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4 Steps to Achieve Mindful Leadership in Channel Sales

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Bana QashuBy Bana Qashu

What does the term “mindful leadership" mean to you?

It's not all woohoo! To me, it's the ability to live life with a clear and mindful consciousness and exercise my core values – integrity, humility, hard work, innovation and confidence – as I manage vendors and partners for Avant Communications’ sales enablement organization.

I recognize that others’ core values may differ from mine; understanding and recognizing those differences is what makes us great sales leaders. Be mindful of the fact that someone's core value may be your trigger when communicating, though the intentions are pure. Be mindful of your triggers, and let them go when communicating with that partner, customer or individual. Both take practice and patience.

It is never personal until you make it personal, especially in business.

I share with you today the four key steps to mindful leadership in sales, based on my own experience and core values. I urge you to create your own principles to sell and partner by.

  1. Understand who you are, your capabilities and whether your current company’s values, mission and vision align with your own. If innovation is important to you and you thrive in making fast, smart decisions, maybe a large, publicly traded company is not where you belong.
  2. Know your worth and what you bring to the table. Exhibiting a lack of confidence will be detrimental to building credibility with the customer, partner or vendor. Beware of ego — it’s a fine line between confidence and cockiness. When in doubt, practice humility. None of us knows everything, and partners and customers won’t all excel equally in every area. It's OK to walk away from opportunities or partners that are not a good fit for your solution, thereby honoring their time and yours. Know your worth and the value of what you are proposing. Which leads me to No. 3.
  3. Learn something new every day, in addition to sales, technology, telecom or finance. Expand and diversify your world by exploring other interests. For example, in the last four years, my engagement with golf and the sports world has had a positive impact on my conversations. Also, my passion for yoga and meditation has enabled me to live mindfully.
  4. Follow the golden rule. "Do to others as you would have them to do unto you," is critical in sales and in life. I learned early in my career, having been a director and managing people and budgets at age 22, that your reputation, education and integrity is all you own. Everything else is outside your circle of control. Karma is tried and true, and should you believe in a higher spiritual being, he or she is watching too.

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When I was promoted into channel sales, initially I was taken aback by the culture. I had to take a step back to examine the overall environment within the industry. The adage that I learned in direct sales was that “those who sell on price die on price."

Similarly, in the channel, I realized “those who sell on percentages and spiffs die on those commissions and spiffs in a complex sales environment." Remember, your competition is adding value with confidence and resources that may be costly, but that deliver lasting value.

I found myself referencing Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" and questioning the meaning of partnership. Until recently and after joining Avant, I realized that my passions and core values were not in full alignment with previous roles, creating a slight imbalance in achieving my goals. I hold myself to personal financial goals that extend beyond my published "quota."

I went back to my core values and have experienced tremendous success, to which I owe and am grateful to partners and customers who truly understand the meaning of the word partnership. Investopedia.com defines a “partnership" as “an arrangement in which two or more individuals share the profits and liabilities of a business venture. Various arrangements are possible: All partners might share liabilities and profits equally, or some partners may have limited liability."

Complex sales have created a need for subject-matter experts to guide customers to the right solution.

Are a need for channel harmony and collaboration changing your view of direct and indirect sales? Then it's time to drill down further and see what values mean most to you as an owner, channel manager, seller or technical expert. Are they aligned with what you’re doing today to go to battle for your customers and partners in a mindful way?

As Sun Tzu said, "The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win."

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. For questions, comments or feedback, contact me today at bqashu@goavant.net.

Bana Qashu is senior partner manager at Avant Communications.

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