As CEO, you must have confidence in your sales leader to make their number. So to lose that confidence can signal a disaster to your year. On the surface, there are many reasons why confidence is lost. But the root of the problem may lie in an inability to be agile. Your sales leader may be unable to keep up with a rapidly changing environment


To be agile means to constantly stretch the limits of your team. It requires a tolerance for failure with a mandate to learn and adapt. You will regain confidence in your sales leader if they adopt this progressive mindset.


The Factory Needs to be Perfect

Many believe perfection has no margin for error. Top performance is methodical and repetitious. Which is true on the factory floor. Not so true in fast-paced sales and marketing organizations


Many manufacturing processes were perfected decades ago. Companies like GE now shave off fractions of cost with Six Sigma programs. For the factory, a risk-free environment is critical to their success


Your Team Needs to be Agile

Though Sales and Marketing also strive for perfection, they also need to be agile. As buyers, we expect constant upgrades.

When we report a bug, the developers will release a fix next month. We anticipate that the “next version” will be better. The “status quo” products and services get lost quickly behind new innovations. So you need to be agile. To be agile, listen to the market and change quickly


As CEO you must have a sales leader that can keep pace with the market. Agility will make that possible.


Three Traits of the Status Quo Mindset:


1. Stubbornness is common among those who don’t believe in change. Usually a stubborn leader is protecting a plan they created. They have a deeply rooted desire to see the plan through to completion regardless of the cost. They stay the course regardless of the changing world around them.

2. Fear of failure encourages the status quo. A lot can be at stake if things go horribly wrong. Loss of job or bonus, demotion, and stress are just a few of the possible consequences. When unchecked, fear can infiltrate an organization as corporate group-think. It becomes much safer to conform than to stand out.

3. Apathy is a sign that your leaders don’t believe in the mission statement. They no longer care. To plod along toward a numerical quota is their only concern. Everything else is a distraction, so they don’t change anything.


Three Attributes of an Agile Leader:


For your leaders to be Agile, they must have a progressive, risk-tolerant mindset. They believe in change, are not afraid to fail, and despise apathy. The Agile leader is one who listens to the market. They put in place mechanisms to routinely monitor changes and then react quickly.


1. Flexibility. Your leaders need the ability to change as the world changes around them. John Coleman on Harvard Business Review chose the perfect quote to illustrate this point. Mike Tyson said “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Those who stick with the original plan will be clobbered in the marketplace. Being agile requires the ability to adjust to the changing needs of your buyers.

2. Courage. Your leaders must have the ability to push the limits. They must risk failure for the sake of innovation and growth. This requires a CEO to incent risk. Remove the fear of failure from the system.

3. Conviction. Finally, your leaders must take ownership in your vision. If they have no vision then they become overpaid lab rats. They become order takers. Instead, your leaders must be champions of the bigger picture to foster constant change.


Are Your Leaders Agile?


Agile leaders have their fingers on the pulse of the market. They are constantly listening for changes. Then these leaders can rapidly deploy necessary change throughout their organization.


The downloadable Agile Leadership Checkagile_sales_leader_tool_screenlist itemizes the critical mechanisms for an Agile environment. This is a 25 point checklist to see if your leaders are listening and meeting the changing needs of the buyer. Untimately, an agile sales leader is more likely to keep up with the market.




Dan Bernoske

Develops innovative revenue growth solutions and designs the SBI client experience.

Prior to SBI, Dan held business development, sales, and product management leadership positions at several start-up companies, developing Apple iOS platforms and E-Commerce-based social networks. Most notably, Dan was co-founder of Video Lantern, an online video advertising sales and operations firm. He is Six Sigma certified from GE.

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