Five perspectives that’ll help you thrive, rather than just survive.
Most managers I talk to say that their main goal is to help their team members reach their full personal and professional potential.
So how closely does your intent match your style or approach? Here’s a great medical example to illustrate it.
A study in 500 back pain sufferers found that the highest predictor of treatment modality was NOT patient’s symptoms or their medical background. IT WAS the background of the doctor.
They found that surgeons wanted to operate, physiotherapists wanted to massage and stretch, and acupuncturists wanted to stick needles in certain places, and the like.
When the only tool you have is a hammer, all your problems look like nails. (Abraham Maslow)
How flexible is your management and coaching style? Is it a “one-size-fits-all” approach? Are you more concerned about sales rep compliance (doing things right) than commitment (doing the right thing)?
This inflexibility in coaching style or approach originates in your desire to get to solutions, to fix things, to do something (anything?) the way you’d do it. I mean, after all, you’re the one in-charge!
Maybe that desire needs to be checked?
In fact this short term expediency of you fixing problems the way you’d do approach them comes at the sacrifice of long term rep development.
Step back. Remember to “think, then plan, then do”. Which is the most appropriate approach for this rep’s “what needs to be done?” and “what’s right for their slice of the business?”
If something didn’t work, chances are that it wasn’t the “something’s” or the rep’s fault.
As you listen to a team member say, “I tried mailing birthday cards with a hand-written message, or I tried phoning them for an alternative appointment date, or I tried developing a relationship at an educational event, or whatever AND it didn’t work” ask them about the kind of message they had developed for the customer.
If the results were dismal then you need to resist looking first for a fault in the implementation and with the rep.
It’s more likely to be an issue about the message they were communicating; was all about them (the rep), or a product feature, or a blatant close or maybe, just maybe, it was plain boring.
Instead focus first on what kind of tailored message gets the customer’s attention?
What will make them smile, nod, laugh, gasp, or ponder? What will get them to feel an emotion, start to think out loud?
Then ask, “How can we deliver that message appropriately?”
Change won’t occur simply because you provide good reasons to do so.
Instead, ask the toughest question any sales manager can ask, “What are you willing to change now? Not in a week or 2 or when you get a clear desk?”
And follow that with “And what else?”
A discussion about change is more likely to be about rearranging, or maybe even losing some so-called priorities. If everything is important, then nothing is important.
Try this role play for a person who needs a bit of a jolt.
Tell your rep, “You have been promoted to Sales Manager and you’re now interviewing me as a potential replacement rep for this territory.”
Then ask them, “If I were to join your team, what do you want me to do differently than the person I’m replacing”.
Here’s another medical example.
A doctor’s treatment of a patient must be a balance between creating a positive experience or outcome, ie they get better: the rash resolves, pain is relieved, AND avoiding a negative outcome, ie they get worse; no further infection or exacerbation, ensuring patient compliance, avoiding negligence.
You could probably debate that most of what happens in a surgery is not about what patients came there for (to get better) but rather to avoid them getting worse.
So what about you and your sales team?
Step back and reflect; how much time and effort is spent ensuring bad things won’t upset your day versus taking a risk and promoting reps taking chances?
Asking your team to be more creative and innovative may be counterintuitive to the team.
Make sure you discuss this fully, setting clear expectations.
The Bottom Line:
Developing an inspiring management and coaching style works a whole lot better when you start with yourself; if you want a more motivated sales team, look at how motivated you are. If you want them to be doing things differently, show them that you’re not afraid to take risks.
Setting an example isn’t just important in influencing others; it’s the only thing that the team will really notice.