Are You Ready
 to Lead?

by Jim Pratt

PETER DRUCKER ONCE NOTED, “Every organization has to prepare for the abandonment of everything it does.” This often means creating a new corporate culture. You’ll have trouble creating a new culture if you insist on working in ways that are consistent with old paradigms. Organizations can’t stop the world from changing — the best they can do is adapt.
   Smart teams change before they have to, lucky ones manage to scramble and adjust. And the rest? During the 1980’s a total of 230 companies — or 46% — disappeared from the Fortune 500. Size does not guarantee continued success when leadership is lacking.
   Productive field coaching of our sales teams is a must. Sales agents need our skills and guidance to help them work with their prospects and clients. Jim Koch, CEO of Boston Beer Company said it well: “If more CEOs had to go out and sell their products, day in and day out, they’d pay a lot more attention to what they were making. When you’re out there selling, there’s no place to hide. It’s the acid test.” Not surprisingly, Koch spends two days per week in the field with customers and salespeople.
   Here are seven questions worth considering in between calls, when working with salespeople in the field.

  • What is the purpose of this call?
  • What is the value of this account to you?
  • Who is the decision maker?
  • What is his or her highest value need?
  • What is our customer’s market share?
  • Who is our principal competitor? Why?
  • Are we positioned to take over this account? How?

   We are all aware that there still remains more salespeople in the merchant acquiring industry than the volume of activity requires. The average merchant receives 4-8 calls per month from bank-card sales reps. Encouragement to stay focused is called for — the Sales Leader must step up here.
   Integrity is a must for the Sales Manager, just as it is essential for salespeople. Personal integrity is necessary for a transfer of trust to take place between you and your team.
   Sales and Marketing Management magazine also asked Sales Leaders what — aside from money — are the most effective motivators? Here are the results:

  • Recognition: Being singled out at sales meetings, a pro-file in the company newsletter and being featured on your “wall of fame” are examples (51% of respondents)
  • Awards: Gifts or plaques (28%)
  • Travel and vacations: (26%)
  • Private praise: Thank-you notes or one-on-one congratulations (20%)
  • More responsibility: Title change or an expanded territory (19%)
  • Special involvement: On teams, for overall goal-setting or just being kept informed (10%)
  • Entertainment: Shows and dinners (7%)

   While these items can be effective recognition tools, they are essentially extrinsic in nature. Frequently they are not matched to the particular wants or needs of each individual. How many times have we seen a top performer’s recognition plaques stacked in the corner of his or her office?
   Too often Sales Managers rely on external motivators. Instead, we must find the internal keys to unlock the potential of each member of our sales team. True motivation actually is intrinsic to each individual. We are all motivated differently. It is the job of the Sales Leader to determine just what it is that brings out the best in each one. We are not suggesting you end the use of traditional recognition tools. But at the same time, we must be more keenly aware of individual, personal needs.

Jim Pratt is the CEO of the Pratt-Daly International Sales Consulting firm based in San Diego, CA. Jim’s experience includes leading sales forces of one to 4,800. You may reach Pratt-Daly at 800.374.0300.