – Listen, advise and enthuse


• Task – Monitor progress, check standards

• Team – Co-ordinate, reconcile conflict

• Individual Needs – Recognise, encourage and counsel


• Task – Review, re-plan and summarise

• Team – Reward success, learn from failure (and success)

• Individual Needs – Appraise, guide and train for the future

This view encapsulates, and simplifies, the whole process.

With this picture in mind certain key issues are worth a mention:

Link to the Future:

Ongoing success as a manager is influenced by:

• The attitude you take to the transition

• What you do before you move into a new appointment

• The early focus you bring to bear on key issues

• The relationship you thus cultivate with staff

• The working habits you create for yourself (and others) in process

Together, all the above influence early success in the job – and how you take things forward into the future.

Key Issues:

From the beginning, always operate on the basis that managing people:

• Takes time – you cannot get so bound up in your own workload that you skimp on time you should spend with others

• Takes effort – it is challenge, there are no magic formulae or quick fixes that will do the job for you

• Needs thought – the obvious or immediate answer may not be best, things may well need research, analysis and thinking through

• Is not a solo effort – seek and take advice from where you can, including your own staff

• Will not always go right – as Oscar Wilde said, “Experience is the name so many people give to their mistakes”: admit your mistakes (publicity if necessary) and learn from your experience

Remember too that managing people:

Is a process of helping others to be self-sufficient – this implies trust and that management works best when you take a positive view of what people can do (and do not see your role as a sort of corporate security guard)

Is based on good, regular and open communication – something that pervades many issues.

Needs to be acceptable to people before it can be effective– hence the crucial role of motivation as part of the management task

Become self-sustaining when it works – i.e. if people find your management helpful (to the job, the organisation and to them) then they will support it and support you

Overall, management is not what you do to people but the process of how you work with people to help prompt their performance. Work with people from day one, and go on doing it throughout your management career.

At the end of the day success comes down to a considered approach. Charge in, desperate to make an impression, go at everything at once in order to make an impression, and disaster may closely follow. ‘Twas ever thus:

“First organise the near at hand, then organise the far removed.

First organise the inner, then organise the outer.

First organise the basic, then organise the derivative

First organise the strong, then organise the weak.

First organise the great. Then organise the small.

First organise yourself, then organise others”.

General Zhuge Liang

Perhaps we should highlight the last sentence: “First organise yourself, then organise others”

Last Word:

Being a manager is a challenge but it is also almost infinitely rewarding to create and maintain a team of people who deliver excellent performance and produce whatever results are targeted. It is a task that takes time, requires effort and needs a considered approach.

All sorts of things can help, but only one person can guarantee that you become a good manager – and that’s you.

You may also enjoy:”What Is Successful Leadership Really About?”

Today’s News: OK, the upcoming gig I am presenting with Jill Konrath and Kendra Lee, is filling up – here are the details:

Ask the Experts: 3 Leading Sales Gurus Answer Your Most Pressing Sales Questions
Free Webinar brought to you by Landslide Technologies
Wednesday November 12th, 2008 – Free!
1:00 PM Eastern

How can I keep my sales team focused and producing results in the current business environment? ”

“How do I increase my team’s close ratio to compensate for a smaller pipeline?”

“What are my customers and potential clients thinking right now? ”

“How can I best position my company and its services to decision makers?”

Right now you probably have a lot of questions similar to these and would like to have some answers.

Please join Jill Konrath, best-selling author of Selling to Big Companies, Jonathan Farrington internationally renowned sales consultant, and Kendra Lee, best-selling author and expert in selling to SMBs and IT decision makers, to answer these and other questions you may have about selling more effectively to BtoB prospects.

You can either come loaded with questions or sit back and listen as some of the best sales consultants in the business talk about the realities of today’s selling landscape and answer the sales questions that keep you up at night.


Tomorrow: I will be back with the latest instalment of JF Uncut, so do please join me.