The Golder Rule of Leadership, and Life.
DO THE RIGHT THING ALL OF THE TIME – Jeffrey Gitomer
Beyond sales, reflections are about people and moments and books that have impacted you. The lessons you have learned along the way. Things completed and things left undone. Your bucket list and the next thing to cross off. And, of course, your present situation and how you got there.
While it’s a little easier for me to reflect right now, at some point in your life reflection will begin as well. I don’t know the day, and neither do you. But I promise you it will happen. And when it does, it will mark the beginning of a new era. A big picture era that no longer focuses on quota. Rather, it allows you to take a hard look at life. When that transition begins to happen your sales will double.
You’ll no longer be fretting about the subject line in an email. Instead, you’ll be taking actions to build your personal reputation, your personal brand, and your stature in your marketplace.
The transition will help you evolve from salesperson to sales leader. Not manager, leader. You lead your own charge, you lead your own way, you lead your own plan to build your own reputation through the leadership you created with customers.
The way people speak about you.
The way to refer to you.
The way they refer other people to you.
The way that they reward you, not just with sales, but with referrals and accolades.
And hopefully those accolades will show up someplace in your social media profiles or on their blog or their website, and most certainly on Google.
For some of you right now this makes no sense. Reason? Simple, you haven’t begun the reflection process. Save this piece. Your day will come. And as I’ve said many times before, when you get what you want you better be ready.
“One of the biggest and most fatal mistakes that salespeople make is “waiting” for someone else to give you sales tools.” ~Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sale Re-defined, our new book, available only on Kindle!
Not the one you see in the mirror in the morning. I’m talking about a way bigger reflection than that. It’s a reflection about time, accomplishment, achievement, and fulfillment. Life reflection. When I was cold calling in New York City, often making sales, but more often getting my head handed to me, waves crashing on the beach never entered my mind. The ocean never entered my mind. I was caught in the spiral of the process, failing to reflect on it and see what else could’ve been done, or how much smarter I could have (should have) been. How many more chances should I have taken?
What do you reflect on right now? And how are those reflections impacting your actions? Your achievements? Your success? Reflections are not just about sales, they’re an important part of life. Your life.
“I want my people to be accountable.”
“I want our people to be MORE accountable.”
“Our main issue this year is ‘accountability.’”
Sound familiar? Accountability is the number one recurring theme throughout sales leadership in the United States. Sales leaders want their salespeople to be more accountable for their actions, activity, numbers, and (of course) sales.
And it’s TOTALLY WRONG, TOTALLY BACKWARD, TOTALLY INSULTING, and TOTALLY ANTI-SALES.
How’s that for an opinion?
REALITY: NO SALESPERSON WANTS TO BE ACCOUNTABLE. They got into sales so they WOULDN’T have to be accountable.
But sales leadership, even in their current CYA situation, has no concept of “field reality.” Rather, they implement some form of accountability through CRM (customer relationship management), and wonder why NO ONE uses it, much less keeps it up to date.
CRM is an advanced form of database that that helps salespeople keep track of customers, and on the surface it seems like a great tool. But it’s complex, cumbersome, and requires additional work. Leadership, who bought CRM for the wrong reason, expects all salespeople to document everything. But salespeople don’t.
CRM programs are the most-purchased, least-used software in the history of the computer. Why?
The reality is: CRM doesn’t help salespeople make sales.
Which brings me to today’s subject: accountability versus responsibility.
Sales leaders who want their people to be accountable are passing off their leadership duties to someone else, and then blaming them for failure. Wrong approach.
Leadership and accountability are at the opposite ends of the spectrum, especially the sales spectrum.
THINK ABOUT IT THIS WAY: You’re accountable to me. (Not good.) I’m responsible for you. (Much better.) And responsibility has a much more inclusive meaning.
As a leader, you’re responsible for your actions, responsible for your people, responsible for your attitude, responsible for your leadership skills, and certainly responsible for your results.
As a leader, the only person you’re accountable to is yourself.
And if you pass on the same strategy and philosophy to your people, that THEY are…
• responsible for their actions
• responsible for their customers
• responsible for their attitude
• responsible for their sales skills
• responsible for their results
…your acceptance and respect as a leader will ensure positive growth.
If a salesperson takes responsibility for his or her knowledge, pipeline, customers, sales, income, and success, your job as a leader shifts from a paranoid accountability manager to an encouraging, supportive leader.
What’s the difference?
• Accountability sends the wrong message. It implies forced leadership and micro-managing. It has at its base “you are” and “you must” as a process. It’s “childish.”
• Responsibility sends the right message. It’s individualized and team-oriented. It’s “I am” and “I will” as a process. It’s “adult.”
• If I’m accountable, it’s less likely that I’ll ever do my best or be my best. Rather, I’ll do what’s necessary, and report at the deadline – or just after.
• I’m responsible has a chance to include character building and pride in my achievement and work.
• I’m accountable lowers morale and creates disdain on the part of salespeople.
Here is the most telling difference:
“You’re accountable” indicates a corporate directive, and an order.
“I’m responsible” indicates a personal decision, and a success opportunity.
As negative as accountability is, there is one place it fits. You are accountable to yourself. You face the accountability mirror of truth every morning and every evening – in your bathroom. You are accountable to yourself for your attitude, your actions, you’re your results.
And in the end, accountability will still be “on message” and erroneously rule the sales airwaves, even though what I have written is truth and reason.
