When it comes to looking at a year in review, we’re all susceptible to binary thinking. We tend to see a year either as a good one or as a challenging one. That’s a mistake.
It distorts our ability to learn deeply and grow fully as professionals. Good years become the ones where we tend to just look at the things we did right. And with tougher years, we dwell only on mistakes. Both of those approaches leave us with critical blindspots.
No matter how you felt about 2016, it gave us lessons in the form of achievements and hindrances. It’s up to each of us to be open to the wisdom that both things can teach us.
The way I look at 2016—based on my own work and on what I heard working with sellers across North America and abroad—it produced valuable lessons to apply to leadership, to being a better sales professional, to building a smarter organization and to being more resilient on a personal level.
Leadership success hinges on what you do for others
As I regularly remind sales managers: their number-one job isn’t management, it’s to be the best coach for their sales team. That means adopting a success mindset that’s defined by more than just what they achieve for themselves. Rather, it needs to be, “I get better when my team gets better at selling.” Ideally, they should be selling even better than you did when you were in that role. On the flipside, however, if you’re leaving poor performers on the team for too long or you have a team that regularly fails to hit targets, you are complicit in that failure.
Improvement is never about choosing between quality or quantity
Quality and quantity is always the path to better performance. In 2016, I saw sellers get caught in a mindset in which they would hide behind their quality calls, especially when they weren’t earning enough to hit their goals. Numbers don’t lie. Use your CRM dashboard to measure personal performance on every call so you know exactly where and what to improve. This applies just as much when you are hitting targets. It doesn’t matter that you know you are good. It matters that you know why you are good.
Everyone is a profit center
This is a fundamental lesson that every business needs to apply. The best companies organize around customer success. They don’t create pinch points in the organization. They relentlessly look for barriers that hold back their customers from doing more business with them. That kind of exploration is a team exercise. Everyone must buy-in to the problem that they are solving together. If your business is not producing enough revenue, every part of the organization needs to look under the hood. Sales challenges are seldom just a matter for the sales division to solve on its own.
Resiliency isn’t just about being tough
Life is meant to be enjoyed. Don’t take yourself so seriously that you think your clients or company can’t live without you for a week while you take a vacation. Resiliency is as much about being kind to yourself as being tough. Sales is a high-stress profession. Only you can be the advocate for your well-being. So, take care of yourself. Make both your physical and mental well-being a priority. Heed Warren Buffett’s advice: “You will never get a better return on life than when you truly invest in yourself.”