I've often been asked by sales people what they should focus on in order succeed within the structure of their company and in the mind of their sales manager. I've also been asked by sales managers to help learn to communicate better with their sales people on what their expectations are.
What it all boils down to is good communications skills on the part of both sides.
Being a good "sales citizen" requires many of the same communications skills that make good sales people; knowing the prospects "Motive and Pain" and creating a solution for it. Being a good "sales management citizen" requires many of the same habits as being a good "sales citizen".
Here are some suggestions on what you need to focus on as a Sales Person to be successful. Ironically, the list is the same in terms of what a good Sales Manager needs to communicate to his/her sales people that will allow them to achieve the success we are all looking for.
1. Know and support the companies goals. As a sales person, Align yourself with the goals and values of your boss' and the company's. Make your boss' priorities your priorities. As a sales manager you need to help your people know what the mission is and then set goals to support it.
2. Know how you'll be evaluated. As a sales person, know precisely which skills, behaviors and accomplishments you will be judged on and rewarded for. As a sales manager, identify areas of improvement for each of your reports and provide a training/development program to allow your staff to improve their skills.
3. Be dependable. As a sales manager, don't subscribe to the philosophy "do as I say not as I do!" Do what you say you're going to do. As a sales person, make it a habit to under-promise and over-deliver. Make sure you set expectations that you can fulfill!
4. Project positive energy. As a sales person don't be the one to whine or criticize the boss or company direction. Be positively inclined: the person everyone wants to be around. If you can't support the mission and be positive you may need to move on. For sales managers a negative influence will spoil everyone else... take corrective action or "change players".
5. Make your sales manager or sales people look good. As a sales person, finish your work on time and with a high level of professionalism. Bring your sales manager ideas that will help him/her and the department and offer to take charge and implement them. As a sales manager don't take credit for what you didn't do! Give credit to your people for their good work and ideas.
6. No Excuses!- Take responsibility for your mistakes by focusing on what you've learned rather than what you've done wrong. For example, "I think this deal could have been won if we'd gotten the real decision maker's buy-in early on," or "Next time I would talk more with the end-users up-front..."
7. Be organized, set priorities. As a sales person, plan your next day before you leave work. Rank your tasks by urgency and importance and make a point of doing at least the top two items on your list. As a sales manager, help your team plan and hold them accountable for getting it done.
8. Be on time. Arriving for work or meetings on time (even early) shows you're enthusiastic, dependable and able to manage your life effectively. Both parties need to have respect for each others time and make meetings and time spent together productive.
9. Help solve the problem. As a sales person, don't run to the boss with every question you have or setback you encounter. Think things through first. If you must report a problem to the boss, develop possible solutions to present. As a sales manager encourage your people to come to you with solutions and support their ideas. They can become problem solvers and will use less of your time.
10. Broaden your horizons. As a sales person take advantage of company-sponsored training courses and volunteer for projects in areas outside your everyday expertise. As a sales manager make development programs available to your people.
11. Stay informed, know what's happening. Keep abreast of industry and company trends by reading trade journals and attending professional association events.
12. Stay Technically informed. As a sales person, stay current with technological, legal and knowledge advances in your area. Upgrade your skills and learn new ones. As a sales manager use technology to make your people more efficient.
13. Be courteous. Show respect and loyalty to your sales manager/sales people and speak well of her/them to others.
14. Be flexible. Change is inevitable. Companies need people who can adapt and go with the flow. Resisting change defends the status quo which most of the time will not work!
15. Take care of your health. When you're run-down, productivity and ambition suffer -- as does your image.
16. Leave your personal life at the door. Using your co-workers as therapists not only hurts productivity; it damages your credibility and can contaminate your work relationships (even if people seem sympathetic). Sales managers need to have outside confidants or coaches to discuss their problems with and not with their people!
17. Go beyond the call of duty. Take on added challenges, put in extra hours, and never use the phrase, "That's not in my job description."
18. Be a team player. Show your sales people and sales manager that you have their best interests at heart by being empathetic and offering to help out when they need it. As a manager don't just criticize but offer solutions.
19. Take a break now and then. A clear head and balanced life can give you energy and perspective.
20. Look and act promotable. Don't let anyone think you work because you have to.
21. Find a mentor. Most successful people find both a mentor and a support group. Seek out help from others and don't ever be afraid to admit that you "may not know it all"!
This is a good starting point and will help to build "good sales citizenship" for all!
Action Step: Evaluate your self on the preceeding 20 items and make plans on how to improve each of them. Establish 5 "to do" items that you can do immediatly to be a better "Sales Citizen".