Lee Anne Crockett started her career in business early. In high school, she began getting involved in sales, working her first job at the local mall for Wilson’s Leather. At first she had wanted to work at the food court, and she found working at Wilson’s to be different, because she had to learn to talk to customers and deal with them to get them the product they want. However, pretty soon, she grew used to pitching different clothing items to customers, and she fell in love with the people connection you only receive in sales.
Now, Lee Anne Crockett manages a “larger portfolio of business,” and she enjoys “much more decision-making power.” Before, she used to sell to a low-level manager or a vice president; now, as corporate sales director, she sells directly to the company owner or CEO.
For more than ten years, Lee Anne Crockett has led sales teams of all sizes in both the “manufacturing and CPG industries.” She has spent an entire career in creating and implementing “several learning and development initiatives, including ongoing sales development, onboarding, culture development resources, employee resource groups, and other training and development programs.”
Lee Anne Crockett also works as a “leadership development and career strategist.” She focuses on helping women build and develop leadership skills that will help them advance their career faster. Through her work, no matter what it is, she “focuses on instilling processes and the ‘how-to’ component of learning and development.”
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Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Lee Anne Crockett: I have always had a passion for sales and have been in service-related jobs going back to high school. I love being able to form genuine connections with people and strategize to provide them with a solution that solves their problem. I have also always been drawn to entrepreneurship. After college, I was hired into a sales leadership role that required me to be an intrapreneur and run all aspects of my business, including selling and leading my team. Soon I was able to discover my third love, which is leadership & career development. From there, I was able to navigate my career with those passions in mind, making sure that each new career opportunity I considered allowed me the freedom to manage my own business, as well as to make meaningful connections with my customers and my employees. In 2014, I went back to school to pursue my MBA. During my time at Babson, I realized that starting a company of my own was a goal of mine. Since graduating, I have made a career move to a new role as a Sales Director, and have, as of most recently, launched my own coaching practice as a Leadership Development & Career Strategist.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
Lee Anne Crockett: When I first started my career, I was in an extremely male-dominated industry. At one point, I was the youngest person, only woman leader, and only woman of color in my area. I have had to deal with ageism, sexism, and racism all at the same time! Also, because I was in a service-based industry, I have had to handle insults internally by colleagues as well as externally by customers. It became difficult to handle, but I never considered giving up. I always rise to a challenge and felt that I couldn’t allow name calling or off-color jokes to scare me away. This would allow them to win. Instead, I fought back. I excelled at my job, and I pushed back at times where I felt singled out. I’m not afraid to go to HR and over time I developed a thick skin. In retrospect, these experiences have shaped who I am and are what drives me to be a good coach. I can now be a resource for women who are facing these kinds of issues at work.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Lee Anne Crockett: When I first started my professional career in sales, I had to pitch a large customer. I was SO nervous and stumbled my way through the pitch. I barely made it out of there without sweating through my shirt or fainting (I’m being dramatic) but I did it! I got a phone call from the customer the next day and the buyer told me “You did a great job presenting solutions for my needs but you never asked if I wanted to move forward! I’m not sure what comes next.” I was so overcome with nerves that as a salesperson I forgot to actually make the sale and ask for the business! I still laugh about this, but it’s a really good lesson and one that I teach often. The presentation cannot speak for itself or stand alone. Even if your pitch is amazing, you need to ask the customer for a commitment and lay out next steps.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you please share your “Five Things You Need To Know To Delegate Effectively and Be Completely Satisfied With the Results?” Please share a story or an example for each.
Lee Anne Crockett:
Be Invested — Delegating tasks isn’t just about getting work done in a time crunch. It’s about professional development. Start delegating tasks for the sake of challenging and developing your team, not just to get a project completed. Exposing your employees to higher level tasks helps you identify future talent and can boost morale on your team.
Know the players involved — Understand the capabilities of your team and meet them where they are. Not everyone is great at sales or finance, and others may grow into these skillsets over time. Understand where each individual is, know their strengths and interests, and plan tasks accordingly.
Be clear — Overcommunicate. If you need something submitted for preliminary review on Tuesday at noon, make sure you communicate that — multiple times. Clear communication standards also models an example for your employees and shows them what to do in the future when they may potentially run projects on their own or have to delegate to their employees or colleagues.
Touch base often — Make sure you check in to help answer questions and remove barriers. The same way we can be resistant to asking for help, our employees are the same. They don’t want to let you down or disappoint you. Even if they say things are fine, make sure you are allowing for some sort of debrief or review(s) before the final deadline to ensure quality work. This helps both you and the employee develop confidence in their abilities over time.
Share the love — we tend to focus giving special assignments to the one big star on our team. While this can get them a lot of exposure and experience, it can also overwhelm them. The rest of your team may not have the same level of capability as your star, but make sure you are giving several people things that they can handle or empower your star player to delegate to help ease the overwhelm. Just because each member of the team is not your next replacement or bound for stardom, doesn’t mean that you can’t up-level each individual member to make the team stronger overall.
Jerome Knyszewski: One of the obstacles to proper delegating is the oft quoted cliche “If you want something done right do it yourself.” Is this saying true? Is it false? Is there a way to reconcile it with the importance of delegating?
Lee Anne Crockett: I have often found that we default to this saying when we are time constrained and don’t have time for a “teaching moment” with our team. We want to get things done, and we want them to get done quickly. The easiest and fastest way to execute at a high and efficient level is to do things ourselves. However, being a leader requires us to relinquish control, which can be a hard thing to do. In order for our employees to learn, we have to let them make mistakes. They will never be able to grow and showcase their potential if we don’t allow them the opportunities to do so and give them space to make mistakes. Delegating responsibilities and providing feedback in constructive ways allows you (in the long run) to rely on your team to help carry the load and to develop their talents.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Lee Anne Crockett: You can find me on my website at www.leecrockett.com, as well as on Facebook and LinkedIn at Lee Anne Crockett.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!
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