This one act lets everyone in the organization know that you are not promotable. I have been on the outside looking in before. My boss asked my peer (Eastern RVP) to participate in the CEO staff meeting. Immediately I knew I was behind: behind in performance, trust and confidence. The executives and my direct reports also instantly knew it. I was not in the ‘inner’ circle. Who wants to work for the guy who is not in the ‘inner’ circle?
Download this Personal ‘Inner Circle’ Assessment. This assessment will independently gauge your ability to get in the ‘inner’ circle. It determines if you are in, out or irrelevant.
4 Ways to Get In the ‘Inner’ Circle
- Admit you are not as good as you think. All good Sales VPs have an ego. You wouldn’t have achieved your current role if you didn’t. However, don’t blame anyone other than yourself for not being in the loop. Your boss chooses who is in and who is out. It’s an exclusive club. To be admitted, you must show value. This means not just doing your job. This means over and above what your boss wants.
- Understand what your boss wants. He is your ticket in or out. Know how he looks good to his boss. What maximizes his comp plan? Gets him promoted? You do that consistently and he will invite you in the room.
- Ask for tough projects. It’s not easy getting in the inner circle. Accomplishing difficult projects for the Sales Leader will get you in the mix. Examples are leading a new CRM rollout or championing the new Lead Qualification program. Even piloting the new Sales Process will help. It’s extra work which means longer hours without any quota relief. It’s not political jockeying. That only gets you noticed. Remember most of the ‘kiss ups’ are like Swiss cheese: full of holes.
- Make your number. This is table stakes. You have to do it while tackling a special project. Making the number also means getting on top of the Stack Ranking Report. Why would I want someone in my ‘inner circle’ if they aren’t at the top?
Our firm speaks daily to regional Sale VP’s. We usually get debriefed by the SVP of Sales before the conversation. It resembles something like this: ‘Talk to Dave. He is our guy in the Midwest. Good guy but is on the bubble. Missed his number and just lays low. Talk to Scott as well. Our West Coast guy does well. Usually makes his number and adds a lot of value. You will like him.’ Is this SVP of Sales biased? Who do you think is in his’ inner’ circle?
Someone who did this really well is Kevin Fried. Kevin was a Director of Sales. His former boss spoke highly of him. Because of the boss’s high regard, Kevin was always included on special projects. People always wanted his opinion. He consistently was invited to participate in the EVP of Sales staff meetings. And when his former VP of Sales left the company, Kevin got his job. Being in the inner circle pays off.
Call to Action:
- Determine if you are in the ‘Inner’ Circle. Examine the past 9 months. How many special projects or assignments have you been assigned? How many have you asked to volunteer? Compare that to your peers? Who has more will indicate if you are ahead or behind.
- Manufacture ways to get in front of your Boss’s Boss. Making your boss look good allows him to put you in front of her. You will not be valued unless you bring value.
- Volunteer for the tough project. Leading projects that improve the company and make your boss look good are important. These endear you to the ‘inner’ circle.
- Don’t Complain Under Your Breath. If you aren’t pleased with something, speak up with quantitative facts and figures. But don’t be a sheep and complain in the hallway to your direct reports. Guys who bad mouth the organization aren’t in the inner circle. They are just employed.
Getting in is tough. And remaining there is tougher. But once inside the ‘inner’ circle there are huge opportunities. Career advancement, more money or even the best people or leads come your way. Take action, assess yourself here and begin your progression. And it takes time. Something of value isn’t free.