REALITY QUESTION FOR SALES MANAGERS: Why would you, as a leader, take an improving salesperson who is having the best year of their career, and tell him or her they’re “not making enough calls”? Why not do something to actually help?
REALITY ANSWERS: (Pick any or all that apply.) You’re an idiot who knows nothing about leadership, coaching, or creating winners. You’re a micro manager with little or no current sales talent yourself. (You may have sold before, but that was before the internet – and you’ve probably never tweeted). You’re an unschooled leader, following the old way rather than learning what’s new. You’re using CRM as an accountability tool, rather than a sales tool. You’re totally clueless about your customer base and what will grow more and profitable sales. OUCH!
Successful sales leaders…
• Manage the sales cycle, not call activity.
• Measure the sales cycle, not sales activity.
• Help make follow-up calls with their salespeople to learn more about the sales cycle.
• Study the last ten sales to help understand what will make the 11th.
• Discover their most profitable customers – and then go on to uncover WHY they’re the most profitable.
• Find where the profit comes from in every sale.
• Discover their most loyal customer – and WHY they stay loyal.
• Make a few sales calls together with their people.
• Teach salespeople to ask better questions that emotionally engage.
REALITY: Maybe by spending more VALUE time with each existing customer it will increase their wallet share and your market share, and referrals will go UP.
REALITY: Maybe making too many calls is actually hampering growth. Someone measuring activity and numbers would never know that. Pity.
“Measuring activity” gives you a false read on the reality of sales. And as a leader, a manager, a coach, a teacher, you have a far greater responsibility to help increase sales than to just bellow out “more calls” as your cure-all answer.
And maybe more calls IS the answer, but until you uncover the other ninety nine possibilities, you have no right to destroy or discourage your best salespeople from becoming better.
Or worse, they quit because they’re sick of you and your style.
Sales management and sales leadership is one of the hardest jobs in the world. First you have to know each of your people, why they’re working, why they’re working for you, and what will make them better. Second you have to know your customers, why your customers buy (beyond price), and what keeps them loyal. Third you have to be a better salesperson than they are. And fourth, you have to be a great teacher – able to convey your knowledge in a way that others WANT to hear you.
You know these things so that when your salespeople come to you with issues, you can actually help them make the sale – not make more calls.
Make more cold calls? Huh? In 2013? Really?
If you’re looking to become a hated sales leader, with lots of turnover, make your people make lots of cold calls.
If you’re wanting to drive your best people to the competition, make your people make lots of cold calls.
And if you’re looking to have low morale and poor performance on your team, make your people make lots of cold calls.
• The new cold call is a social media connection. Start with LinkedIn.
• The better cold call is an expanded relationship with an existing customer.
• The best cold call is a referral. One that you earn, not ask for.
BIG REALITY: The object of sales leadership is to IMPROVE INDIVIDUAL SALES, not improve “team” sales.
BIGGER REALITY: Your encouragement and enthusiasm – to them, and with them – will help build both their confidence AND their sales.
BIGGEST REALITY: Managers somehow believe their salespeople want to be on their team and win for the team and the company. To hit some big goal arbitrarily set by management. Nothing could be further from the truth. Salespeople wanna win for themselves and their families – and they wanna win for their customers. Not for you, your other employees, or the company.
Get a grip on “why” salespeople want to win. Give them real-world help. Coach them, and it will have a major impact on their sales, and your leadership success.
The Golder Rule of Leadership, and Life.
DO THE RIGHT THING ALL OF THE TIME – Jeffrey Gitomer
“I want my people to be accountable.”
“I want our people to be MORE accountable.”
“Our main issue this year is ‘accountability.’”
Sound familiar? Accountability is the number one recurring theme throughout sales leadership in the United States. Sales leaders want their salespeople to be more accountable for their actions, activity, numbers, and (of course) sales.
And it’s TOTALLY WRONG, TOTALLY BACKWARD, TOTALLY INSULTING, and TOTALLY ANTI-SALES.
How’s that for an opinion?
REALITY: NO SALESPERSON WANTS TO BE ACCOUNTABLE. They got into sales so they WOULDN’T have to be accountable.
But sales leadership, even in their current CYA situation, has no concept of “field reality.” Rather, they implement some form of accountability through CRM (customer relationship management), and wonder why NO ONE uses it, much less keeps it up to date.
CRM is an advanced form of database that that helps salespeople keep track of customers, and on the surface it seems like a great tool. But it’s complex, cumbersome, and requires additional work. Leadership, who bought CRM for the wrong reason, expects all salespeople to document everything. But salespeople don’t.
CRM programs are the most-purchased, least-used software in the history of the computer. Why?
The reality is: CRM doesn’t help salespeople make sales.
Which brings me to today’s subject: accountability versus responsibility.
Sales leaders who want their people to be accountable are passing off their leadership duties to someone else, and then blaming them for failure. Wrong approach.
Leadership and accountability are at the opposite ends of the spectrum, especially the sales spectrum.
