For our final 2 blogs in this series on sales management pain points, I want to discuss what is a very fundamental quality for someone’s successful conduct in life—that of virtues.
Perhaps more than other more average fields, you really need virtues in sales management. The bottom line: if you don’t clearly understand how a sales manager needs to be poised for the future, you reduce the chances of creating value and growth. It is for this purpose I have laid out these virtues.
These virtues are not innate qualities of human beings—they are qualities which, if put into practice, bring about a better life for the person and those around them. They are qualities of responsible behavior. I only point this out because virtues will require actively and consciously bringing them to be—they will not just “show up” in a person’s character.
New Realms of Possibility
As we’ve seen over endless time, our perception of reality changes with new technologies. Thousands of years ago, trade routes opened up new fields of action for people and led to the emergence of specific technologies, such as seafaring. Global trade also enlarged the field of action for humankind, while making the world smaller. The exchange of goods and knowledge was the crucial driving force for the spread of these technologies. With aviation and finally space travel, our realms of possibility were expanded yet again by completely new dimensions. Today, it is IT that is opening up new realms of possibility for us in very practical ways.
Technology a Part of Everything
Today we are entering a new dimension—technology is now bearing down on us, quite literally. Anyone who has looked into the future of medicine knows that technical implants and IT will have an instrumental role to play in that field. Biotechnology is yet another chapter in the future story of medicine, and is causing us to question our very understanding of what is human. But medicine is just one staging area for the technological revolution that will overshadow even the Industrial Revolution.
The financial sector is another area where technology is bearing down on us, and where IT has a key part to play.
All of this leads to a very crucial question: Are we handling technology correctly? What standards guide our thinking and action?
Freedom Requires Responsibility
As we’ve seen in countless examples through the years—automobiles and aircraft being 2 obvious examples—technology can bring incredible degrees of freedom. But with all freedom, it must also be accompanied by responsibility.
Recently this medium has been used by criminals and terrorists to broadcast heinous crimes. This is the sort of behavior which aptly demonstrates freedom without responsibility.
In sales management terms, technology gives freedom to look in on sales reps and monitor what they’re doing, in considerable detail. The responsibility factor enters in with what the sales manager does with that data: it can be used for heavy control—or it can be uses for actually enabling salespeople, as we will cover in more detail as we go.
The vast freedom brought about by today’s technology is what necessitates the virtues that I am laying out here. We need to have a responsible operating basis in order to proceed sanely and rationally with the broad array of technology available to us.
So that I am giving credit where credit is due, the pattern for these virtues goes back thousands of years, back to the Romans and from there back to the Greeks. They actually go back to Aristotle and Plato. For that reason you will see the Latin word for each virtue next to its English counterpart when first used.
Virtue 1: Wisdom (Latin: Sapientia)
What is wisdom? Contrary to what some might think, wisdom is not the same as intelligence. There are many extreme examples throughout history of despots who were highly intelligent but lacked any form of wisdom and were cruel and destructive as a result.
It could be said that wisdom is intelligence used with judgment.
In sales management, wisdom must be constantly exercised both in choosing people, and in leading them.
An example of how wisdom comes into play in sales management is in the way CRM is used. For example, a sales manager could say to a sales rep, “I see you only made 10 calls today, made 1 lead and created no new opportunities.” But depending on the person, use of such information might require a whole other approach—coaching and mentoring might have far better results than simply chastising the person.
Another part of that wisdom deals with when to be firm, and when to be more relaxed. If you’re constantly being firm and pushing on your team, you can exhaust them. On the other hand if you’re constantly relaxed and are actually too friendly, your team doesn’t respect you.
It should be pointed out that you’re not aiming for having your team fear you, but having them respect you.
Wisdom combined with technology (technology for forecasting and for achieving quotas) should result in activities. The end result is, you want them active.
Virtue 2: Fortitude (Latin: Fortitudo)
Our next virtue is fortitude, or courage.
The need for courage comes into play all throughout a sales manager’s job. As a sales manager you need to confront your team. At the same time, you need guts to confront your boss, the COO, the manager, the board, and the directors.
You need the fortitude to do such confronting—and the wisdom (from the 1st virtue) to communicate.
You must be able to confront both the strong and the weak members of your team. Oftentimes the strong members, your “stars” can be the harder ones to confront, because you might fear your best producers quitting. It’s always easier to go to the weak ones and tell them what they have to do—but fortitude requires being able to confront and handle both types.
It takes fortitude for many other things, too. Maybe you have to call a customer because a customer is ruining the salespeople, and he’s a big client and your salespeople need the help. It could be one of many, many things.
Stay tuned for Part 2, in which we’ll cover the remainder of these virtues.
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