Managers: It’s Easier Than You Think1

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Puzzle man

When working with sales teams there are some specific things I look for to understand the makeup of the team and its members.  These are things that indicate how open they are to learning, to change and to commit to the effort it takes to change THEIR reality.  There generally different indicators based on their industry, tangible vs. none tangible, and the nature of the sale.  Interestingly tenure as a rep or with the company is a much smaller factor than one would expect, and of course the big delineator is whether they are and have regularly made their number or not.  Let’s look at the latter group, not that those making their number can’t learn or improve, those are not are the drag on the system.

The one tell tale indicator is what they focus their attention on to change.  The sub-quota reps will always focus on those things they cannot change.  A direct contrast to the consistently deliver, who will habitually focus on those things they can change.

Let’s face it, it is much easier to want to deal with things you cannot change, you can look involved, you can point to this and that, you can blame the elements, and you can completely avoid accountability while pretending and going through the motions of being accountable.

Instead they need to be taking the time, energy and resources and deal with things that they can actually change and impact.  To be clear, this is not about the usual reluctance to change, this is about taking accountability for do what needs to be done, and doing it.  Not change what they are doing, just do something, anything.  In larger companies these are the folks always ready to participate in work groups, make endless points during broader meetings, again looking engaged while doing nothing.

Rather than getting frustrated, which is what they want, because it will validate that things are not working which why they can’t get things done, take the game to them.  Agree on the objective, a measurable objective, a revenue number, a pipeline coverage number, a number of meetings per week, or the like.  Put it up on a while board, then ask them to list to list all the barriers they face.  Eliminate the ones that were already addressed and fixed last year, but are still etched in their psyche; eliminate all the ones beyond their control, you know things day light savings time, the price of gas, the Leafs never winning the cup.  What you will be left with are the real thing that impact their performance that they have control over, and then it is time to step up, if they do, great, if they don’t then it is your time to act.

What’s in Your Pipeline?
Tibor Shanto

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Are You An Enabling Manager? – Sales eXchange 1900

By Tibor Shanto – tibor.shanto@sellbetter.ca

Enabler coach

Probably the most important role in a sales organizations ability to ensure successful and consistent execution of their sales process is the front line sales manager.  They are the ones that distill the central message down to the local team.  They are the ones who ensure that the discipline and the measures that are required to succeed are implemented, adhered to and improved, both in day to day interactions with their team members, and in their design and delivery of the individual sales reps’ annual coaching plan.   They are the ones who hold the individuals on their teams accountable for their activities, SOP’s, and the delivery of revenues/clients.  No one in the organization is in a greater position to enable their team members to succeed.

The question then becomes, what are they enabling.  As with parenting, enabling involves more than just providing, you need to be actively involved, you need to be actively setting the example.  By this I don’t mean showing your people how to sell, but setting the example by adhering to the process yourself.  How do we expect sales people to do all the things they need to do to succeed, including the mundane and trivial activities, if we don’t do ours as managers, if the manager can take shortcuts or deviate from the process, well why not the rep.

Many parents enable their kids by looking the other way when they find them doing things that could be negative or harmful, as o many sales managers.  Some rationalize things by pointing to the fact that the rep is good, delivers the numbers, they don’t want to interfere.  Unless you feel that your company’s processes are bogus, you could be missing a great opportunity for that same rep to improve, deliver more, or deliver their current success with less effort or time.  By looking the other way you are letting the rep down and your team.

If you have reps who are not always delivering, the 80%-90% of goal reps, and they see that you are letting some people pick and choose, you are asking for more issues.  One is that you don’t really care what they do or how they do, basically they are on their own till the end of month/quarter tally.  In this vacuum of leadership and lack of support, two things happen; first, absent the manager’s involvement, they look around to see who is succeeding, and do what those successful sellers do; and as discussed above, they are not following the proven process, so they conclude that they don’t need to either, but since they lack the god given skill, they are doomed to stay where they are or even regress after a time.  Second, these 80%-90% players looking to improve become great recruiting targets, often for no other reason than the opportunity to be coached, supported and enabled to be 100%+ players, something you can enable them to do here and now, just by getting active and involved.

Enabling takes planning, action, work, and accountability.  Like many parents you can say that you enable your kids by letting them make their own choices, and deal with the outcome.  Or you can actively engage, set parameters, expectations and an example, and in the process enable them to succeed, rather than enabling them to no succeed; both are enabled.

What’s in Your Pipeline
Tibor Shanto

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