Are you overwhelmed by an incessant barrage of questions from your sales team? Frustrated because they aren’t doing the things you did automatically as a salesperson? Perhaps you are exhausted from hounding them about meeting their obligations.
Never fear, sales managers . . . each of these three pervasive sales management ills has a relatively simple remedy. The best part? The solutions are in your grasp, and have been all along.
#1: The Avoider Disorder
You tend to avoid conflict. In a sticky situation, your art of avoidance may elevate to the level of Where’s Waldo?
You’ve let one (or more) of your salespeople slide on their administrative obligations and you’ve put off having a conversation about it with them. Perhaps you have justified it because you are busy, they are busy, and despite the slacking, they are still producing at a relatively acceptable level. Meanwhile, you feel like you have to nag them about turning in their paperwork, updating their pipeline, entering their notes into the CRM, and so on.
It may seem benign, but when you avoid having difficult conversations with your team, you undermine your own authority. This often stems from what the OMG Sales Assessments refer to as a “Need for Approval Weakness.” In layman’s terms, it means the desire for people to like us is greater than our desire for them to perform at their highest potential. Giving in to this weakness shortchanges both you and your sales team because you aren’t taking action to end sub-par behavior and you are enabling the salesperson to underperform.
Tackle your problem head on. Sit down with your salesperson and help them make a fresh start. Tell them that what has been happening is undermining the sales process and there are going to be some new expectations to help them be their most effective. Clearly and specifically, establish those expectations. They may include: report completion, self-generated leads, call numbers, etc. Next, set consequences for not living up to expectations (leads withheld, expense checks withheld until compliance, etc.). Finally — and this is the hardest part — remove your emotions and enforce the consequences.
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#2: The Sightless Leader
In this case, our manager is blind to what makes a salesperson tick, and what motivates them. Without getting to know them and understanding their “why,” it is impossible to tap into a salesperson’s motivation and help them reach their goals. Assuming that all salespeople are similarly motivated is short-sighted, indeed.
You may have been promoted to sales manager after being a superstar salesperson, highly self-motivated and driven by commissions. Now that you are the manager, you are befuddled by salespeople who aren’t motivated by money. Like you.
You end up frustrated with your salespeople because they don’t do what you did when you were a salesperson. You don’t see why they wouldn’t be self-motivated to work tirelessly towards closing more business (and bagging the associated commissions). You are tired of harassing them to take the most basic, obvious steps.
Open your eyes. It’s not true that all salespeople are money-motivated. It’s also incorrect to think all salespeople will perform as you did. To be successful as a sales manager, you have to learn how to tap into each individual salesperson’s motivations. See them for who they are, not as reflections of you. It’s up to you to bridge the distance and help each salesperson perform.
# 3: The Guru Complex
This may start out because you enjoy the attention and it makes you feel important: all the salespeople are coming to you for answers! Each question strokes your ego. Not to mention, it’s very expedient. Another. Problem. Solved. By the Guru.
If you are telling not asking, you aren’t coaching. If you expect your salespeople to employ consultative selling methods and become experts at asking questions, you need to model it for them. Spoon-feeding them all of the answers stunts their growth. It’s better for salespeople when you empower them to answer their own questions and nurture their independence. Lastly, feeding your guru complex means your time will be sucked away by constant questions from the salespeople who depend on you for all of the important answers.
Get off your soapbox. Change the conversation. Pose the questions back to them, and help them get comfortable with finding their own answers. It will free up your time, make you a better coach, and make them much more capable salespeople. For example: What could you have done differently? What are you going to do differently next time? What do you think you should do? What advice would you give you if you were me?
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Do you know The Guru, The Avoider, or The Sightless Leader? Let us know in the comments.