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Speaking at a conference? Bashing your sales team is NOT a good look!

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

After some recent reflection on the past year in my career, one thing that brought me so much joy was speaking at industry events - customer spotlight presentations, panel discussions, webinars or even leading targeted training for other folks in enablement. As this was flexing a relatively new muscle, I looked critically at my personal strengths and opportunities for improvement. I also looked closely at my counterparts presenting - and there was one trend that really bothered me. I noticed that a lot of presenters earned a laugh at the expense of their internal "customer" - the sales team.

And, don't get me wrong, I got the jokes. I could relate to the frustrations. But I kept thinking, what if a rep were there or if they listened to the recording? And it made me realize that often times the jokes were masking enablement leaders own failures/flaws/gaps in their strategic initiative planning.

When confronted with challenges or frustrations on the job, I choose to lead with empathy and vulnerability. I assess my own work and devise creative solutions before accepting defeat. When I hear other leaders turn to humor, I ask myself a variety of questions to remain solutions-oriented.

A few examples:

  • One speaker was frustrated that reps are creating their own content. Have they done a content gap analysis and ensured reps have the resources they really need? Have the enablement leader done enough to promote and organize content in a way that is easily accessible/searchable? Is marketing pushing initiatives to sales or are sellers involved in the creation process to ensure its "sales-consumable"?

  • Another speaker talked about "bad behaviors" when reps aren't adopting the new initiative. How well did the enablement leader plan for the change management required? Did they anticipate reactions and put mitigation strategies in play? Did they have internal champions and executive sponsors to motivate/inspire?

  • Frontline managers often get it the hardest. "Managers aren’t enforcing the new initiative." Were they included in the build? Were milestones created for consensus building? Did managers attend advanced manager training or receive the same information with the team? Were expectations rolled out for accountability? Was the standard operating rhythm taken into consideration when timing the rollout? Manager enablement is often more important than rep enablement!

Now you know my pet peeve. Let me know your thoughts!

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