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Talent & Recruitment
PODCAST TRANSCRIPT: Recruitment & Talent, “Tracy Kapteyn on How to be a Leader of Sales Teams”
Aug 21, 2017 | Canadian Professional Sales Association, Recruitment & Talent Series lock

In this CPSA recruitment and talent podcast, we'll talk about leadership and how to be a leader, not just a manager, of sales teams. We've heard time and again that management and leadership are not synonymous terms.

Management means the way we've always done something and it's a manager's job to ensure expectations are at least being met. Leaders move things forward. They inspire and encourage us all to embrace change and take risks and drive beyond expectations. Granted, leaders do have to manage. Being able to do both is quite a skill, especially when it comes to sales.

In order to stay competitive and grow the business, sales leaders must not only provide the tools and resources to keep them motivated and selling, but they must also be able to identify and leverage their team's greatest strengths. Inspiring their sales people to make the most out of his or her skills while helping to grow the business is key. Giving your team some level of autonomy when it comes to managing their daily activities is also important.

Sales leaders provide coaching and guidance for their teams so they can focus on maximizing their strengths and closing their deals. Accountability is also critical for sales leaders and their teams, knowing when praise is due and when adjustments need to be made. Sales people want leadership that embraces transparency in their organization and that leads to clear objectives, continuous learning and career paths. They want to know how they can play a part in building and sustaining a winning culture.

Kevin Grossman: Our guest today is Tracy Kapteyn. Tracy is Vice President of Global Sales Operations and Marketing for TMP responsible for new business sales administration and operational management in all markets worldwide. She is also responsible for events marketing and developing and delivering innovative demand generation activities.

Tracy brings more than 20 years of experience in sales, marketing and customer support from a diverse range of industries including telecommunications and consumer packaged goods across national, international and global markets. She has led teams, successfully supported many clients and partners and has helped many businesses and business units evolve.

Since joining TMP Worldwide in 2009, Tracy has held leadership roles in account services and product support. Customers and peers appreciate her knowledge, clear communication and overall her ability to deliver results.

Kevin Grossman:Tracy, thank you so much for being on the CPSA recruitment and talent podcast. Before we dive into the rest of the show, please tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do today.

Tracy Kapteyn: Hey Kevin. When I look back on my career today, I would say that most of my business experience, most of my career, has been working with clients in some capacity or another, so whether it was from customer service, sales, marketing, product support or some combination thereof, mostly external clients. Some internal. I joined TMP Worldwide in 2009 to do both sales and marketing together. Again, one of the luxuries of working for an organization that helps companies with their recruitment marketing strategies and technology solutions. I now support global market across North America, Europe, Germany, France, India, Singapore and Brazil. Today, more specifically I lead our global sales operations and marketing.

Kevin Grossman: Speaking of global sales and then considering that you've help run a global team as well motivating the sales team to close and grow the companies is not just about money, as I'm sure you are full aware. They also want strong leadership that keeps them engaged and motivated, so why don't you share three attributes of what you feel is a strong sales leader.

Tracy Kapteyn: There's obviously a number of attributes that people talk about for strong sales leadership, but when I thought about this, there's three that predominantly come to mind for me. One is being results driven and that's I think for me, a combination of being organized, sharing a sense of urgency and really focusing on the target. I use the word strategist and problem solvers and that kind of talks about intuitiveness around what's going on with the opportunity and problem solving with respect to when you're working with sales teams. We need to be able to help them reduce the sales cycle sometimes, expedite a decision or a signature so that's where those attributes come in.

The other thing obviously that overreaches it all I think, is hiring ability so if you don't have quality reps and then you don't hold those quality reps accountable, you're ultimately not going to get sales.

Kevin Grossman: That's going to creep up and get you, absolutely. When it comes to inspiring, based on those attributes, when it comes to inspiring your salespeople to make the most out of their skills while helping to grow the business, what do you recommend in that regard?

Tracy Kapteyn: This might sound a bit cliché but I read this in an article and I liked it. It talks about establishing an environment where sales team members continually seek to prove themselves. Really, what that means is as with a lot of other leaderships, public recognition always helps. Providing opportunities for them to share best practices among themselves and for me, I think a lot about being fair, especially when it comes to territory and account assignment. Then overall, you have to help and so sometimes you just have to dig in and help get the RFP done. Help get the proposal or the pitch developed. That kind of thing. You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and show them that, not only lead them but you can work with them.

Kevin Grossman: Tracy, in that same line, I like the point that you made about publicly acknowledging the good things that your teams have been doing or individuals have been doing on the team as well as giving them a forum to share their knowledge and their expertise and their insights with the rest of the team as well.

What kind of forums do you do that in? Is that something that's done on ... Do you have an intranet for TMP? Is it done publicly at in-person meetings, virtual meetings? How is that done?

