We love bragging on Inside Sales Leaders who just get it. The best part is, we get impressed so often by front-line supervisors, managers, directors, and leaders in our travels.
What puts a leader on the spotlight list? It’s the “X-factor” of inside sales leadership – results + people focus. Charisma + strategy. The tough coach that helps us all do more than we thought possible. Even better? When Leaders we meet teach us something new. How lucky are we to find awesomeness wherever we go?
So we decided it was time to spread some of this around. We hope the Leader Spotlight will help you, too, learn from and be inspired by some of the best in the industry.
Installment #1: Everyone, please meet Margaret Weniger!
As Director of Sales at SaaSOptics, she came up through Active Network and SalesLoft. She’s a long-time friend and new client of Factor 8. Here are a few reasons we chose her as our rock star this month:
- Like many of us, she’s switching her specialty from account management rep leadership to building and growing BDR/SDR teams.
- She’s got the gift of strategic thinking AND tactical execution. This is a trait I look for in every Factor 8 Advisor. Strategic thinking takes experience, curiosity, research, and new “mind muscles” for all of us. And as we build those muscles I think the majority of leaders lose the ability to also be tactical. When we find a leader who can create the strategy, translate the strategy to the team, AND roll up her sleeves to help implement the strategy, we’ve found a rare gem. Have you met someone like this?
- She knows her business, people, and herself. This is a rare one. I’ve known Margaret since we met at the AA-ISP Leadership Summit in what, 2015? We’ve had mentoring conversations through three companies (and 2.5 kids so far!) and I’m so impressed by how accurately she assesses her own strengths and weaknesses and then works to fill gaps where she finds them. Like most great achievers she is her toughest critic, but I love her vigor in developing herself as much as she does her people. And frankly usually when we find great people developers, we don’t find the “numbers” managers. The results-first, damn-straight I know my run-rate and stack ranking kind of leader. Marg nails all 3. Which is your strength?
- Finally, I chose Margaret because she’s looking for a network of other Factor 8 bad-asses to bounce ideas and help each other. Lean in. Find Margaret on LinkedIn and SalesHacker.
And now a few words from Margaret:
I first learned about Factor8 at the AA-ISP Leadership Summit where I saw Lauren Bailey speak. Her content was incredibly valuable and her stage presence was unmatched. I had to stop by the booth to meet her and Lauren kindly obliged my request for mentorship. I admire the intentional approach Factor 8 takes with their sales training and I’m excited to finally have them come onsite with our team at SaaSOptics.
What one thing should new sales managers focus on first to maximize the ROI of their own development?
Anytime I have a new sales manager I let them know that they’re entering one of the most intense years of learning they’ll face in their career. If you have a strong mentor in your direct manager, make sure you work with them as problems or challenges arise. They are there to help you succeed and can guide you when faced with situations outside your wheelhouse. Make sure you’re patient with yourself and remember that the key is to fail fast and learn from it. If you don’t have a strong manager to mentor you find one immediately! Minimal support for first time managers is a heavily documented challenge in sales management so if you find yourself in this situation you aren’t alone but you also don’t have to just accept the circumstances. A great place to start is past managers you’ve worked for or there are several groups local or nationwide (AA-ISP) that offer mentor/mentee programs. This is one transition you need to check the ego at the door and find someone to go on the journey with you.
Toughest lesson to learn?
The most painful lesson I learned was the importance of vulnerability as a leader. As a first time manager, I was eager to prove I deserved the role. I felt like I had to have the answers to every question and I never wanted to show weakness or chinks in the armor. I thought this would make me a better leader to my team because I was knowledgeable and strong. Unfortunately, it had the exact opposite effect. While I cared deeply about each individual and their success, they viewed my behavior as cold, distant, unapproachable, and hard to relate to. Ouch! Fortunately for me, this was highlighted in an annual performance review and I had a manager who gave me a chance to learn from this experience. It wasn’t easy and I still work on it every day, but the level of relationship I can have now makes the hard work worth it.
Biggest change you had to make to hit Director level?
The further up you go in an organization, the less control you have and the further removed you become from the end result. The biggest change is how you communicate. It’s really important to ensure you work through your frontline managers and not circumvent them and go directly to the rep. It’s tempting, especially early on if you are working with a first time manager that is going to be on a steep learning curve and will need time to develop. This requires great intentionality as you transition but with time definitely becomes easier.
The other challenge worth highlighting is coming to terms that you are no longer the expert on your solution or your buyer. That doesn’t mean you don’t stay current but you’re no longer consistently running demos, listening to calls, or directly interacting daily with the frontline. Lean into this change. It gives you a chance to empower your managers and reps to provide feedback on what they’re seeing since they are talking to people day in and day out. It also helps you stay out of the weeds and focused on the bigger picture.
Dealer’s choice. Anything you want to share?
You’re in control of your career. One of the best things you can do to stand out is to manage up. What I mean is ensure you are providing regular updates to your manager about team performance, proactively address challenges or concerns, and to the best of your ability come prepared with ideas for how you’re addressing the concerns/challenges this.
Know a leader that has that x-factor and deserves to be highlighted? Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.