Sales leaders need to remember that they too, must regularly upgrade their leadership skills.
There are two critical areas that will help you pump up your leadership quotient. The most effective ways are by networking with a peer who faces similar challenges and by enrolling in an executive coaching program.
As a former sales executive I always understood the importance of investing in my own development and the advantages of networking, and yet I always found myself too busy to do either. Between meetings, presentations, conferences, and emails I rarely had time to meet with customers. Luckily for me, the organizations I worked for always insisted on professional development because otherwise, it would have continued to be a low priority.
The reality is, networking with peers becomes more difficult the higher you rise in an organization. Most companies don’t have sales leadership programs for their most senior sales managers. Therefore development opportunities must be sourced from outside.
Since leaving industry, I have learned that having a well-established professional network of executives was critical to building my business and a great way to ensure career security. I strongly advise clients to plan at least one networking lunch a month. Realistically most senior sales leaders don’t engage in networking on a regular basis.
It is crucial for sales leaders to raise their leadership quotient since the sales force is not only the company’s most important promotional resource but also usually has the greatest number of employees. Therefore sales executives can benefit the most from improving their leadership skills.
The Old Way
As a sales leader, I would enroll in a 2-3 day leadership course offered by a well-known training organization. The reality was these courses were nothing more than a boondoggle. I would look for a nice location, and get away for a few days. As soon as I got back to my desk and found 400 emails and a packed week of meetings waiting, 90% of what was learned was quickly forgotten. That is the inherent problem with leadership courses offered by big-name training organizations. There is no sustainability built into the program.
In today’s reality, it is increasingly difficult to justify the costly $10,000 price tag of a weeklong Executive Leadership Training Course that has little ROI.
The New Way
Through executive coaching, I believe that sales executives will emerge as the winners in this very competitive and difficult economy.
Now more than ever, they must harness the power of executive coaching to pump up their leadership.