who's leading whom in your media sales organization

The leader of a successful organization coaches individual members of the team to help them reach their potential.
Buffalo team, International League, 1915. Bain News Service, publisher. Library of Congress.

“Who’s leading whom” is a really important question in sales organizations today. In fact, it has always been important. You can visit just about any social media business website or open any business publication and read dozens of articles and blogs on how to be a better leader, manager, or coach. Who in your sales organization is providing the leadership, direction, and setting the sales culture?

Probably the most important part of your job as sales chief in your organization is to provide leadership to the people on your team. Many leadership pundits promote leading people and managing the business process of sales. Both are important aspects to the position. The why and how managers do things in sales organizations has a critical impact on assimilating new sales people and establishing a core vision for your existing team members.

Since budget season is upon us, and as you look intently at what you expect of yourself and your team for the close of this year and into 2014, here are three things to consider:

  1. Do you have a strategic plan for your sales organization, and is it one that you check regularly to determine if you are staying the course you decided on during the two days of strategy sessions you conducted last fall? Many sales managers even hire a facilitator to assist in making these meetings more productive. Great investment. Having the opportunity to get in a room with all key executives and THINK about your business, people, processes, and systems is a vital element to success. The challenge is that once the meeting is over and that intense focus ebbs, the reactive and fast-paced nature of our business gets in the way of responding appropriately on a strategic level to the business climate changes we can experience day to day. Make a strategic plan and then check it each week to make sure you don’t stray from your strategic initiatives and that you are staying your intended course.
  2. A second key is the establishment of a sales culture. How and why do we do things the way we do them at WXYZ? One of the definitions of the word “culture” from Merriman is: “the shared beliefs and values of a group; the beliefs, customs, practices, and social behaviors of a particular nation or people.” Your particular group is the people on your sales team. What sales culture do you believe in and value as a team? Do you communicate using common language, and have you established processes and systems that your salespeople understand? Do you set expectations and then inspect those expectations? Do you use a CRM to analyze account information and maximize your best accounts and prospects? This helps create transparency in the sales process so that sales and management can communicate easily and seamlessly regarding activities and outcomes. Do you hold people accountable when they get outside the culture you are trying to establish? Do they know how “WE” do things at station WXWZ? This is vital to success.
  3. Probably the most critical component to any productive sales organization is the people on your team. The productivity of your sales output will never be greater than the capacity of your team to deliver it. So make certain you have the right people on the bus. The second factor here is what type of relationship do you have with each individual on the bus? Do you endeavor to know each one individually and know their strengths and non-strengths? Do THEY know that you know them and want to put them in the best situations for them to succeed? This is the heavy lifting of coaching, because each and every member of your team requires their own game plan.

Winning is hard work. It requires strategic planning, thoughtful and caring leadership of your people, establishment of an appropriate sales culture, and the pursuit of coaching, developing, and maximizing the capacities of each person on your team to reach the full capacity of the sales organization. Don’t be a fly on the wall buzzing helplessly at the screen in the window when the path to success is the open door.

By Chris Crawford,
General Sales manager, Efficio Solutions

Listen to an interview conducted with Chris to learn more about his thoughts on effective media sales management.

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