Read my blog “I failed miserably, but I will keep pursuing the goal” for context on this post.
Set the Pace
If you look at most sales positions within a company and the people who are in those jobs, you will typically see some characteristics about their personalities that are alike. Most of them are really high energy, will talk to everyone, assertive in the things they do. These are all things that make up a great sales person.
Since all sales people are typically pace setters in an organization, how do you as a leader get out in front of them and set the pace at a higher level. To quote the legendary Green Bay Packers Head Coach Vince Lombardi: I believe it starts with a relentless pursuit of perfection and settling for excellence. If you can get to excellence, that is a pretty good place to be.
I personally believe that I am not ever going to be the smartest person in the room and I am usually not. However, I am disciplined and very routine to a fault in my personal and professional life. There are three things that I do every day that lets my team know that I am setting the pace daily and they are going to have to keep up.
Always show up first, except when it is time to eat:
I believe that if you are right on time, you are actually late in my opinion. Well, Brian, if you are right on time, then how are you late? I am not saying that sometimes you won’t be right on time, or even late from time to time, but if it is a constant thing that happens, then I have no doubt that most of the things you do in your personal and professional life are this way. To me it is a perception thing. As a leader you show up early and leave late. If you are right on time, you don’t get the benefits that have enhanced my career as I describe below.
In some sales manager positions you are remote and your people won’t see you when you are in the office. Get in early and send some kind of email to them. A Good Morning email, an update on the previous day’s production, some kind of email letting them know you are up at them early. If you work in an office, it is real easy for your people to know that you are setting the pace. Be visible as they come in throughout the morning.
Being the first at meetings: In any type of meeting with subordinates, peers, or your bosses it is good to be first, whether it is a training session, a general meeting that you are holding, or a meeting that you must attend. If it is your meeting than being first is a must. You have to make sure the room is set up the way you want it, the technology if needed is working properly, and making sure you are prepared overall to conduct your meeting. This part is a no brainer to me. If it is your boss’s meeting than you want to make sure you are early, you can’t run the risk of being late. You also want your boss to know how well prepared you are, by doing this you will differentiate yourself from everyone else. Lastly, on being early to meetings: You get to spend some quality time with the participants of the meeting. If you are the boss and it is your meeting and everything is set up, that extra time as your employees arrive for the meeting is so valuable. You can talk to them about life and how everything is going for them, a great time to build trust and on the relationships. If it is your boss’s meeting, than the extra time before the meeting is quality time with your boss, and that time is very valuable for you and your career. Lastly, how early do you arrive? I am a big believer in if it is my meeting, just a basic meeting to discuss topics. 10-15 minutes, if it is a presentation or training, at least a half hour maybe more depending on how much set up you have. All other meeting about 10 minutes or so. Oh, at cookouts, company events, anything where there is food, you always eat last. Come on, be courteous.
Work even when it is not a workday:
Now some people have issues with this statement, that’s ok. In this world of feel good and everyone gets a ribbon culture, it is no wonder the US is struggling in certain areas, mainly with our youth, but I digress. The bottom line is that hard work will win most of the time, nothing is 100%. I believe in work\life balance, but only after you complete your work. Call me crazy, but I believe that hard work and determination are two of the most important ingredients of success. All people like a day off, its how we are in the United States, and I am no different. However, what I have found is that if I am going to be a pace setter and expect my team to run with me, then I must set the pace and I am going to work even when everyone is expected not to work.
Yes, I have heard all of the comments “Brian, you don’t have a life”, “When you have Kids, it will be different”, “Don’t let work identify who you are”. These statements drive me crazy as you might imagine, but the last one especially does. “Don’t let work identify who you are”. Let me be clear with you here. I like nice things and I like basics things. I like to be able to have a $5 dollar coffee when I want one, I like to have a nice car, and I like to have a nice house. All of those things are possible to me because I work hard, so yes my work does identify me and it allows me to have the things that I want. Some of my favorite days to work are on the non-workdays, because I know I am being more productive than 99% of my peers, and I am setting the pace for my team.
The last thing I do to set the pace is: Never Not show up
How do you mean Brian? Well, again, this is the one that some people may have a problem with, so hear me out. Luckily, for the most part I am pretty healthy. I also, try to eat right and exercise regularly. We all get sick, however there are different kinds of sick in my opinion.
People get sick and sometimes have to go to the doctor and sometimes it is not in the best interest of your health or your co-workers health for you to show up. However, I think a little headache, little sick in the stomach, or just a little under the weather is not sick to me, and you don’t not show up for these minor inconveniences that are part of life. Secondly, you are the sales manager, so most likely you are not making 100’s of outbound calls daily and have the ability to dictate your workday in most cases. So show up, let everyone know you showed up, take care of a little business and cut out early if you can. Most likely you don’t even have to show up anywhere, you can set at home and send a few emails out from your IPAD, but do something.
I know some of the things above seem pretty basic, and you might be saying well duh, we are all managers and we do these things. As I am typing this chapter, I know many of my peers who are not following any of the above rules as I laid them out. Lastly, I don’t want everyone to think I am hardcore do whatever it takes and work 24/7 to get it done type of person, however as a sales manager I believe it is our job to set the pace, be the example, and your team will follow, so by doing some of the above things over a period of time it will change the teams pace.