Know Your Checkbook: Leadership Skills Help Make the Sale

Leadership is not a one-size-fits all approach. Some leaders are quiet, more in the background workers and some are more aggressive. However, to succeed in sales and have growth in your company it takes leaders with particular skills.

“I believe that leadership is genetic, people are born with those skills, but they can hone them in, grow their skills over time,” said Jackson Umbarger, owner of Roy Umbarger & Sons in Bargersville, Indiana. Umbarger shared what he feels makes a sales team successful when it comes to leadership traits.

Communications

Communication is vital to sales. “Answer your phone when someone calls, and if you don’t answer, call them back,”
Umbarger said.

Although that might seem like pretty simple advice, it is sometimes overlooked, especially in an era of so many ways to communicate and with so many calls coming in. Keeping a call log in a notebook is an effective way to make sure you’ve got all your phone calls, text messages, Snap chats responded to, and orders processed without forgetting that one missed call that came in between your last customer stop and your kid’s basketball game. Because Umbarger’s sales team consists of two very unique individuals who communicate differently and are in separate phases of life – one is an early riser who doesn’t mind making calls at 6 a.m., and one would like to talk to customers after the kids’ bedtime – Umbarger at one time developed an app for customers to reach out to the sales team whenever they needed to, and in turn, the sales team could return the communication to the customers on their timelines.

Collaboration

Since leaders look different and have different skills, collaboration is a must. As Umbarger points out they might have sales reps divided by areas or species, but when the heavy hitter needs to be called in for a particular species or product, it is best to work with that person to make the sale.

“Leaders work together. They work for what is best for the team,” he said.

Their team also works together, especially when introducing a new product, to develop the talking points they will discuss, talk about what they don’t want to say and make sure the sales team is on the same page, so every customer and potential customer hears the same thing.

Product Knowledge

Product knowledge is imperative for any successful salesperson. That is why Umbarger makes sure his sales team is properly trained on any new products that they introduce to customers. Training the sales team is of upmost importance. That is when they develop talking points and share those with the rest of the company that might need to talk about the products, so everyone has accurate, consistent product information.

For BioZyme products, make sure you use the information available to you on the Online Dealer Center and online to familiarize yourself with the products.

Belief in Product

“We are not order takers. We sell products we believe in and don’t offer multiple products lines. We want to have a story to tell every time,” Umbarger said.

He said leaders need to have a conviction for the products they are representing. While his sales team might not have direct, personal experience with every product, they have relationships with customers who have had positive experiences and have shared those so the salespeople can share those experiences.

Finally, Umbarger said skilled leaders should not need to be micromanaged. “They know I have their back, and they have mine. The customers will let you know if you someone isn’t doing their job,” he said. Leadership. It doesn’t look the same for everyone, but it is a good combination of communication, collaboration, product knowledge and believing in the goods or services you are selling. Combine those traits, and your leadership skills will shine.

Communication is Key During a Crisis

In times of uncertainty, fear is a common emotion. The national and world health crisis of this spring has left everyone with several questions. Will summer events be canceled or postponed? When will we get to see elderly relatives? Will our kids ever go back to school? Why didn’t I buy more toilet paper? With so many uncertainties in the world, the routine of having a job to come to each day gives people some peace of mind. However, many businesses have changed the way they operate. With the need for essential workers in the agriculture industry, you can help your employees cope by increasing communication and ensuring them that everything will be alright.

Hinda Mitchell, president of the Inspire PR Group, shares seven ideas on how to communicate with your team during these challenging times.

Overcommunicate. But keep it simple. Your employees are on information overload right now, so keep your messages short, to the point and upbeat. Mitchell suggests using both the push strategy and pull strategy for disseminating information. Push information out via email, text messages and even a private website dedicated to the particular crisis. Provide additional information that might be useful to employees so they can pull from that information when needed. At BioZyme®, a private webpage was started for employees that discussed new safety and health protocols, how and when to report any sickness, who to ask for help when working remotely and offered updated information from the CDC and WHO that employees could look at as they wanted.

Focus on health and safety. Personal health and safety of your employees and customers should come first. Make sure you are providing the resources needed to keep your team safe: disinfectant sprays and wipes to gloves or masks. Encourage your staff to continue a healthy lifestyle with good eating habits and exercise; spring is a great time to be outside and get some fresh air.

Provide extra support. Everyone has a unique situation, and it is imperative to be understanding during these times. Identify the circumstances of each individual and offer them resources that might be helpful. This could range from needing childcare due to school closures or caring for a loved one.

