FROM LINKEDIN: How I Lead, by Antoine Nohra

FROM LINKEDIN: How I Lead, by Antoine Nohra

In sales, leading your people is just as important as pitching the product…

Those of us in sales leadership must recognize the talent within our organizations before it becomes our competition, and not be tempted to focus all of our energy on the promotion of our products. Focusing on product is fine – if you’re looking to meet the same quotas campaign after campaign. But if you’re looking to lead – in new markets, new verticals, and especially yourself as an entrepreneur – you must recognize that people are just as important as, if not more important than, the product.

I’ve been in the direct sales business for 25 years, starting as a rep in the field and am now Chairman of Credico Group, a leading global network of independent sales offices. My company has quadrupled in size since 2006, growing from fewer than 100 independent sales offices in Canada, Mexico and Spain to more than 400 offices in 16 countries. I am often asked how I’ve achieved such extraordinary success, and the answer is always in my team. Here I share three key steps for making the most of your sales organization by focusing on people:

Step 1: Nurture your talent.

Over the course of my career I have learned that maintaining a continual focus on developing your employees talents go a long way toward the success of the company.  Ensuring my employees are successful and investing in their careers, spending time to train and develop personalized career plans help to achieve higher goals.  One thing is for sure; if you don’t develop or nurture your talent, your competition will. 

Step 2: Be willing to share success.

When I’m looking to expand our network of sales offices, I ask myself a number of questions: Is the new market underdeveloped? Is there an appetite for my clients’ products?  And, critically: Who can I trust among my own people to lead a new sales operation? The agents I trust aren’t just good at making sales and keeping clients happy, they understand the culture of our company and are good at building high-caliber teams. Be willing to invest in your most trusted leaders; if they’re successful, then you’re successful.

Step 3: Be patient with new endeavors.

There is no reward without some risk. But sometimes you must realize the risk a few times before realizing the reward. I started Credico in Canada primarily focusing on retail credit card sales direct-to-consumer. When I ventured into the U.S. market for the first time with this model, we stumbled severely. What we found is what works in one market doesn’t always work in another, and eventually learned that the U.S. market was more open to receiving energy and telecommunications services through direct sales than credit cards. Now, we have built our client base from one to 15 clients in the U.S., including six Fortune 100 companies supported by a sales force of more than 1,200 active agents. You must encourage your sales team’s entrepreneurial spirit to find what works and what doesn’t. With hands-on mentoring and training – and a bit of patience – I’m proud to say that more than 90% of our associated sales offices are successful.

Growing your sales organization can be daunting IF you DON’T focus your energy on the PEOPLE in your organization. How will you foster an entrepreneurial culture in your sales organization?