Leaders lead but they also make an impact by influencing others around them. Influence by definition is “the action or process of producing effects on the actions,behavior, opinions, etc., of another or others“. Are you as a leader doing that today?
As a sales leader it’s your responsibility to influence product and marketing. As the ears and eyes to the market you can provide valuable insight on what your customers and competitors are wanting and saying. Certainly this information when presented properly to your product leaders will help shape the future direction of the product. Even if it doesn’t its your duty to share that information. Objectivity is the key to getting your message across along with the data. Share the details of the information like the who, what, when and where. I’ve found scheduling a follow up meeting with the customer and product team the most effective way to collaborate. This is especially true when you’ve uncovered a specific need that the current product cannot solve. Collaborating with your product colleagues creates trust and trust leads to influencing. Influencing product development is a win win for you, the team and the company.
The same rules apply to your colleagues in marketing. To influence it is best to be the messenger and not the dictator. BtoB marketing is often judged by the number of qualified leads they generate but as we all know it’s the wins and losses that matter most. Influencing marketing will increase your needs being met and ultimately increase the wins or winning percentage. A great way to have a big impact on demand generation is to share win/loss data on a regular basis. This helps get both parties on the same page but also helps focus in on who are your key “winnable” targets.This provides valuable data to the marketing machine on where to spend for demand generation and keeps sales people relatively happy. It’s also important to share competitive go-to market information like positioning, presentation, pricing, and product. Again, the main point is to influence and share knowledge. These are your best tools to get the job done.
Key take always to effectively influence:
1) be objective by sharing key information from the field
2) provide key data backed up by the who, what, where and when
3) be a messenger (knowledge sharing) and not a dictator
We’re all part of the same team and keep in mind that the big stick doesn’t work with non-sales people.