Lessons & Losses: My First Year as a Sales Leader

Lesson 1: The Daily Journal

A leader is ultimately responsible for of overcoming major & minor crises that impact the team and its objective. Depending on the size of your team, this can be a daily and arduous challenge. Often, it’s the small insignificant situations that occur frequently which are the most dangerous to a new manager. This is because new managers are vulnerable to missing the leading indicators of long-term issues They build and become difficult challenges that cannot be solved easily if not addressed early.  

How I decided to handle this was by keeping a daily journal. The importance of my journal cannot be overstated. It started with keeping little notes to myself about a range of things from what time a person came into the office, to internal discussions about processes. By filtering out the noise and identifying patterns I proactively work through complex ideas and develop creative strategies. I compile my real-time observations, thoughts, and feelings to better prepare for tomorrow because I want my finger on the pulse of the team. Getting caught by surprise is unacceptable when others depend on your leadership. Keeping a journal is extremely useful as a stress management tool. Stress is a career killer, and sales have an exhilaratingly stressful career path. Failure to decompress from mentally exhausting activities is a common factor in burn-out. My journal works as a supplement for my active mind. It frees me from the anxious torment of potentially forgetting something important. I can comfortably decelerate my active awareness into reflective relaxation. This headspace is ideal for nuanced emotional reasoning and creativity which makes reflection and strategic planning more effective.

Practically speaking, the style and length of your log depend on your bandwidth. I have no issue writing extensive notes for myself, but it’s fine if you only have time for bullet points.  The goal is to capture valuable data to act and reflect on. Additionally, the method of data capture needs too little to no barriers and be easily accessible. Using disconnected systems is challenging if you’re not meticulous. I use OneNote because it’s multi-platform and feature-rich but there are many others that have similar functionally. Again, the goal is to make it easy to use, so you use it. What I usually do is collect and compile my morning ideas during lunch and afternoon notes on my commute home. I’m lucky enough to have mass transit as an option but not everyone does. Adapting the methodology is important for each individual situation to achieving maximum effectiveness.

Turning my journals into weekly reviews helps me better focus and develop winning strategies for my SDR team. Every week, I spend time reviewing and analyzing my logs which gives me a solid reference to what took place that week, what worked, and what didn’t. It gives me focused clarify on how to be a better and more effective manager and leader. It’s enriched my relationship with my wife because I am free to live in the moment with her and not absentmindedly wandering into the abyss of “work stuff”. Anyone who is struggling to combat their daily battles should really investigate into making a journal for themselves

-Malcolm Smith-

My name is Malcolm J. Smith and I am the Sales Development Manager at LEAP Legal Software in NYC. I am obsessed with making every day awesome and overcoming challenges.

I find inspiration in many thought leaders including Jeb Blount, Morgan J. Ingram, Marylou Tyler, David Dulany and Grant Cardone. My journey from AE to SDR to my current role as the leader of our Sales Development team has been an absolute thrill ride. The purpose of my articles will be to share my experiences and provide discussion topics the motivate and guide future SDR leaders who are mentoring and building phenomenal SDR teams.


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