Tag Archives: Dan Swift

Dear Sales Leader: Read. Digest. Apply.

If empathy is the ability to experience some of the feelings of pain that another person is feeling, then compassion is the ability to translate that feeling into action. Empathy and compassion are two qualities that can fundamentally transform the growth trajectory of your sales organization.

Dear Sales Leader, For the sake of your people: Read. Digest. Apply.

1. Get to know your people. They are human beings. They have lives outside the office. Respect that. If they have small kids, perhaps they’d appreciate a little flexibility on that Monday 9am or Friday 3pm sales meeting. Particularly during the summer months. Assume the best at all times. Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Provide some breathing room, and you’ll receive their support 10x in return. A salesperson is not a number. Don’t treat her like that. Get to know each individually and as a group. What gets each of them out of bed every morning? What role does each of them play on the team? Trust me, they all play a role.

2. Be vulnerable. Especially if you have just started a leadership role at a new company. Sure, you’ve worked in many great companies and been super successful at those companies. But you haven’t done beans at this company yet. Sure, you have years and years of experience. You’ll have the opportunity to apply what’s relevant down the road. Right now, accept and publicly share that you need their help getting up to speed. You need their help understanding the business, the market, the product, the challenges, what’s been tried before and what has not. Be super-inquisitive. Don’t be afraid to ask why things are done a certain way if something doesn’t make sense at first glance. But remember, maybe there is a valid reason for it. Once you have absorbed it all, only then can you add real value. While you are doing this, continue getting to know your people.

See also: 6 Tips to Augment Sales and Prospecting

3. Walk in their shoes. Don’t just say: “I wouldn’t make you do anything that I wouldn’t do myself.” Actually go do it. You might learn a few things. Assign yourself a few accounts. Do some prospecting. Book some meetings. Take the call from that frustrated client. Take the feedback to the cross-functional partners. Close a deal. More importantly, close it out in Salesforce (or whatever CRM you use). Is it an easy process for your pepole? Experience a typical day walking in their shoes. Only then can you be truly emphatic. Titles don’t make leaders. Actions do.

4. Be there for them. Listen. This is important. Genuinely be there for them. If you have done 1), 2) and 3), then they will come to you as their leader. They will look for your guidance, help and support. If you have done 1), 2) and 3) well, you may find that your role as a sales leader morphs into somewhat of a counselor. That’s okay. Our role as sales leaders is to spend 90% of our time watching and listening. It is in these moments that you can apply your years of experience. Apply it. Share it. Leverage it. There will be times when your people are frustrated, and they just need to talk. Be there for them. There will be times when things are happening outside of work, things that they are dealing with. Apply empathy, give them some space, some flexibility, some breathing room. Nine times out of 10 they will thank you for it. Nine times out of 10 they will share with you what’s happening in their lives. You may even be given the priceless opportunity to provide advice that will genuinely affect that person’s life. That’s what gets me out of bed every morning. Too often we underestimate the power of a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

5. Earn the right to coach. If you have done 1), 2), 3) and 4) well, then you’ll earn the right. Your role as a sales leader is to make your people more productive and successful (in my opinion, both personally and professionally). Get out in the field with them. How else can you provide in-the-moment coaching? Newsflash: It’s often the tiny tweaks that you suggest after a client call or meeting that can translate into game-changing performance. Let people leverage your professional network. You’ve been in business for many years and worked for all those amazing companies, remember. Why have them struggle to find a way into the decision makers at their target companies, if someone in your network could provide a warm introduction? Be compassionate.

6. Celebrate success. Whether big, or small, celebrate it. And remember, it’s not just about the numbers. What are the biggest challenges facing each of your people? Celebrate their success. Recognize them. Salespeople are human beings. Sure, they get paid commission on those big deals but what if that’s not what motivates them? Maybe they are motivated by other things. A person who feels appreciated will always do more than what was expected.

7. Let them fly. There is no greater feeling than seeing your people embrace everything you have given them, all the time you have invested and watching them fly. Hearing them use some of your suggestions, seeing them get the expected reaction from the client, seeing them grow in confidence and seeing them pay it forward to those around them. This is why you chose a career in sales leadership, right? Back off slowly and let them fly.

