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Yes! Sales Leaders Can and Should Shut Their Door

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nancysells18 October 2016Blog

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Sales leaders are regularly advised to have an open-door policy. An open door lets their sales professionals know they can walk in at any time to ask for help, advice, or updates. There is a lot of value in showing your team you care enough to be available when they need you.

There also is value in knowing when to shut the door.

The 60-40 Rule for Sales Leaders

In my previous post on sales leadership, 5 Tips to Help Sales Leaders Develop Top Performers, I discussed how sales leaders need to devote 60% of their time to developing their people.

What about the other 40%? Whether you are a sales manager or senior vice president, you need to spend time reviewing and reflecting on the pipeline, sales numbers, and strategy. If you’re a senior sales leader and have a target of 15% organic growth over the next two years, you need to figure out how to make that happen.

Here’s the rub. You’re busy all the time. You have a lot of plates spinning in the air and nothing can drop.

So here’s the counter-intuitive solution for being the best sales leader you can be. Make time to be reflective about strategy, about performance, about what’s working and what isn’t. If you think shutting your door will send a negative message to your people, book a conference room. Do it offsite. And tell your people how you’re spending this time.

Just make sure to devote 40% of your time to this important part of your leadership role. It’s more than reviewing numbers and reading or writing reports. It’s about creating the mental space to see the bigger picture. Are you measuring the right metrics to indicate progress? Are your sellers selling the way buyers are buying today? What disruptive trends are underway or on the horizon? Have your products, services, or methods become obsolete?

Close Your Door to Focus on Strategy

According to the Richardson Sales Performance 2016 Sales Challenges survey, comparing responses of sales reps vs. sales leadership, leaders offered these insights about their situations:

“We need to make sure our reps have the tools necessary to clearly communicate our selling points while making calls.”

“The real #1 challenge is that sales cycles are getting longer and longer—management changes, restructuring, budget cuts—and nobody willing to decide.”

“Clients are becoming more aware of competition. But, we need to demonstrate that there are critical differences between our services and theirs.”

Overcoming these challenges will take both strong people skills and visionary leadership. Some sales leaders are good at developing their people. Others are better at strategy. But being a successful sales leader is not an either/or proposition when it comes to these two essential elements.

These days, when selling challenges are only getting tougher, every leader has to make a positive impact in terms of their people and strategy. Knowing that’s true and making it happen are two different things. To embrace each element takes time management and discipline. And a commitment to do both.

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