Why You Should Fire Your Sales Manager Or Boss

The Sales Manager’s job is to provide an environment within which their sales people can succeed. This means providing intrinsic competitive value in the product, service or solution being sold. Then viable territories and targets, the right levels of support, training and enablement tools, demand generation leadership, and remove internal roadblocks. What more could you possibly ask for? Well for me there is one more thing – positive values and leadership. Success is a partnership and all the elements need to be in place for a team to be effective. Synergy is amazingly powerful stuff when everything comes together.

But life is too short to work with people you neither like nor respect. The first boss I fired was good person and we remain friends today but he could not provide me with a viable territory. It wasn't really his fault, and he had been told to hire a sales person to 'dominate the white space'... LOL! I discovered, painfully, that the 'white space' is that part of the market that's already being serviced by your competitors or where there is little need for what is being offered.

But before I had the difficult conversation about our future together I worked hard for 6 months ‘trail-blazing our value proposition’ into a new vertical. I did the analysis by sizing the market, profiling potential clients and finding the industry influencers. I ran demand generation initiatives by working closely with marketing and I met with the industry leaders. I adopted a top-down selling approach to overcome the resistance we were encountering at mid-levels.

I felt I had earned the right and am committed to success and I said to my boss: “Either you’re going to fire me in 9 months for poor performance or I’m going to fire you in the 60 days for not providing me with a patch in which I can be successful. I’m happy to keep building this new vertical but I also need additional territory if I am to make my number.”

Seriously, when you're at the interview, always ask: What's my territory going to be, how viable is it? Also ask: 'What happened here to make this role available – why wasn't my predecessor successful?'

Before we continue, have a smile watching this video about Joshua Peters and Michael Blunt from my book. At the end of this post share your most outrageous stories concerning someone firing their boss. Perhaps via e-mail telling them to open their top drawer where the security pass, laptop and final expense claim is sitting?

In one of my posts I provide guidance to sales managers on who belongs in their sales team and how do they decide who needs to be managed-out? The "rule of 24" helps them make the decision but for sales people assessing whether to fire their boss I recommend the three Cs. The following is an excerpt from my Book, The Joshua Principle.

Success is a 50:50 proposition. By this I mean that you bring fifty percent of the potential for success and your employer represents the other side of the equation. You know that companies look for Competence, Commitment, and Character or Cultural fit when hiring someone and you should also consider these same things in evaluating your potential employer. In addition to the three Cs, you need them to discuss the three Ps. You should evaluate the potential for success within their organization based upon their response to the following topics: People, Proposition and Patch. Your employer has an obligation to provide an environment within which you can be successful. This means that they need to have people you are proud to work with (competent, committed and of good character), and a value proposition that is uniquely differentiated in the market; and a territory – patch – that is viable with an achievable quota.

Another good reason to fire your boss, or client for that matter, is when there is misalignment of values. An immutable law of selling is that people buy from those they like and trust... they also stay and work with those they like and trust.

Is your boss a person of integrity? The best boss I ever had was a woman. I think we need more female leaders because they are naturally wired for better relationships and better morality. People who are trying hard need to be nurtured, not napalmed with flame-thrower forecast pressure from lunatic managers seeking to manage what cannot be managed – revenue. Jason Jordan will convince you this is true.

Another boss I fired was the regional VP and I was country manager for Australia. He was a slippery soul, very cunning and good at self-optimization. He was happy to bold-face lie to staff about them being okay, and then instruct me quietly later to fire them. He happily abused his expense account and travelled internationally for his own personal purposes, staying in the finest hotels with limousines driving him everywhere. I didn't handle it at all well but I learned much about how not to fire your boss.

