canstockphoto3694851Great sales leaders must also be great managers.

Remember when the phone was ringing off the hook and companies hired anyone who could fog a mirror? No one had time to prospect, because they couldn’t keep up with the business coming in every day. Then the recession hit. Oops.

These new hires (more order-takers than salespeople) were fired. Companies had no pipelines, and many businesses folded. The problem was that sales management had their heads in the sand. They thought the bubble would never burst, at least not for them. So, they neglected the strategies, sales metrics, and processes that could have kept their businesses strong, or at least afloat, when the going got rough.

History does repeat itself, and the pendulum is already swinging way too fast. Unless sales leaders get out of their own way, they will get hit in the head again.

Wake-up call for sales organizations: If we focus too much on the big picture and neglect to see the business realities right in front of our faces, we set our companies up to fail.

Leadership and Management—You Can’t Have One without the Other

There’s an important distinction between sales management and sales leadership. We need both.

Tim Sanders reminds us why it’s important to balance the sizzle with the steak in his controversial post, “Is the Leadership Boom Making Us Bad Managers?” As he puts it:

Over the last fifteen years, leadership programming has dominated training programs, bestseller lists and conference agendas. No one really wants to write or talk about management, as it lacks the allure of helping others become leaders … But there’s something eating away at me: Are we neglecting to train managers on what it takes to manage? Name a bestselling book you’ve read on it lately. How about a general session keynote at a conference on management excellence? HR folk, graze the numbers on your LMS and count the views of leadership content versus management material. 

… Here’s the problem: You can’t be a leader without first being a good manager unless you start your own company. And even then, you’d better be a good manager or your business will go bust. And most leaders I know (99% of them) are currently managing direct reports. If they fail to do it well, no great speech or rousing essay will save them from a board of directors that wants an operator and not just a charismatic influencer with genius insight. (Read the rest of the article.)

Sales Leadership Meets Sales Management

Tim shares the following image as an example of the shortsighted view many people take on the difference between leadership and management:


This meme went viral on LinkedIn. If you saw it, perhaps you nodded your head in agreement. It’s an understandable reaction. We’ve all worked for managers who thought they were the world’s gift to sales. But there are also plenty of great sales managers who aren’t worried about their own sense of importance. Instead, they focus on keeping their businesses strong and helping their teams succeed. And that is exactly the type of leader/manager I’d want to work for. How about you?

Want to learn how great managers set their teams up for referral success? Read “Are Referrals Your Priority … or an Afterthought?

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