Tracy Kapteyn: At TMP, I think a lot of it when I look at what we're doing is kind of informal, where the team that we have in place today is really good about sharing amongst themselves. Good news stories. Best practices, etc. How we formalize it is at least once or twice a year, there's meetings that are organized that bring the groups together, where we ask, great situations where we've been successful, we ask the teams that have done that to share it with the rest of the organization and the team.

Kevin Grossman: That just catches fire, doesn't it? I think it does when you do that within the team and letting other people share their inspirational insights. It helps to keep everybody motivated and helps you do your job too, don't you think?

Tracy Kapteyn: Yeah. As much as I love watching the competitiveness of sales, because I'm very competitive myself but it's also really nice to see ... And I can just speak to the latest team that I work with here at TMP, is they are very appreciative of what they can take from one to another. They're more than happy to share, to help amongst themselves.

Kevin Grossman: Speaking of autonomy, you mentioned that just a few minutes ago early in the podcast. It's really important, especially when it comes to the individual sales people managing their daily activities and getting stuff done, having some level of autonomy. You also mentioned helping to provide, rolling up your sleeves and helping them dig in and get the work done as well; can you give some more even more specific examples of how you help your sales team focus on maximizing their strengths in closing the deals? Like when you say helping with their RFPs, what's a day in the life of you like to get that done?

Tracy Kapteyn: This particular piece, I condensed it to four things come to mind. One is closely monitoring performance and that has a lot to do with reporting and regular communication around that reporting because again, as we all know sales is about the numbers and you can use that regular communication and reporting talk to instill some accountability. Then beyond that, I think it's about accessibility. Accessibility to me as a resource and a tool to help them. Then field time. You got to get out there and go spend time with the reps and the clients together.

Kevin Grossman: Accountability is also critical for you, as a sales leader, right? Knowing when praise is due and when adjustments need to be made. We talked about accountability a little bit over the past few questions but how is your accountability overall in your organization? How does that work from a leadership on down?

Tracy Kapteyn: I've said this already a couple of times, right? About sales being all about the numbers. It makes it easier when it comes to accountability as long as you're managing things right. I take that back to consistently tracking and communicating results and expectations and that's really it. It obviously helps when you have the right reporting and CRM systems in place to enable that but again, it comes back to the tracking and the communication around the actual result and the expectation.

Kevin Grossman: Let me ask you this, Tracy. Do you yourself have a mentor or a coach? Whether that's somebody internally at TMP or externally that you work with regularly.

Tracy Kapteyn: I think yes and no. Probably more so in previous roles and organizations but I have had a mentor here at TMP, maybe a little bit more recently. Not necessarily a sales mentor, one where I've got somebody to ... A sounding board and somebody to bounce things off of from a leadership standpoint and where she actually comes back to me with great ideas that can help me improve and implement.

Kevin Grossman: Where I'm going with that, is that I think that that's something that's really, really important. Especially in organizations where usually sales and account management roles for companies at least I'm familiar with and that I've worked with are usually in desperate teams, meaning that they're all remote. Everybody's all over the place. I think it's really important when you have somebody that you can be a sounding board for that maybe elsewhere in the organization.

I'm going to ask you another related question as we wind down this podcast, is when you are bringing new salespeople on board, because you also mentioned at the beginning of this podcast that hiring is a very important aspect of sales leadership and leadership in general which I completely concur, considering that the space that we are both in as well. What is that process to get somebody onboard? I know there's the old sales cliché, let's hit the ground running and sell, sell, sell as quickly as we can but there's still work to be done once they come onboard, right? They have to learn, especially if they're from an outside industry. What is your process in getting your sales team ramped up?

Tracy Kapteyn: Good sales people have the skills and the attributes to succeed, right? A lot of that has to do with customer relationships. The number one thing for me, when onboarding a rep is to orient them with the organization but more importantly actually the products and the services and the positioning that you represent. Usually, it takes a little bit of time to do that. Not a lot of time, but as soon as they have a little bit of confidence in the ability to properly communicate that, from there they're just taking what they already know and what makes them successful to move forward.

Kevin Grossman:Out of all the things that we've talked about then Tracy, how would you summate creating and sustaining a winning culture that helps to keep your sales team and the entire organization motivated and engaged overall? What do you recommend there?

Tracy Kapteyn: For me as a leader, I don't see a lot of differences when it comes to employee engagement across departments. Good leaders promote strong employee engagement. That's good employee satisfaction for good and good generally is happy sales people, they're motivated a lot by their own success which makes it a little bit easier but overall, you still have to instill things like we talked about already. Like focus, empowerment, confidence and decisiveness obviously helps too in moving things forward.

Kevin Grossman: Tracy, thank you so much again for being on this CPSA podcast. Where can we find out more information about TMP and what you're doing today?

Tracy Kapteyn: About TMP, you can visit us on our website, TMP. If you'd like you can connect with me directly. You'll find me on LinkedIn or you can email me at tracy.kapteyn@tmp.com.

Kevin Grossman: Excellent. Thanks again, Tracy. I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Tracy Kapteyn: Sounds good. Thanks for the opportunity, Kevin.

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