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Your relationships with the team matter a whole lot more than your job title … and those relationships depend on you serving the team. So be sure you put the needs of your team first!

As a sales leader, your goal must be to make absolutely sure that salespeople know you have their interests at heart and will do what it takes to support them and help them succeed. After all, you win when they win! Most traditional organizations have a hierarchal, top-down org chart where the person at the top of the chart is able to say, “I am in charge – so do what I say.” The most effective leaders, however, invert that org chart. They say, in essence, “Hey, regardless of what the job titles say, you don’t work for me. I actually work for all of you. What can I do to make you lives easier, and what can I do to support you?” In other words, they make an attitude of service to the other members of the team the cornerstone of their management style – and they mean it.

If you are comfortable in your own skin, if you are willing to do what it takes to support your team in the most effective way, you won’t be tempted to hide behind your job title or “pull rank.” On the other hand, if you’re not willing to support the team, and you’re more interested in exerting authority based on your position, the team will pick up on that – and they will lose respect for you as an individual. Too many managers manage with their ego, rather than taking on an attitude of service. This is a big mistake. Your management role should not be where you get your ego needs met!

Your #1 job is to make sure that your individual team members are succeeding. You have to set up a plan to get that done. In setting up that plan, it’s important to bear in mind that the number one reason why people leave the company is that they don’t respect their manager. Notice: It’s not that they don’t respect the institution of management – they don’t respect the specific individual!

That’s not where you want to land. So: Think of the three people on your team you would most like to hold on to … and then start asking yourself a tough question: how much do those people respect you, right now? Do they respect you enough to stick around for another year – or is every passing day a day that you get a little closer to losing them? Do they each know, on a personal level, that you are supporting them? If a competitor came along and tried to recruit them, what would happen?

Take a step back the next time you’re inclined to give an order without any kind of consultation, issue an ultimatum, or end a sentence with “because I said so.” That’s not supporting the team. That’s not being a servant leader. That’s fixating on your own spot on the org chart.

The Sandler takeaway for sales managers: Just as buyers and customers need to be paid attention to and supported over time, salespeople need to be paid attention to and supported over time. Send each salesperson the message that you really are there to serve him or her. Mean it.

  1. Make sure you’re paying attention to each member of your team as an individual. Schedule calendar time for this if necessary.
  2. Ask each person directly, in a one-on-one conversation, what you can do to help him or her succeed. Listen to the answers that come back, and do your best to take action on what you hear.
  1. Avoid the temptation to use your position as a shield against criticism, or as justification for decisions you make without talking to others whom those decisions affect. Managers who use their position on the org chart to pump up their own position, or to win arguments, inevitably end up losing good people they could have held on to. They’re leading with the title, instead of leading with the relationship.

Excerpted from the book, The Sandler Rules for Sales Leaders: 49 Timeless Principles, by David Mattson. © 2017 Sandler Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.

Click here to get your copy of The Sandler Rules for Sales Leaders: 49 Timeless Principles to learn more!

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