You are the leader of the sales team. You got there because you know what to do to sell your products and services. Whether your team is experiencing success or is struggling you probably have to direct your salespeople from time to time. Maybe you have to tell them exactly what to do and say to be successful. Certainly during onboarding you will spend a significant amount of time “scripting” them. You must make sure they own the stories about why your customers choose your services. They must learn the right probing questions to ask to get to the heart of the matter.
Also, you probably gave them a plan of attack that will help them produce the right outcomes. Hopefully, you initially helped them calculate the math of success so they understand what activities they need to do and how much of each will produce enough opportunities to successfully meet goals.
Avoid the Dependency Rut
But, there comes a time when managers fall into a rut. When you only tell your salespeople what to do and forget about the rest. When your salespeople become so dependent on you for guidance that it drags on your time. If you find yourself in this rut of giving directions and telling your team what to do then you may need to change your approach. Sure, it may make you feel good or important to have your sales reps come to you for advice, but when the advice turns into a session of, “What should I do?” as opposed to, “I have an idea I want to run by you.”. . . it is time to change your behavior. You are allowing them to become too dependent on you. In essence, you are allowing them to delegate their responsibilities up to you.
To change the conversation, use these simple questions:
• What could you have done differently?
• What are you going to do differently next time (next week, next meeting, etc)?
• What do you think you should do?
• What advice would you give you if you were me?
• It could have been even better if….?
How to Fix it
As sales leaders, you can help your salespeople use their brains and their creativity. In the process, they will become more confident, more able and likely more successful while you gain some time and control of your life back. If you are a control enthusiast and find it hard to allow salespeople to work independently, then set parameters, outside of which they must seek your approval. But help them grow and develop independently. This will allow you to go about the business of managing ─ including coaching, holding your salespeople accountable and motivating them ─ instead of telling and directing.
If you want to see how we evaluate a salesperson’s ability to quickly pick up new ideas and become a fully-functioning independent salesperson, take a look at the Objective Management Group’s Salesperson Candidate Assessment and focus in on the “Figure It Out Factor.”
Get OMG’s comprehensive sample candidate assessment here: