Leadership

5 Components of Emotional Intelligence

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As sales leaders, one of the hottest topics in leadership is emotional intelligence. A dictionary definition: the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one's emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

This characteristic is becoming the defining factor for great leaders today. Beyond “handling interpersonal relationships judiciously,” what exactly is it?

This post from Addicted2Success breaks down emotional intelligence into 5 key components. As a leader, it is important to know these components and to develop your skills to support them.

Here is a condensed summary of the 5 components from the article:

1. Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the ability to acknowledge in real-time your own emotions and passions and the effect those have on others. You know the impact your emotions have on your behavior and that they can be contagious. This means that an emotionally intelligent leader will keep a positive and inspiring tone to their emotions to motivate their team and keep a calm office. 

2. Self-Regulation

Understanding your emotions and their effect is one thing, but a truly important aspect of emotional intelligence is self-regulation, the ability to channel or refocus potentially negative emotions into constructive action. For example, fear doesn’t lead to a failure to act but inspires a leader to tackle the thing they fear.

3. Internal Motivation

A key component of emotional intelligence is self-motivation. This means that a person does not need external validation or factors such as money or status to drive their work. A self-motivated person will have naturally high standards, optimism, and passion towards achieving their purpose. This, in turn, motivates individuals working under such a leader.

4. Empathy

Empathetic leaders can relate to what other people are going through and can adapt their approach accordingly. Empathy in a leader means they listen to their team, both what they are saying verbally but also non-verbal cues such as tone and body language. This is critical for a good leader, as it creates an inclusive team with engaged and loyal members.

5. Social Skills

Social skills can include building rapport, team building, and networking. Social skills are important for dealing with awkward situations, conflict resolution, and motivating and praising team members.

How do you stack up? The evolution in leadership over the past 30 years has been remarkable. The days of military drill sergeants are gone. Now it is up to CRO’s to use a broad level of emotional intelligence to drive their sales team to success. If you are looking for help in these areas, from building your own skill set to understanding your team’s emotional intelligence, we can help.

Your Sales Team Starting Lineup

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Summer is upon us and baseball is in the air. How would you handle your sales team if you had to submit a baseball batting order? Let’s list our starting 9 sales positions.

As a CRO, you are responsible for building your sales team for success. Obviously, there are many variables that drive your roster decisions, but you will need to put together your strongest starting lineup. Here is a baseball lineup based on your team’s sales positions.

1 - Marketing Rep
Hopefully marketing falls under your purview. Marketing sets the table just like a leadoff hitter. You need productivity here to drive your run/revenue production. Bunt singles, walks, etc., we just need good leads to be put in play for the rest of the lineup.

2 - Prospector
The 2 spot belongs to your prospectors - the salespeople who make contact and advance your leads. We can’t have strikeouts here; we need this player to build momentum for the team and pipeline. The prospector should have some revenue/run production so and occasional RBI/closed deal is helpful.

3 - Business Development Manager
You must have your best hitter/closer in the 3 hole. This salesperson closes deals while maintaining your best closing percentage (batting average). They understand selling and successfully beat your toughest competition (pitchers). They aren’t necessarily home run hitters, but they produce RBIs (closed deals) and help set the pace for the rest of your lineup.

4 - Hunter
Your hunters are in the cleanup spot as they swing for the fences. Flashy, strong and competitive, these salespeople close the big deals with big accounts. Yes, they will strike out at times, but they never get cheated at the plate. They get the big deal and then get ready to swing on the next big deal.

5 - Farmer
Your hunters don’t always drive in all the runs which is why you need the farmers in the 5 position. Farmers have some pop in their bats. They can hit some homers on occasion, but it is typically with an existing account. They help improve your revenue by driving in deals the hunters may have missed. Though not as flashy as hunters, farmers can drive in a lot of runs/revenue for your team…they are not to be overlooked.

6 - Channel Manager
At this point in the lineup we need some slap singles and some speed. Channel managers work through their distributors, representatives, value-added resellers, etc. Channel managers aren’t necessarily driving in runs, but they can respond quickly to their channel to assist in closing deals. They keep your company’s solutions at the top of the mind of their channel to drive revenue over time.

7 - Account Manager
This is a defensive specialist whom we hope can provide a hit or two on occasion. Their primary role is to improve customer retention. Putting the ball in play is constructive in the 7 spot. Keeping our customers happy while looking for referrals, or other revenue opportunities, is their focus.

8 - Customer Service
Yes, this position should report to the CRO. We are not looking for run, or revenue, production this low in the batting order. We simply need them to fix problems at our customer’s end. The goal is not to hit into double plays and not to lose customers. Note: a strong customer service person can preserve endangered revenue…do not underestimate the value of this role.