THINK ABOUT IT THIS WAY: You’re accountable to me. (Not good.) I’m responsible for you. (Much better.) And responsibility has a much more inclusive meaning.
As a leader, you’re responsible for your actions, responsible for your people, responsible for your attitude, responsible for your leadership skills, and certainly responsible for your results.
As a leader, the only person you’re accountable to is yourself.
And if you pass on the same strategy and philosophy to your people, that THEY are…
• responsible for their actions
• responsible for their customers
• responsible for their attitude
• responsible for their sales skills
• responsible for their results
…your acceptance and respect as a leader will ensure positive growth.
If a salesperson takes responsibility for his or her knowledge, pipeline, customers, sales, income, and success, your job as a leader shifts from a paranoid accountability manager to an encouraging, supportive leader.
What’s the difference?
• Accountability sends the wrong message. It implies forced leadership and micro-managing. It has at its base “you are” and “you must” as a process. It’s “childish.”
• Responsibility sends the right message. It’s individualized and team-oriented. It’s “I am” and “I will” as a process. It’s “adult.”
• If I’m accountable, it’s less likely that I’ll ever do my best or be my best. Rather, I’ll do what’s necessary, and report at the deadline – or just after.
• I’m responsible has a chance to include character building and pride in my achievement and work.
• I’m accountable lowers morale and creates disdain on the part of salespeople.
Here is the most telling difference:
“You’re accountable” indicates a corporate directive, and an order.
“I’m responsible” indicates a personal decision, and a success opportunity.
As negative as accountability is, there is one place it fits. You are accountable to yourself. You face the accountability mirror of truth every morning and every evening – in your bathroom. You are accountable to yourself for your attitude, your actions, you’re your results.
And in the end, accountability will still be “on message” and erroneously rule the sales airwaves, even though what I have written is truth and reason.
Tired of waiting for the
economy to get better?
Tired of not getting the results you
know you’re capable of?
Tired of blaming situations and
circumstances for your performance?
You can win in this economy.
You can win with these
Here’s how to convert whining to winning.
Everyone wants to have their “best year ever,” but the fact is that more than half won’t. And of course, you’re reading this thinking, “too bad for THEM,” because you’re CERTAIN that you will.
NOTE WELL: Thinking you will can put you in a positive position to help make it happen, but it doesn’t guarantee it. You also need to act on the goal.
The leader of a symphony orchestra knows how to play every instrument. He also knows how those instruments blend together to create a symphonic sound. The leader of a choir knows every note that everybody has to sing, and knows how the voices and notes blend together to make harmony.
They’re actually called “conductors” – but you know what I mean.
When you can take both of these leadership elements and put them together, you have symphonic harmony. You have a team that knows their individual talents, knows their individual notes, knows their lyrics, knows how to play, knows how to sing, and knows their timing of when to do both – to create team harmony. And IF the leader is prepared, in control, and respected, the results can be spectacular.
If you’re the leader of these people and these elements, it is imperative that you know how each player must perform, or you will fail. Same in sales.
All sales leaders and bosses want their people to be a team. All salespeople resist it, because they just want to sell — but they often need other team members (accounting, production, shipping, service) to make it happen.
THE TEAM SECRET IS: Everyone must know his or her own skill and know it perfectly. Until they know themselves, they can’t play well, or sing well with others.
THE LEADERSHIP SECRET IS: To be able to extract the excellence of their people’s performance combined with the excellence of their own performance.
Often salespeople don’t live up to their potential and don’t do their best, or they make mistakes along the way. This is where leadership can make it happen, or break it down and continue with less than stellar performance.
THE LEADERSHIP REALITY IS: If you’re a real leader, you can’t blame the players for poor performance. You have to be the teacher, the conductor, the coach, and the encourager.
On the eve of a symphony performance, thousands of people pay to watch the orchestra AND the conductor perform. And at the end there is usually a thunderous applause, cheers of BRAVO!, flowers given out all over the place, and, at the urging of the conductor, members of the orchestra standing one or two at a time to take individual applause and a bow.
You, as the spectator (the customer), paid for and saw a one-hour performance.
But the outcome was not determined by their performance that evening. The outcome was determined long ago when they were practicing. If they didn’t practice, their performance would not have been acceptable.
Same with you. And the key is the message I’m trying to transfer. Leaders and orchestra members PRACTICED TOGETHER. It’s the same in sales. You can’t just be the boss or the manager. You also have to be the leader by example, and the coach who knows the game.
Here are two more indicators you’re on the winning path:
1. You’re attractive. Not pretty. I’m talking about people calling you up on the phone because they want to work for you. Did you ever have a college professor that everyone would line up for and hope they made it into his class? The questions you need to ask yourself are: Who’s willing to line up and wait for me? Who wants to play on my team? Who wants to sell for me?
2. Your former players stay in touch with you. People move on with their careers. I want anyone that leaves to say that you were the best coach, the best leader they ever had. You don’t just win best coach — you win the game of life.
Boss or leader? Boss or coach? Boss or teacher? Boss or encourager? The choices are obvious as they are written. Your challenge is to make them a reality. I hope you do.