Cheesy title – granted, but it was what just came to mind when I was reading some responses to my earlier blog on Great Sales Leaders. One of our sales community members was remarking about managing a team of people when none of that team actually report to him. This is one version of the classic matrix organization, which is a challenge to understand and “get,” and takes skill to manage. Personally, I have worked for several matrix organizations, and it is a unique way to work. It is of course funny to me when I bring this up to different sales professionals and I get a blank stare and some of them think I am speaking of the movie series…but I understand because so many of us in the sales community have worked for sales organizations with a more traditional sales reporting hierarchy. By the way, I have never seen the Matrix movies, and yes, I need to rectify that so I don’t get so many strange stares!
Sorry…I digress. What do I mean by a matrix organization? One where reporting lines are a mixture of hard and dotted line. An organization where you need to motivate and leverage people around you to achieve a common goal when none of them actually report to you. In essence, one could argue that we all work in some kind of a matrix. As sales campaigns becomes more complex and contain so many moving parts, we need the expertise of more people internally to help close the deal! A matrix organization requires that you have extraordinary collaborative skills. You must be able to influence and accept accountability for the result without formal authority of the people who are necessary to make the deal happen. If the concept of team selling is not second nature to you, then working the matrix will be frustrating for you as a sales professional. Not thriving in a matrix does not make you any less of a sales professional, but it does limit you to a degree, and it also limits your ability to do that all-important NETWORKING!! One great side benefit of effectively being a part of a matrix group is meeting people you would not usually meet and creating good relationships that might very well help you downstream.
So, “working the matrix” is no walk in the park. Let me hear from you about your experiences and how you made the matrix work for you.