Sales Managers, Lead By Example

By Elay Cohen
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Sales managers, lead by example. With over 10,000 sales pitches recorded, 200,000 peer reviews given, and millions of minutes of video watching time logged in SalesHood in 2015, we have some very interesting leadership conclusions to share. The aggregated data we collect is quite prescriptive to first line sales managers who are looking to be better leaders.

So, what did we learn?

Sales managers who lead by example have better sales results than those who do not.

It’s a simple concept that’s proven with the go-to-market strategy to align teams with a gold standard “sales pitch.” Think about it: The act of recording a pitch is a proxy for leading by example.

Sales managers who invest the time to record a “sales pitch” first before their teams, will realize more pipeline, revenue, and quota attainment. The data proves that sales managers who record their pitch first will see their entire team practice/record their pitch very soon after, followed by everyone peer reviewing each other. The team elevates their messaging. When the sales manager gets the pitch done first, everyone follows and everyone benefits.

The tone is set from the top.

A sales manager who steps up and records their “sales pitch” first sends the right message to the team. They are telling their teams three things:

  1. Practice is important to succeed.
  2. Everyone is accountable to practice, including me.
  3. We will grow as a team by learning from from each other.

I get to work with a lot of great leaders who subscribe to the sales leadership philosophy of messaging alignment and leading by example. Just last week, I watched Jim Steele, the Chief Customer Officer at InsideSales, deliver his latest company overview pitch first before challenging his managers and teams to do their own. Inspirational.

I was having dinner recently with Bill Binch, the SVP, Global Sales at Marketo. We were talking about the characteristics of a sales leader, and he shared a great leadership test. He pulled out his mobile phone and showed me his pitch on his mobile. Bill went on to say that a strong sales leader will lead by example and video record their pitch first before asking the team to do it themselves.

Kudos to the many sales leaders who are great role models by leading by example. You know who you are. These leaders all share a common leadership trait. They picked up their phones and recorded their pitch first before challenging their teams to do the same.

When a sales manager records the pitch first they show their authentic and vulnerable self. They show their team that it’s ok to make mistakes. They put emphasis on the need to practice and grow. Mistakes are embraced.

Authenticity, vulnerability, and transparency are characteristics of a true leader. Charles Schwab shared this similar view in an interview with Adam Bryant for the New York Times column, Corner Office.

“The ability to inspire followership is so different than management, and it requires transparency, authenticity, vulnerability and all things that are completely unnatural to you when you are trying to build and achieve and accomplish.”

Leading by example was clear to me during my Salesforce days under the leadership of Marc Benioff and Frank Van Veenendaal. It’s even more clear now with SalesHood. Here are proven tips to execute when rolling out your messaging alignment and go-to-market sales and marketing programs with your sales managers:

  1. Roll out communications and certifications top down first.
  2. Use leaderboards to highlight best practices and laggards by sales manager.
  3. Be clear on expectations.

Now grab your mobile, record your pitch, and show your team how it’s done.

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