See also: Agencies: Grow Sales AND Develop Staff

Empathy and compassion are two qualities that can fundamentally transform the growth trajectory of any sales organization. For the sake of your people, if it doesn’t come naturally, please keep trying. They will respect you for it.

Thanks for reading.

Leadership Lessons for My Newborn

Bowen Thomas Swift was born on Wednesday, Aug. 12, at 6.45am. His buddies call him Bo. Weighing in at 6 pounds, 14 ounces, Bo is 20 inches long, has a normal-sized head (which, if you know either of his parents, was a huge relief) and like any baby is completely and utterly dependent on his parents. He is a blank canvas.

So, listen up, son. Here is some advice about how to be a leader, about how to work with people, about business and about life:

Lead with compassion. One of the greatest opportunities in life will be the opportunity to lead people. But remember, with this opportunity comes huge responsibility. The people you lead will look to you every single day for two things: direction and guidance. The words that you choose and the tone that you take will matter at all times. So what kind of leader will you be, Bo? Always, always, always remember to take the individual into consideration first. Serve others, and the world will reward you 10x. There will be times when you may question the actions and decisions of those around you. Always assume the best of people. Take the time to get to know people. Always be open to learning and the perspective of others. Slow down, ask questions and seek to understand. Always be compassionate.

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Live the vision, breathe the mission. Leadership can be defined as the ability to inspire others to achieve a shared objective. The two words that jump out for your dad are “inspire” and “shared.” People will go the extra mile when inspired to do so. But remember, son, they must understand the bigger picture and their individual roles in the mission to be really inspired. Then live the mission, Bo. Live every single moment of every single day. Be passionate. Life is too short.

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Be open, honest and constructive. Feedback is a gift. As a leader, you will have the responsibility to provide feedback. Good and not so good. Both are equally important to the recipient. But, Bo, you must earn the right to give feedback to people. If you don’t earn the respect of those around you, they won’t listen to you, buddy. Always be respectful. People don’t plan to mess up. They don’t wake up in the morning and say to themselves: “Today I’m going to do everything I can to fail.” When the time is right, and you’ll know when, always be open, honest and constructive with feedback. Constructive, for me, is the most important word. Show peopl a path. Guide them down it.

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Make fast, high-quality, data-driven decisions. By the time you get the chance to lead people, the world will be moving way more quickly than it does today. And, son, it moves pretty damn quickly already. Don’t ever make decisions based on a gut feeling. Even when you are under pressure to make a quick decision. We live in a world of big data. You may have a gut feeling about a topic or, as your dad calls it, a hypothesis (thanks, Mike Derezin). But prove your hypothesis with data before you pull the trigger on anything. Business or personal. Slow down to speed up.

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Collaborate to win. The most successful people in the world are the ones who know how to collaborate. They are self-aware enough to know what they bring to the table. But they also take the time to understand the skills, ability, knowledge and experience of those around them. You will not succeed in life, Bo, if you try and go at it alone. And by the way, son, life is way more fun when you respect and work in partnership with those around you.

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Keep things simple. Right now, you eat, sleep and poop. As you get older, you’ll be pleased to know that you’ll have the opportunity to do more things. You will engage with people. People are interesting, but they can bring complexity to life if you let them. As their leader, you will have the job of listening to the complexity, deconstructing their challenges, helping them simplify, helping them get to the core of an issue or a challenge and then sending them on their way. And, please, don’t use 400 words when 10 well-chosen words will suffice. Keep things simple.

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Work hard, play hard. We all have to work, Bo. Life is expensive. But please pick something that makes you happy. Do something you are passionate about. Whatever you choose, remember to have fun. Don’t take yourself too seriously. I don’t, and it has served me well. Don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself. You’ll work hard. You’re a Swift. But always strive for balance in your life. Work to live, don’t live to work. Be present for those around you. There will be so many distractions. Life will get hectic if you let it. And, son, remember to breathe.

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That’s a wrap, Bo. Thanks for listening.