9 - Evangelist
The 9 spot is your second leadoff hitter. They can start a middle inning rally that leads to many runs and more revenue. Similarly, they can cover a lot of ground in the sales world talking about your Differentiating Value and, dare I say it, your solution’s features and benefits. They will spark revenue production, sometimes when you least expect it.

The CRO is the manager and the one responsible for consistent production from these positions. Many teams do not have all of these hitters simply due to size or structure. However, as you build your team for revenue/run production, think of the hitters you need today to be successful. Your lineup will build out as success drives your lineup’s expansion.

If you need help in building your lineup, we can help!

Millennials-Too Much, Too Soon

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Do Millennials and Gen Z expect to be in the C-suite too soon? It appears so. Also, that is Gen Z…if you are still trying to understand Millennials, better buckle up as Gen Z is now in the workplace.

From Human Resource Executive:

A recent survey by InsideOut Development, a workplace coaching firm, finds that 75 percent of Gen Z members believe they should be promoted within their first year on the job, while 32 percent believe they should get a promotion within their first six months.

There is something to be said for aspiring to climb the corporate ladder. However, the promotions that many of them seek are truly beyond their reach at this point in their career. This desire to ascend quickly in the company does appear to be common to the Millennial generation.

As a CRO, you need to make sure you have a plan for handling the younger generations’ desire to rise within the company. This aspiration is present from your initial hiring process so there are three adjustments to make for these generations.

  1. Discuss career path in the interview
    Retention starts in the interview process before you hire a new salesperson. You do not need to have a career path for the candidate laid out in fine detail. However, you should be able to sketch out a general path for successful employees to move up in the company.

  2. Increase the frequency of reviews
    Many companies avoid reviews due to the thought that positive reviews lead to mandatory raises. Not so, you can conduct performance reviews separate from compensation reviews. The younger generations are used to voluminous feedback. Bi-annual reviews provide a structured format for continued employee development.

  3. Assess for motivations and rewards
    One component of our assessments provides in-depth measurements of a person’s motivational pattern and reward structure. As a CRO, you will know if that salesperson is driven to lead, driven to sell, driven towards both. In conjunction, you will know what rewards them. For some, self-improvement and advancement are more important that money.

The key is to keep a pulse on your salesperson’s enjoyment of the job and near-term advancement goals. This awareness has always been a component of successful sales leadership. The younger generations have grown up with ubiquitous feedback. They have short response times and a need for frequent guidance from their managers. In a way, the younger generation’s needs will help you become a better CRO.

3 takeaways for dealing with Millennial and Gen Z salespeople:

  1. Stay focused on a career path for this role even as you are interviewing candidates

  2. Set a 6 month schedule for performance reviews and anticipate weekly debriefs in between

  3. Use assessments to understand the motivational-reward structure of your salespeople

3 Tips for Coaching Millennials

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There is a vast digital divide between Baby Boomers/Gen X sales leaders and Millennial salespeople. We hear stories about this divide frequently in our RoundTables. So how can you be more effective in handling your younger sales team?

Selling Power offers up an excellent article with 3 suggestions for you to improve your coaching with your sales team. Coaching is a critical piece of any CRO’s responsibilities. The generation gap creates a “digital divide” to use the author’s excellent phrase.

Here is a quick summary of the 3 tips:

Tip #1: Use structure and guidelines.
Many millennials grew up in an environment where their day was carefully plotted and scheduled, with many after-school activities, sports, etc. Their educational system emphasized standardized test scores, resulting in teaching to exams – a process that necessitated instruction in a specific structure and format.

For a considerable portion of millennial sales reps, hearing the phrase “figure it out” can be alarming. When your formative years had a built-in structure and clear guidelines, you might naturally find the open waters of uncertainty and vagueness disturbing.

When coaching sales reps of this generation, use structure and guidelines – both in the sales coaching session itself and the skills and accounts being coached to.

Tip #2: Make technology your friend.
To paraphrase Bane from the recent Batman film franchise, millennials were born in technology, molded by it. This extends into the generation’s daily life, where a large portion will look up how to do something via YouTube instructional videos, for example.

You, too, can use technology to your coaching advantage with millennials. 

Tip #3: Give consistent and frequent feedback.
It’s inaccurate to say millennials have poorer interpersonal communications than previous generations. Rather, the form of communication has changed. Rather than face-to-face, much conversing takes place via text, social media platforms, and other forms of digital communication.

In fact, there’s even more communication in the digital, global society than we’ve ever had before – it’s just that less of it occurs face-to-face. Given this increased, real-time discussion, particularly against the background noted in our first point, your millennial sales reps will expect consistent, frequent feedback on their performance.

In regards to the second tip, we use a tool that greatly increases your coaching effectiveness. The software is SkillFitness and it is a mobile, video-based skills mastery platform that transforms how teams perform at a higher level to deliver business outcomes. The software, which runs as an app on your phone, is the perfect bridge between the sales leader and his or her younger sales team.

