Build a Bigger Network and Increase Your Market Value
Every sales leader needs to consider their market value. Not only should sales leaders regularly evaluate and determine areas for growth for their staff, but also for themselves. When I talk about market value, I am referring to the two critical areas that will help you increase your value to your organization and as well as up your personal value. Your market value appreciates as you become a better leader and have a large professional network.
As a former sales executive I was always in a tough spot. Although I cognitively understood the importance of investing in my own development and the advantages of networking, I always found myself too busy to do either. Between meetings, presentations, conferences and emails I rarely had time to even meet with customers. It was lucky for me that the presidents I worked with always insisted that I invest in my own professional development. Left to my own devices, investing in my professional development would have continued to be a low priority. The reality is, that the higher up you go in an organization there is less of an opportunity to network with peers. Most organizations don’t have development programs for their most senior managers, so one needs to look outside the organization for development programs.
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 both friends and clients to plan at least one networking lunch a month. Despite my well-advised suggestion, I know few are actually following it.
Interestingly, if you look at the CEO or Presidents in your organization chances are they have a much better understanding of the importance of on-going leadership development and networking programs. In fact, there are many great options open to CEO’s for networking opportunities, for example, TEC (The Executive Committee) in Canada or Vistage around the world. Groups like YPO (Young Presidents Organization) provide CEO’s an opportunity to freely discuss organizational concerns and receive feedback from other CEO’s. YPO is a wonderful network that enables professionals to learn and become better leaders. With membership in the thousands world wide, these forums have a profound impact on decision making, personal and professional growth and reinforce a commitment to action.
Take a look at your marketing counterpart. The marketing industry has many associations, which provide great networking opportunities for marketing executives. Marketers also have agency relationships that allow them opportunities to brainstorm with other marketing experts. As well executives, in the areas of Finance and IT also have their own associations and networking groups readily available.
Why Would Sales Executives Need Networking Groups?
In most B2B organizations, the sales force is the most important and expensive promotional resource. The sales force is the major revenue-generating arm of the company. Outside of the President or CEO, the sales force has the largest concentration of people. The sales organization is a company’s largest promotional expense and the group that brings in revenue. Since this department employs the most people, there is a need for top leadership. So, if there were one group of executives who can benefit the most from improving their leadership and networking skills I would argue that Sales Executive would top that list.
Most sales leaders are hesitant to share their strategies with peers in their own industry. Although you may feel your problems are unique to your business, there are many other sales leaders with similar issues. Here is a top 10 list of sales challenges. I would venture that a majority of these challenges are relevant to all sales executives.
- Turning your vision into a reality
- Hiring and retaining top performing sales people
- Increasing sales productivity and positivity
- Increasing accountability
- Executing with marketing plans with excellence
- Designing sales compensation and recognition programs
- Turning the sales strategy to organization action
- Improving sales force effectiveness
- Developing a great sales management team
- Measuring performance
What Are Your Options For Effective Leadership Development?
My boss would insist I sign up for an annual leadership course offered by either the AMA or other well known training organizations. I would look for a nice location, like Hilton Head, South Carolina and get away for a few days. What started out as a boss-pleasing activity, in fact became an enjoyable opportunity! What I found was that I got to meet a lot of different people and the time away from the office allowed me to process information and gain a fresh perspective. As part of curriculum you are asked to build an action plan to bring back to your organization. I know my action plans lasted until I got back to my desk and found 400 emails waiting and a packed week of meetings following my training. All too soon I found the excitement and new tools learned from my course slipping away.
How to maximize your investment in training?
If you attend a lecture or a 2-3 day course 90% of what you learn is forgotten within 30 days unless it’s reinforced. That is the inherent problem with leadership courses offered by big name training organizations. I believe that the key to effective learning is a combination of one-to-one coaching, learning by doing and group discussion.
In today’s reality, budget cuts make it increasing difficult to justify the costly $10,000 price tag of a week-long Executive Leadership Training Course. These courses are not only ineffective in terms of knowledge retained but also in time investment.
Is there a solution that enables Sales Leaders to both network and improves their leadership skills?
Examining the needs of the Sales Executive, we developed a networking group called the Sales Executive Leadership Forum. This group is modeled after various successful networking organizations. Our main competitive edge is that we use Sales 2.0 technologies to network people together from the comfort of their work base. Understanding the time pressures that sales executives’ face we have designed a monthly tele-forum-networking group to discuss and learn new approaches to solving key sales challenges.
There are 3 reasons why you should consider joining the Sales Executive Leadership Forum:
1. Both the forum and the one-on-one coaching are all conducted by telephone. There is a relatively small time investment of 2.5 hours per month. No travel costs and time out of the office traveling to meetings. The overall cost of the program is less than $6000/year.
2. You gain access to world-class coaches who will help you develop and hold you accountable for building and executing your leadership plan.
3. The small group forums offer many advantages including; getting to know and build relationships with up to 10 other sales executives; a confidential forum to exchange ideas; peer to peer learning and sharing of best practices; and a dynamic learning environment that is personalized to meet your needs.
To build your professional network, improve your leadership skills and increase your market value, invest in your SELF
“Harness the Power of Collective Wisdom”