Here are some specific examples of before and after the sale “value ideas.” Think about these and then create your own!
• Sharing industry best practices.
• Manufacturing components and offering plant safety tips.
• Medical devices to doctors and teaching bedside manner.
• Teaching clerks how to close sales when a customer comes in to buy using your coupon or voucher.
• Office supplies and teaching customer service to receptionists and accounting.
• Anything in favor of your customer that helps them increase productivity, communication, operations, morale, and especially profit.
OBVIOUS ANSWER: If you really want to deliver value, ASK YOUR CUSTOMER what he or she considers valuable. Whatever they say, do that, offer that, share that, communicate that, teach that, print that, and say that. In a nutshell, that’s value. Real value. Value perceived.
AM I THE LEADER I WANT TO BE? Leaders rarely get to evaluate themselves. Below is your opportunity to take a brief look in the mirror. Take a few moments and give yourself an honest response as to your present skill level.
NOTE WELL: If you only look at this list and don’t actually circle a number, you will not improve, nor will you have a guideline by which to do it. When you circle the numbers, you’re telling yourself where you are and giving yourself an opportunity to grow to where you want to be.
This is a self-evaluation of the basic elements of leadership. To determine where you stand, note the number to the right of each statement that represents your personal status.
(1=never, 2=rarely, 3=sometimes, 4=regularly, 5=all the time)
I maintain a consistent positive attitude. 1 2 3 4 5
I embrace change as opportunity. 1 2 3 4 5
I deploy courage. 1 2 3 4 5
I take risks. 1 2 3 4 5
I listen with the intent to understand. 1 2 3 4 5
I communicate to be understood. 1 2 3 4 5
I delegate and empower others. 1 2 3 4 5
I understand others. 1 2 3 4 5
I understand myself. 1 2 3 4 5
I understand my situation. 1 2 3 4 5
I am committed to being my best. 1 2 3 4 5
I administer with excellence. 1 2 3 4 5
I am able to recruit the best people. 1 2 3 4 5
I hire the best people. 1 2 3 4 5
I retain my best people. 1 2 3 4 5
I train everyone and myself. 1 2 3 4 5
I consistently motivate my team. 1 2 3 4 5
I consistently inspire my team. 1 2 3 4 5
I lead by example. 1 2 3 4 5
Total your noted numbers from the previous step.
85-95 You are the leader I want to be taken to. This book
will help you strengthen and reinforce every
aspect of your excellence.
75-84 You’re a good leader. Dedicated and focused.
You’re now ready to go from proficiency to
67-74 You’re a leader, slightly out of focus. The
strengths in this book will help you get
back to 20/20 vision.
59-66 You’re leading, but you lack high-level skills.
Dedicate yourself to mastering the fundamental
concepts in this book.
40-58 You’re struggling to lead. Read this book twice,
taking notes as you go, THEN make personal
plans to master the strengths in this book before
you assume any more leadership responsibilities.
GO BACK: Check the box to the left of any element where
you circled a 1, 2, or 3. Use the checked boxes to create
your personal game plan by creating an action plan for how
you will master each element you need to improve on.
Here are 12.5 real world connection strategies to eliminate cold calling. These are not “no brainers.” They’re “brainers!” They’re ideas and strategies that require smart, hard-working people to turn the strategies into money:
1. Build relationships and earn referrals. Visit existing customers. Offer ideas and help.
2. Use LinkedIn to make new connections. Use the “keyword” search feature to uncover prospects you never knew existed. Then connect without using the standard LinkedIn wording. Be original.
3. Ask your informal network of connections to recommend customers. Building and maintaining local and industry specific relationships are critical to building your success. Pinpoint people who respect and admire your ability, the same way you respect and admire theirs.
4. Network face-to-face at the highest level possible. Not an “after hours” cocktail party. Join high-level executive groups and get involved.
5. Join a business association – not a leads club. Someplace where owners gather.
6. Speak in public. All civic groups are eager to get a speaker for their weekly meeting. Be the speaker. If you give a value talk, a memorable talk, EVERY member of the audience will want to connect. You’ll have the potential to gain fifty “cold call” connections each time you speak.
7. Speak at trade shows. Why not get praise for the great speech you gave at the conference every time someone walks by your booth, instead of trying to get them to putt a ball into a plastic cup.
8. Write an article. Nothing breeds attraction like the written word. I am a living example of what writing can do to change a career. Get in front of people who can say yes to you and become known as an expert.
9. Write an industry white paper. CEOs want to create great reputations, keep customers loyal, keep employees loyal, have no problems, maintain safety, and make a profit. Write about how your industry does that and EVERYONE will want to read it (and meet with you). White paper, or brochure? You tell me… Which one gets you invited in the door? Which one earns you respect? Which one builds your reputation? And the ouch question: Which one are you using?
10. Give referrals. Yes, GIVE referrals. What better way to gain respect, cosmic debt, word-of-mouth advertising, and reputation? WARNING: This requires hard work.
11. Send a once a week, value-based message to existing and prospective customers. For the past decade, my weekly email magazine, Sales Caffeine, has been a major source of value to my customers and revenue to me. Where’s yours?
12. Contact current customers who aren’t using 100% of your product line. You have gold in your own back yard. No cold call needed. Call existing customers and get more of their business.
12.5 Reconnect with lost customers. This little used strategy will net you more results than any cold call campaign on the planet. It takes courage to connect, but once you discover “why” you lost them, you can create strategies to recover the account – often more than 50% of the time.