I just re-read a very good article by Janice Mars of Sales Latitude and thought it was worth sharing.
The point of the article is that sales managers are inundated with salespeople and their questions and frequently get in a rut. They accept the role of reacting to salespeople and their questions all day long. They become the bottleneck, as Janice states. It is a dysfunctional dynamic.
I submit that there is a more dangerous problem that erupts. The sales manager’s favorite salespeople are the ones that don’t need much interaction ─ because they make it easy on the sales manager.
Beware, sales managers! Just because certain salespeople aren’t outwardly needy doesn’t mean they don’t need to be coaching, motivated and held accountable. Don’t become complacent just because your salespeople are easy to deal with. Too often we allow salespeople to become less than they could be, simply because we don’t have to deal with them much.
As the leader of the sales team is it your job to get the most out of every single contributor on the team. Those contributions might be uneven across the team, but do yourself and the company proud and demand excellence and over-achievement from all participants. Be cautious, though, because it is not a one-size fits all mentality. Individual salespeople need managed, coached, motivated, and held accountable individually.
Keep in mind that even your best salespeople can likely achieve even greater results, if coached and encouraged appropriately. Most salespeople hit self-imposed ceilings in their careers. Truly great managers cause salespeople to go beyond their own limited beliefs, just like great coaches in all walks of life.
Here is a simple 4-step process to make sales management easy and time-efficient for both the manager and the salesperson:
1. Set the expectations for the team as a whole, but require each individual to customize the expectations for their own performance and get their commitment as to activities and intended results for which they will be accountable.
2. Conduct regular 1-on-1 check-in meetings with the onus on the salesperson to share whether or not they executed their plan, or did the activities they had previously agreed to.
3. Compel the salesperson to figure out the answers to their own questions. When they come to you to ask you how to do something, or seeking advice about what they should do, simply say “What do you think you should do?” Then continue to ask more questions to help them discover the answers. I wrote more about how to do this here. Ultimately, they will develop greater confidence and have fewer questions for you.
4. Be exceedingly clear when results are not being attained and, again, put the responsibility on the salesperson to come up with the plan to correct it. You always retain veto power, of course. But it will be a growth opportunity for them and for you, if you expect them to fix their own problems rather than teaching them to keep coming back to ask you what to do.
1. Break your own bad sales manager habits that nurture the dependency and neediness of your sales team.
2. Distribute your coaching attention equally across your sales team, resisting the temptation to focus more on under-performers or squeaky wheels at the expense of other team members.
3. Make sure that your effective coaching process is in place, with regular one-on-one meetings with each individual team member.
4. Use coaching strategies that empower your salespeople to become independent thinkers. Have them determine their own goals, present them to you, be accountable for them, switch gears to reach them, and help them answer their own questions.
Follow these steps to put an end to dysfunctional sales team dynamics, improve your team’s sales performance and make better use of your valuable time!
Does this advice make sense based on your experience? Have you had a similar problem with your sales team? Let me know about it in the comments.
If you haven’t downloaded our “Get a Plan, Get Sales” worksheet, it is useful for helping your salespeople to identify and calculate their weekly and monthly activities towards their goals.