The last time I fired my boss was after receiving an e-mail telling me to fire 40% of my employees in 48 hours by booking 15 minute back-to-back appointments before office hours in a hotel lobby to then hand them envelopes and advise they were locked out of the office and all systems. It was suggested that I follow the script and tell them that someone would be in touch to make a time for them come and collect a box with their stuff in it. At the time we were the most profitable region in the world – #1 amongst 40 offices globally. But when acquisitions happen, strange decisions get made. This true story is featured in an upcoming book on leadership written by Anthony Howard: Humanise, Why Human Centred Leadership Is The Key To The 21st Century.

So as you consider your current career; does your boss care about you, is he committed to your success? Is she competent? Do you have aligned values? Choose those with whom you share your life; especially with your work.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Photo is of legendary voice artist and actor, Matt Wills. Video was produced byJoel Philips who also plays role of Joshua Peters. Joel is a man of many talents... musician, actor, producer and leader.

Main image photo by: Michael Blunt (aka: Matt Wills)

Why Prime Minister Lost His Job

Politics is toxic and nowhere more-so than in Australia. Our Prime Minister was the bloke who threatened to ‘shirt-front’ Vladimir Putin over Russia’s role in the shooting down of MH17. He is from the right, like the Republicans, but without the Bible and handgun. Unlike the American political system, the party holding power can replace their leader even though they campaigned to the electorate under the banner of their leader to win office. The Prime Minister Abbott faced a potential revolt within caucus and came through unconvincingly. Although he fended off the first assault but then eventually lost the Prime Ministership to Malcolm Turnbull.

Politics is selling and Prime Minister Abbott must learn to speak from the heart, get real with journalists and the electorate to deal with the real cause of his problem. Let me give you an example of Abbott’s problem. Last week he was interviewed by our equivalent of an uber Fox News right wing commentator, Alan Jones, who threw an easy pitch for Abbott to smash out of the park – 'hit for six', to use a cricket metaphor. What happened… Prime Minister Abbott responded with vanilla custard sprinkled with liberal doses of ums and ahs (16 in just 45 seconds). Here it is.

Alan Jones finished the interview with: “You’re hopeless at talking about yourself… it’s clear that a lot of people don’t really know their Prime Minister. Who is Tony Abbott? We’re going to 77 stations – tell us about yourself... who is the real Tony Abbott?”

Prime Minister Abbott’s response (without the annoying ums and ahs): “Well; I’ve always been a bit reluctant to blow my own trumpet Alan; and I like to think that the facts speak for themselves. I’m the father of three daughters; I’m the brother of 3 sisters. I love my community, which I try to serve as a volunteer fire fighter and as a surf lifesaver. Obviously I like sport and try to get plenty of physical exercise because I think that's good for your mental health as well as everything else. But most of all, I am the Prime Minister of this country and I am spending every ounce of energy, I am dedicating every fiber of my being, to try to ensure this country flourishes.”

Alan Jones knows how to sell. He highlighted that the current government has inherited a debt crisis. Australia had 20% higher debt per citizen than Greece and the daily interest bill for government was $37,000,000. The Australian government was borrowing $110,000,000 per day to service debt and fund the budget deficit. Australia’s GDP was approximately 55% of California’s and it would take an Australian worker earning an annual salary of $75,000, 400 years just to service one day of interest payments for Australia’s national debt.

Here’s what Prime Minister Abbott needed to do to climb in opinion poll rankings. First, ‘ditch the script’ and forget the artificial humility. He is Rhodes Scholar and champion boxer... get on the front foot by being embracing the very things people claim are why they don't like him. Here is what I would have coached him to say to Alan Jones.

“Alan, I know people love to hate me… it’s become a sport – but I probably deserve it. I was chief head-kicker for a while in the Howard government and I made lots of enemies as a result. It was my role in the team at the time and if politics is just a popularity competition, then I’m in trouble. But you know what – I think the public are sick of populists who are incompetent. The last mob cost more than a thousand lives will poor execution of policy with boat people. They frittered away decades of hard work to destroy what was the strongest economy in the world. They set us on an unnecessary path of economic destruction and we’ve got to fix the economy with strong leadership. I know I need to listen more and improve my public speaking skills but [back to what he actually finished with] I am spending every ounce of energy, I am dedicating every fiber of my being, to try to ensure this country flourishes.”