Clarity is key. “Be crystal clear on your employee expectations, benefits and other personnel matters during this time. What are they supposed to do if they or a loved one falls ill? What is your PTO, sick time and absentee policy? What have you done to change or enhance benefits to address this unique time? Now is not the time for rigidity; flexibility should drive as much of human resources decision-making as possible,” Mitchell writes.

Little things matter. Show your employees you care with a catered lunch, a small note of appreciation, a gift card for gas or groceries or even a verbal thank-you. If you see or talk to a person who doesn’t seem their normal self, ask them if they are alright and offer to get them help. Sometimes being a listening ear is all a person needs. Your gesture doesn’t need to be substantial to be remembered.

Do the right thing. During any crisis it is imperative to follow the orders of all government officials – local, state and federal. It is also important to exercise patience with your employees. Reassurance about their jobs, the industry and the state of the world is always a good thing during times of chaos.

Remind them the challenges are temporary. Although every day might seem like a scene from the movie “Groundhog Day,” this is a short-term challenge, and normalcy will return. There is always a storm before a rainbow, and though the times might seem tough, brighter days are ahead.

Communicating with your employees is critical to keeping them informed, calm and feeling like part of the team during any challenge. Be sure that you stay calm and level-headed. Don’t panic or use harsh language. Be the leader they need in a time of uncertainty to show that you care, and you will be able to get the best back from them. That is what “Care that Comes Full Circle” is all about.

Community Involvement Leads to Business Awareness

Giving back to your community and the people within it usually leaves the giver with a great sense of accomplishment and good will. However, if your business and its employees take time to get involved in community events, it will spread that sense of giving even further and spread brand awareness and business loyalty within your community.

While you and your business are making a societal impact, you are also actually doing good things for your business and employee morale. Studies have shown that a business’s involvement in community outreach will actually strengthen employee retention, especially with younger employees who have been taught the value of giving back through school and other organizations. And, while employee retention might not sound like a big deal, it is actually huge when it comes to the cost of replacing an employee. The recruiting, hiring and training process can cost a company thousands of dollars. Here are four other ways you can make a positive impact on your business while helping others in the community.

Increase Brand/Business Awareness

When you get involved in community events, you represent not only yourself, but your business. Introduce yourself that way. Others that you are working with will likely be curious about what you do/make/sell. And chances are, someone you are volunteering with that day will have a need for some good or service you offer. Remember, a majority of households have pets, and BioZyme ® markets canine products. You can also use the opportunity to promote your good will on your company website or social media. Take photos of your employees giving back and put them out on social media or make a display board in your store. Local customers are more likely to do and continue business with companies that are involved in the community.

Connect with the Community

It seems obvious that if you are participating in community service events that you are making connections. But your connections can lead to an amazing network of professionals, potential customers and employees. Maybe you have been thinking about engaging in social media, but don’t have the time, patience or skill set to post everything you want on your company Facebook or Twitter. When you are volunteering your time, you might just find someone who is capable of working on social media on a part-time basis, or you might be able to find other ways to connect by joining professional organizations or service groups.

Make a Difference

In a day where the nightly news is filled with so much bad isn’t it time to make a difference? You never know what the impact might be of a meal served to a shut-in or volunteering for a community Easter egg hunt will mean to a child who might not ever receive an Easter basket. Although giving back is sometimes thankless, the small smiles, hand squeezes and simplicity of knowing you made the difference to at least one person should make you want to give your time and efforts.

Grow Internal Relationships

At the beginning of this article, it was mentioned that employee retention is just one benefit of community involvement. However, if your business can devote a half-day or day to the community, it will give your employees a chance to build greater bonds, come together outside of work and appreciate one another as humans and not just co-workers. Having strengthened relationships outside the company will increase employee morale and leave a positive impression on the employees, giving them a great sense of ownership in a company that supports its community.

Giving back. It’s good for the soul, and it’s good for business. Not only does it feel good to give your time and talents, it might just help you increase company morale and grow your business at the same time.

Leadership Behind the Scenes

Not all great leaders will be recognized with a lengthy title, a big square on the top of an organizational chart or by recognition in the local paper for his or her community service. Some of your company’s best and most brilliant leaders might just work in the back of the building.

It’s true. It takes all types of people to make a business function and it takes all kinds of people to become leaders. And yes, we do need those extroverted leaders who want to set in meetings and make decisions that will impact the business and its employees for years to come. We need the leaders who aren’t afraid to teach others the newest sales and marketing techniques and aren’t afraid to talk to a room of 100 dealers, and we need those leaders who will travel up and down the road to spend nights away from their families to sell our great product.

