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Building an efficient sales leadership team across generations

Cross-generational team building is today’s critical management skill


If you're looking to build a highly proficient sales leadership team for this era now's the time. Whether you're developing a new team or restructuring an existing department, be cognizant of this rare time in history where age diversity is at its most prevalent -- you may be sitting on the opportunity of a lifetime as a team leader. 

I've found that identifying specific attributes in your leaders and producing an effective sales environment is a precious skill set, especially when managing multiple generations. 

Here's why. Effectively leading a multi-generation salesforce requires the ability to identify the universal traits of proficient sales leaders, coaching and guidance of your appointed leadership team, and an adaption of your organizational strategy to accommodate ownership and growth. Your opportunity is to bridge and align this strategy amongst all generations. 

Here's how. When you look at your sales department, no matter the disparity in age or generations, try and identify individuals with a similar propensity of hunger, optimism, and entrepreneurial spirit. Who can influence? Who do others look to for guidance? Who constantly suggests ideas or enhancements? Who consistently leverages their contacts both virtually and in-person to generate sales? It may take some time, but you'll eventually uncover the influential sales leaders that love opportunities to create ideas, develop and own projects, lead initiatives, and win regardless of their peer group. I've concluded that identifying these traits within your leadership team is foundational on the journey to reach revenue objectives. However, it will sometimes seem complicated and require an immense amount of patience and fluidity from you as a leader.  Across all generations, experienced sales leaders tend to deliver effective results and help cater to a vibrant and thriving sales department. 

It's also essential to remember that these traits don't always translate into an ideal candidacy for overall sales management, so be discerning when outlining actual management functions, skill sets, and applicable duties. After you've identified and positioned your sales leaders, you'll need to communicate departmental goals and educate them on financial objectives. Coaching may seem rudimentary but educating your sales leaders on company finances and enhancing cross-departmental acumen is critical in tapping potential. It's a transferrable knowledge that's consistent and beneficial across all generations in helping them own and understand their universe. Illustrate where the organization is heading and where you need their focus and priorities. 

Your investment establishing your team's awareness and comprehension will provide them confidence in their decision-making. The key is in the communication delivery as you don't want to create an environment that is averse to risk. The ideal situation is a sales leadership team that thoroughly understands revenue flow in which everyone owns their share of business growth while maintaining an optimistic and entrepreneurial outlook. 

Finally, eliminate everything else. After you've just empowered your sales leaders to attain their objectives by leveraging their talents and connections, the last thing you want is for them to become burdened with non-sales-related tasks. Hire for financial, marketing, and administrative assistance where applicable, leverage technology at every corner, and coach your sales leaders to be mindful of their time. Managing sales leaders in this era is not as much about customizing circumstances for boomers versus millennials versus gen z. Instead, try and identify the effective characteristics transmigrated across all generations that develop relatable communication and strategy across your entire sales organization. There are hundreds of additional steps in between, but by mastering cross-generational team building, you can become an even more prominent leader no matter what era you're living.  

E&P warmly welcomes our latest contributor Richard E. Brown. Brown is a News Media Alliance Rising Star recipient, the former director of renewals and digital sales strategy at LPi and the former director of digital operations and sales of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He currently serves as head of digital subscriber churn for Gannett | USA TODAY NETWORK.


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