What Makes for a Good Leader?

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Matrix corporate structure. Millennial mindsets. Artificial intelligence. Remote communication. As the business world evolves, some core, fundamental traits transcend the changing workplace.

Monster.com offers up an article highlighting 10 attributes of successful, strong leaders (they use the word manager which we tend to avoid). For a taste:

Problem solving

Companies rely on problem solvers to navigate unexpected challenges, says Kathy Robinson, founder of Boston career coaching firm TurningPoint. The best managers don’t just tackle issues, though—they also identify weak spots before serious problems arise.

We assess for this trait as it is critical to successful leadership. Any CRO knows that leading salespeople requires you to see problems before they take root. The reason is simple; your revenue success depends on it.

Empathy

Being able to read a person’s moods is a core quality of a great manager, which may explain why a whopping 96% of workers said empathy is important for employers to demonstrate in BusinessSolver’s 2018 State of Workplace Empathy survey. In addition, research from the Center for Creative Leadership found that bosses who show empathy to the people they manage are seen as better performers by their own managers.

Empathy is a component of Emotional Intelligence which is the focal point of much hiring today. Communication is only 7% verbal (i.e. words) while the remaining 93% is nonverbal. That nonverbal space is where empathy provides the leader the ability to read his or her people. The inability, or unwillingness, to read these signs is a significant weakness in any modern-day leader.

Lastly, the one trait that has charged to the forefront of leadership today.

Creativity

Top managers—like top-performing employees—generate out-of-the-box ideas that push businesses forward. These individuals introduce new strategies that improve their company’s workflow, productivity, and bottom line, says Karen Litzinger, a career coach in Pittsburgh. Put simply, they’re change agents.

Disruption is prevalent in almost all business markets today. The complementary trait for handling disruption is creativity. This trait provides the leader with the ability to move in new directions to stay ahead of the disruptive forces in play today. Stodgy, unchanging leadership will not survive. The ability to think outside the box in dealing with paradigm-shifting disruption is mission critical today.

If you are looking to enhance your leadership abilities, why not consider the RoundTable today?

Leader vs. Cheerleader

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Both contain the word “leader” but they are not equal.  Working with organizations all over the world opens the door to leadership models that run the gauntlet from good to bad to ugly.

Cultures can be toxic when products never work, core values are flawed, employees are abused, etc., but the one component you typically spot first is where cheerleaders are masquerading as leaders.

Most execs today have had enough managers in their careers to know there is a significant difference in leadership effectiveness and those differences can have massive impacts on the overall performance of the organization.  Those managers we worked for - and would gladly do that again - typically had the best organizational traction with delivering success as well as motivating exceptional employee performance.   The other group of bosses – the ones we would never work with again – always seemed to survive but could never cast a leadership shadow even on insignificant issues. 

Leaders
The best street level definition for leader we use in our RoundTable programs is simple: someone people will follow.  Any manager or executive candidate has a track record.  Find out if the people who reported to the candidate would ever volunteer to do that again.  The tools to locate those individuals are available today (clearly start with LinkedIn).  Strong leader profiles are always supported by their previous direct reports along with descriptions like honest, fair, responsive, challenging, demanding, direct, clear, etc.  Any absence of feedback about the individual or a “no” to question about another tour as a direct report are major flags that you are looking at a cheerleader.

Cheerleaders
This profile is a chameleon in that they find ways to take credit for everything positive and avoid anything going the wrong way.  They are the perpetual “success survivors” even when the organization is circling the drain.  The employees view them as empty suits meaning they only have their personal agenda about “how do I win” on their mind.  No career is burdened with only success outcomes – real leaders have all taken hits and had to navigate recoveries.  That is what establishes their leadership profile.  This is the first topic to explore and listen to how they address their role.  If your BS meter locks on tilt with their answer, you have the wrong leader candidate.

Peer Groups Provide the Power of the Pack

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Maybe the most important aspect of being a member of a peer group is the opportunity to share challenges.

When you are a CRO, you are expected to have the answers…to almost all difficult questions. The most important topic is revenue. CRO’s are measured by their ability to grow profitable revenue in the shortest amount of time.

We start each RoundTable with a discussion of the number 1 challenge for each CRO. The process here is bolstered by the power of the pack. Think of a wolf pack and how they work cooperatively to achieve their goals (hunting, of course, being the prime example). The same principle is in effect in the RoundTable. CRO’s, from different companies, markets, industries, etc., bring the power of their knowledge to help a member achieve a specific goal.

There is power in peer-level wisdom. Imagine having a team of the revenue experts that you can use as your own advisory group. The group usually has someone with experience in the challenges faced by the different members. Experience and expertise are key to any RoundTable meeting. What effect would your very own revenue advisory group have on your company’s performance?

