The business-to-business sales profession is rapidly changing and evolving. Working in more complex environments with sophisticated solutions demands more business acumen, a greater understanding of personal client agendas, knowledge of proposed client outcomes, and a greater level of financial familiarity. As a result, it is more difficult to achieve top performance and remain relevant. The performance bar has also been raised by an emphasis on Thought Leadership. It’s a small wonder why the average tenure of a sales leader has fallen to 19-22 months.
If you don’t remain relevant, you risk obsolescence.
The news doesn’t get better. Unfortunately, many sales leaders are failing to invest in themselves. If you aren’t investing in your personal development, you run the risk of continued decline—which will manifest itself in your team as well.
Many sales leaders are looking for ways to improve the performance of their teams but fail to recognize that the investment yielding the greatest return in overall performance is in themselves.
Every great leader is first a great teacher and a great coach. They are able to diagnose challenges and improve skills among their team. They lead from the front, demonstrate key skills and knowledge, and constantly improvise to accomplish the mission. They don’t create better team members…they create future leaders.
Benjamin Franklin stated it well, ”Empty the coins of your purse into your mind, and your mind will fill your purse with coins.” When was the last time you truly studied a book on leadership, business, or sales? When did you conduct an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses as a leader? What areas of business would you like to learn more about? How has the selling environment changed and, more importantly, how does it require you to change?
Top performers in any field are always looking for ways to improve their skills and knowledge. The margin for winning versus losing is narrower than ever. Feedback is also incredibly important.
Reflect on your last performance review or professional assessment; in what areas can you improve? What are your plans for doing so? If you reflect on the last year, what would have made a difference in your performance? What would you have changed if you could?
Now that you have assessed yourself, pick 3 things that you can immediately work to improve. Once you ask the tough questions, the answers appear. Never has more knowledge been available to those that seek to invest in themselves. Books, podcasts, online resources, peers, functional leaders within your organization, client contacts, and training resources are readily available. Make the conscious choice to pursue them.
Investing in yourself will yield continued relevance, enhanced leadership skills, and greater returns…for your team.