My position that salespeople are the “entrepreneurs within the enterprise” has been a thread through much of my writing. I have stressed how much we should value them, for no company can exist without them; a company lives and dies by the production of its sales force.
But should we simply issue orders to our salespeople and send them on their way? They have a tough job which relatively few can do. As a leader it is far more valuable to also act as a role model and lead by example.
A Real-World Example
A fantastic example of this kind of behavior was set by Apple founder Steve Jobs. As an innovator and entrepreneur he began what later became a multi-billion-dollar enterprise—from his garage. As a salesperson he was without peer; he had to sell the entire world on an entirely new computing platform and, in fact, a whole new concept in computing. And it certainly didn’t stop with the original Macintosh: he again successfully sold his innovative concepts with the introduction of the iMac, again with the iPod, once again with the iPhone, and yet again with the iPad. How successful was Jobs as a salesperson? History certainly tells the tale, and it continues to be told to this day.
Jobs demonstrated the personality, the confidence and the bearing it took to be a great salesperson. He demanded—and got—a superior level of brilliance consistently from his staff. And his example has been carried on far beyond his own company; millions across the globe have closely studied and modeled their enterprises after his example and probably will until the end of time.
Been In Their Shoes
Leading by example shows those working for you that you are not afraid to go where they are going—that you have indeed fearlessly done so, are doing so and will do so in the future. When you issue orders, they carry far more weight than they would if this were not the case. It becomes a matter of, “I’ve done it—so can you” instead of “Do what I say, not what I do.”
How About You?
Do You Lead by Example?
Most of the time the founder of a company was its original salesperson—in fact was the original everything. Do the people who work for you know that? Do they know the work, time, money and energy it took to get your company up and running? Are they aware of what was done to close those initial sales?
Right this minute your salespeople are moving through sales cycles and going for closes. They could be inspired and possibly benefit from knowing details on how you did it, and how you continue to do it (I still find myself selling my product as I have done from the beginning).
Beyond just sales, you are most likely an entrepreneur and an innovator, too. That’s the kind of spirit a salesperson must have to achieve success. When you Lead by example, you will impart some of that personality to those who could really use it.
You value your salespeople. Lead by example; show them how far and how successful they can actually be. They’ll thank you with ever-increasing sales.