When asked to read The Sandler Rules for Sales Leaders, I thought, “this is only for sales leaders, right?” But I added it to my reading list and read it from a marketer’s perspective. Low and behold, many of the forty-seven rules applied to my job as a marketing strategist and leader in a small business. Here’s what I learned:
Teach, Don’t Fix
As a marketing manager/coach/mentor, it’s tempting to jump in and find solutions to problems and challenges that specialists face. For example, say organic reach for a social account is down. Your social media specialist brings that information to your weekly check-in. Do you: A. jump in the account and figure out why reach is down or B. ask questions that lead the specialist to find the solution on his or her own?
The answer is B, of course. To create a culture of accountability, it’s imperative that you teach employees to come with proposed solutions to problems. When they do, you can bring a perspective they might not see and assist in getting to fix. While it’s tempting to jump in and handle the situation yourself, teaching instead of fixing will create a culture of responsible, accountable employees that will be able to tackle tougher, more complex issues on their own.
Action: Practice asking smart, useful questions. Get good at this
Sandler calls this the rule of “Creating Self-Sufficiency.” Here’s a 3.5 minute video where they explain this rule.
Identify Failure Opportunities
Failure opportunities – that’s a thing? Yes – it is. We’re all human and we will all fail at some point. As leaders, we have to identify opportunities where failure is allowed and things that absolutely cannot fail. For a content marketer, this might mean taking a chance on a blog topic that you think will resonate with the target audience but not slipping on optimizing blogs for SEO.
Action: Ensure all new and current employees are given clear expectations for parts of their role where failure is accepted (and sometimes encouraged due to risk-taking) and where it cannot occur
Here’s a 4 minute video where Sandler explains this rule.
Manage Time Effectively
There are 2,000 hours to work in a year (40 hours/week with two weeks’ vacation). With a limited amount of time to meet goals and KPIs, it’s critical that everyone is working on things that will move the needle. One of the easiest habits to get into is being busy, but not productive.
Ask yourself and your team if what you are working on will make a difference. If you are unsure, consider re-prioritizing initiatives. The Sandler Rules call this pay vs no pay list of activities. Separate your tasks and responsibilities into two columns – this will help the company make money vs this is something I’m doing because I’ve always done it. It’s important not to work harder, but to work smarter.
Action: Ask every employee to undergo this exercise – for the quarter, month, week, and day. To be a value-based agency vs an hours-based agency, everyone has to know where they bring the most value in the hours they work.