Coaching for Qualifying

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As a CRO, you have many responsibilities, but one not to overlook is a concerted effort to coach your team. CRO’s are force multipliers - your ability to impart wisdom to your team will make your team more successful. The best ROI for your coaching time with your salespeople is qualifying.

Qualifying is the backbone of all successful selling. There are 5 stages of our Critical Qualifying Questions (CQQ’s) that we espouse in our selling system. However, no matter what selling system you use, your team must be strong qualifiers to succeed. The responsibility for growing that qualifying ability falls on you.

Selling Power has a quick-read, archived article that describes some fundamental questions your team should be asking of any prospect. The author compares qualifying prospects to investigative journalism. From the article (emphasis mine):

In many respects, qualifying prospects is like investigative journalism. The reporter (or, in this case, the salesperson) has to find out the facts of the story, based on who, what, when, where, why, and how. That means coming up with answers to the following questions:

  • Does the customer actually have a need for our products or services?

  • Can the customer afford to buy what we’re selling?

  • Is my primary contact the person who has the ability to make a buying decision, or is this person just gathering information? If not, who does have the authority to purchase?

All qualifying starts with a need so the author is on target. The CQQ’s from our Revenue as a System include Message, Motivation, Money, Methodology, and Market. When you are coaching your team, always keep the qualifying topic at the forefront.

Leadership for Executives

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

Leadership obviously has multiple components, but our years of RoundTable experience suggests there is one cornerstone component that stands alone.

Yes, toxic leader profiles and/or ridiculous business plans can neutralize any business opportunity, but the one missing component we observe with increasing frequency today is the lack of clear accountability. At CRO Executive RoundTable, we define a leader as someone people will follow.  When we meet with member company employees to apply this definition, two discussion topics typically evolve:  accountability and the 3 T’s profile.  These two are directly connected to overall success.

Accountability

Many executives have been trained, coached etc. to believe consensus is leadership.  The goal is to get ‘buy in’ by all participants but the real world outcome is better described as management by lack of ownership.   Margaret Thatcher said it best:

“Consensus: “The process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values, and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner: ‘I stand for consensus?”

Accountability does put focus and varying levels of stress into the organization but success is not achieved by complacency or consensus.   If complacency is in control, the culture will deny, deflect and/or destroy all efforts for change.  Everyone is operating in their comfort zone while the business is consuming resources just circling the wagons…which may end up being the precursor to circling the drain.

3 T’s Profile

The profile that makes Accountability a leadership skill are combinations of Trust, Transparency and Timeliness.  These are almost boundless research topics but the employee engagement discussions are less complicated.

Trust - is earned; employees want to know senior leadership is more than committed than they are to delivering the results.  Execs wanting to be “consensus scorekeepers” are often viewed as just being along for the ride and producing zero contribution.

Transparency – employees know some topics are not fully disclosable but they want to know – or be able to ask – about all other matters that impact growth and success.  Executives that face questions and issues head on are aligned with where employees want to be.

Timeliness – we live in a 24/7 world today.  Employees don’t want to learn more about their company from the web than from leadership.  Employees are the top-tier stakeholders in any business so putting other individuals or groups first is a breach with direct performance engagement consequences.

Conclusion These are not hard tasks to understand or deliver except when effective leadership is not the top priority.  That may appear to be an oxymoron but it is clear to employees.

Business Is Just a Hockey Game

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Sales Perspective from the State of Hockey

Being headquartered in the State of Hockey (Thank You MN Wild) is either a plus or a minus depending on your interest in ice hockey.  Having invested decades of time watching youth association to professional level games, it is clear there are similarities that go beyond the scoring (above or below budget performance). 

Here are 3 items to consider getting ready for 2019:

  1. Talent – Teams with more talent win more games.  The talent part is a team issue – a composite of skating, stick handling, shooting and goaltending skills determine the outcomes.  What critical skills are needed/missing on your team to outperform the market?

  2. Speed vs. skill - Teams need both.  Speed players can move the puck fast but stick handlers can be just as productive.  Companies are always attracted to the big bio candidates but good stick handlers get things done too.  Stick handlers may have less speed but they have the peripheral vision (anticipate disruption) needed to keep moving forward.  Sometimes it is easier to find good stick handlers with strong team profiles.

  3. Adversity - What happens if you fall behind?  Normally that means you were not prepared (skill or disruption issues) or you underestimated the competition…or both.  Not a lot of options once the game (year) starts.  Typically, your top scoring lines get more shifts.  Bottom line – you leverage your talent and work your way out of the hole.  And yes, some coaches (CRO’s) get fired if the recovery effort doesn’t deliver in time.

Best of (Revenue) Luck to all CRO’s in 2019…and keep your stick on the ice!