He should be self-deprecating and embrace the haters. Humbly and humorously wear it as a badge of honor. Have a belly laugh (maybe his heart-felt laughter looks much better than the awkward smirk attempted smile; and he should wave like mad when they boo him at sporting events. When journalists ask him why he rates so low in opinion poles, he should just smile warmly and say: ‘You know sometimes I hate myself too [have a laugh at yourself]; but I have this crazy belief that Australians want someone who can run the place well. Competence in delivering what we’ve promised is what I’m focused on. Hopefully enough people will love to hate me enough to allow us to continue getting the place back on track economically and with sensible policy.”

He also needed to:

  • Learn to smile and laugh naturally. Embrace the hate and wear it humorously as a badge of honor.

  • Hire the best speech coach to overcome his 'ums' and 'ahs'. Maybe Geoffrey Rush is available after what he did in The King’s Speech.

  • Stop walking like he just got off a horse rather than a bike. I know he rides his bike nearly as much as Lance training for the Tour de Drug Testing, and as Tyler Hamilton wrote in his book, The Secret Race, professional cyclists are beautiful on a bike but walk like old men. A natural gate can be developed even for those who’ve had major knee or hip surgery.

We need the very best leaders in politics. They need to be authentic, not cardboard cut-out personas. Winning political office is selling and marketing; Winning reelection is about competence in delivery of what you promise... and sales and marketing. Sell; deliver; sell again. Selling is changing someone's emotional state, not the imparting of information. If you want to lead, be the real deal.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main Image Photo by Flickr: DonkeyHotey

6 Social Selling Fears of CEOs That Must Be Embraced

I work with CEOs helping with their company's social selling strategies and I regularly encounter resistance. Before I share the 6 fears of CEOs, let me state why social selling matters: Social buying is a reality and those sellers who embrace social engagement platforms masterfully increase the likelihood of achieving their sales target by 51% (LinkedIn research). Here are some additional research points...

The above infographic is from Jamie Shanks and highlights important statistics (please note that the second stat of 54% is a typo... it should be 5.4 people now involved in the average B2B buying decision) but I believe there is another even more compelling reason that sales and marketing teams must embrace social selling: Sales people need to become micro-marketers to build their own credentials and also create opportunity pipelines. They need to engage earlier and at senior levels to create the necessary value for both the buying and selling organizations to fund their role. Strategic Social Selling is how they can effectively achieve all this... seems compelling, right?

We must also acknowledge and then embrace fears stemming from the dark side to social Here are the six fears of CEOs concerning Social Selling:

  1. "I don't want my sales people building their personal brands, only to have them leave the company and take our customers with them." Every CEO is seeking to build the company's brand but we now live in the age of personal brands... people buy from those they like and trust and 75% of buyers research the seller before engaging. What will they see online before the meeting or decide whether to respond to an e-mail or return a call? Do they see 'Porsche driving, quota crushing uber sales person' or do they see someone online of integrity and value who can bring insight to their business? Seriously, people in business have always had personal brands... get over it and embrace the fact that social media merely amplifies an existing reality.
  2. "I don't want my staff building their social profiles only to then be poached by our competitors." LinkedIn in the #1 research platform for people in business and it has severely disrupted the recruitment industry. Many employers are bringing the head-hunting function in-house and powered by LinkedIn. Sales people have LinkedIn profiles and no CEO can change that fact. What can be done however is to work with the sales team to help them transform their profiles to move away from being an online CV (targeting new employers) to instead serve as personal brand interactive micro-sites evidencing the business value they offer clients and the values by which they operate. Their LinkedIn profiles can dramatically assist in business development through 'social validation' evidencing credible 'social proximity' and credentials for relevant insight to positively influence potential customers.
  3. "I don't want my competitors tracking the social activity of my staff enabling them to intercept prospects or engage our customers." LinkedIn settings can be managed to ensure that only those you wish to see your connections can do so. Educate your own sales and marketing teams to take advantage of ignorant competition in this regard.
  4. "I don't want my sales people to be distracted, wasting time in social when it doesn't monetize for the company." Being strategic means doing the appropriate research and connecting with influential people and buyers on the basis of value. Understand how to measure and manage the right activities and inputs that create social selling success. Intelligent use of social tools absolutely creates revenue and enables the best to be truly strategic.
  5. "I don't want my sales people damaging our brand by posting inappropriate comments in social." Sales people have always had the power to damage their employer's brand so this is already a risk. Social media does however give everyone a megaphone. It's never been more important to create a positive culture and employ people with positive values and integrity. Manage people out of the business who are a liability due to incompetence or poor values.
  6. "I don't trust what I don't understand... surely there's a dark side to social with our data being used in ways we don't approve. Yes,dark social is real but the best way to manage risk is to embrace it yourself... that's what leadership is all about. Be guided by experts and trusted advisers who have already executed successfully. The interweb is now, cloud computing is changing businesses, technology is enabling disruption of long-standing business models, social is transforming sales and marketing channels and creating mega-empowered buyers. It cannot be ignored; the risks can only be managed.

Importantly, we must all embrace the things that we fear and here are my tips for managing the risk of embracing social selling:

  • The CEO must change their job descriptionThe leader must accept responsibility for creating best Customer eXperience (CX) with a truly customer centric culture that listens through social monitoring tools. Did you know that when customers leave, more than 65% of the time it is because they feel you just don't care. Richard de Crespigny delivered exception CX aboard an Airbus A380 and on the ground to transform a near disaster into legendary customer service.
  • Transform LinkedIn profiles away from being an online CV targeting the next job to instead be powerful 'social proof' micro-sites positively linked to the employer's products, services and solutions. Once the sales person is evangelically promoting the transformation delivered for clients through the company's solutions, it makes it very difficult for them to go to a competitor and still maintain their credibility. They will also be more loyal knowing that you want to help them build their personal brand and advance their career.
  • Have a social media and social selling policy. Be clear about what people can and cannot do on social platforms, especially when it comes to expressing opinions. Distinguish between content curation (posting other people's content) and social publishing (original thought leadership). Offer training and support while providing access to best practice tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  • Identify individual brand champions. Think of Richard Branson, Michael Dell, Joel Manby and others. In your own way, who will you build personal brand campaigns around? Which loyal long-term team members can deliver insightful thought leadership content that others within your company can amplify through their own social platforms?
  • Go and be where your customers are online. Constantly ask yourself this question: What are my prospective customers looking for online before they look for me, our product, our service or our solution? Where are they searching online and what cyber-communities are they part of? I moved away from my own website for blogging to write here in LinkedIn Publisher for this very reason... it's hugely powerful.
  • Be brave and set your people free. But provide training to enable them to intelligently execute. Hold people accountable but also empower them to make decisions that create delighted customer advocates.

It won't be very long before 75% of the workforce will be Gen-Y or Millennials. The new generations of executives and workers have experienced theconsumerization of IT which means that people increasingly expect to be able to execute their workday in a similar manner to how they engage in their social lives. Do these phrases sound familiar? Surely there's an app for that? Why do we need training... isn't it intuitive? Why can't I use my own device at work?

Make the decision to adapt to the way people now research, engage and buy. Adopt modern selling techniques, bring sales and marketing together, create customer eXperience (CX) models and build the right attitudes and skills into your teams. If you'd like more, browse the hundreds of posts in my LinkedIn profile and start with this one explaining exactly how to apply strategic social selling techniques in the enterprise.

If you enjoyed this post, listen here to my interview with Kelly Riggs on Biz Locker Room Radio where we discuss Strategic Social Selling.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main image photo by Flickr: Chris Devers Banksy in Boston