However, we need leaders that will make things happen that we don’t even think about. Think about the crew in the production plant. They work in there, day after day after day. They know the processes and equipment better than anyone in the building. How many BioZyme® dealers have heard the name Dan Wierzba? Probably not too many raised their hands. Dan is the Director of the Plant. Last fall, he along with Nicholas Fansher, a bagging operator, created an automated Sure Champ® Cattle scoop dispenser with little cost or effort, that would ultimately save the bagging operator hours of time. That is leadership. They saw a need; they acted and accomplished something to improve efficiency. Nobody knows them from a fancy title or a big meeting, but they are leaders.

What if I wrote the name Jody Purvis? A few more of you might recognize her name; she does come to dealer retreat and talks to many of our dealers on the phone. She is the one that makes sure every dealer has supplies; literature, apparel, signage, etc. She makes sure that Action Awards point orders are filled. She works with the BioZyme staff to make sure they have supplies for trade shows and meetings and she rarely says “no” when asked to complete a task. She is at the office early and often stays late. She knows the ins and outs of the company, and she will spend time on the phone with new hires to make sure they get the training they need to complete an expense report correctly. That is leadership. She is there to help. She gets tasks accomplished. She doesn’t always get extra praise or recognition, but she is a leader.

Leadership is not solely a title or a position on an organizational flow chart. Leadership is an action; it is often a sign of passion for helping others and doing the right thing. If you have the right people in the right positions, even the most non-public of your employees can demonstrate their leadership skills and help your business grow.

Effective Leadership Boosts Performance

It’s no secret, “effective leaders outperform ineffective leaders every time.” That is the conclusion of Douglas Day, 30-year leadership consultant and author. He further states that if companies are going to succeed, the CEO or person of highest leadership needs to work to develop leadership skills throughout all levels of the company. Here are three truths that Day offers about leadership and how this trait will help your business grow.

• Leadership is a sustainable competitive advantage. Leaders must develop at a rate that keeps pace with accelerating global change. Development challenges our most cherished beliefs and assumptions. Business performance is directly tied to effective leadership, and the most effective leaders are conscious, authentic leaders. The top leader in any organization should be the most effective, authentic leader, and keep current with changes in the industry, with technology and in business and setting an example for the others that work in the company.

• Authentic leaders create cultures of commitment.“Most people enthusiastically support only what they’ve had an active hand in creating. Disengagement is a huge financial cost, as it deadens spirit, passion, innovation, purpose and commitment,” Day writes. Great leaders are all inclusive. They make sure they offer opportunities for all employees to offer input, especially in their specific areas of expertise, where efficiencies could increase, or production costs could be lowered. The more included the employees are, the more commitment they have to the company.

• The best top leadership teams are all about results and relationships. The best teams leverage tremendous business capability, tap into deep wells of personal and collective knowledge, actively seek strategic interdependencies and relationships, and function together in a circle of key leadership processes. Top teams should ask the question: how effective are we individually and collectively as leaders? How do we know and what are we going to do about it?

Day further states, “Great leadership is a competitive advantage, and high performance is achieved and sustained through effective leadership practices applied with discipline over time.”

Now, what Day isn’t saying that is just because you have a great team of leaders means your business will grow automatically. But since those leaders are training those employees similar business, marketing, communication and leadership skills that the entire team will put into practice, then the business will grow.

Once you have these leadership skills four things must happen for your business to grow.

  1. Execute your strategy. You know the plan. You’ve got the skills. You’ve set your sales goals. Now, it is time to put those plans and skills to work to achieve your goals.
  2. Business Rhythm. Day defines this as the “management cycle of leadership processes designed to: track progress against strategy and planning; review status on operational results through clear key metrics; update the strategy regularly, and ensure action is being driven by insight based on relevant, current information, and is focused on achieving the vision. Senior leaders need to build discipline and depth into their leadership process and management cycle, to achieve accountability, predictability, ongoing learning, renewal and sustainability.”
  3. Operational Performance. Organizations should develop simple processes that are internally efficient, locally responsive and globally adaptable. Complexity is removed from the customer experience to enable them to engage you in ways that are both well-designed and sustaining.This means continually making improvements, increasing efficiencies, developing new products and strategies.
  4. Strategic Communication. Nothing happens in business without conversation. This can be conversation between customer and employee; employee and employer; employer and board member. Every sale, new product development or product enhancement happens because of a conversation that started somewhere.

Leadership. It starts at the top, and those businesses with the most effective examples of a great leader will show performance and growth. They will implement their strategies through their business rhythm, evaluate their processes and continue the conversation to grow into the future.

Information for this article curated from: https://leadershipcircle.com/en/business-resultsand-effective-leadership-effective-leaders-outperform-ineffective-leaders-every-time/