“Why are you making yourselves irrelevant?”
asked a NSM at a recent sales management meeting. As I looked around the room no one was smiling. It wasn’t a trick question.
She went on to say, “My gut feel is that many of you are actually making a living in spite of yourselves.”
“Here is what I mean. On average, our SR daily call rate is 7. So over a month, if you do 2 in-field coaching days that works out to be 14 sales calls with you …. and 126 calls without you.”
“In other words, for every call they make with you, they make another 9 without you.”
“Many of you would be lucky to actually have 2 full in-field days with each member of your team… that means the numbers become even scarier.”
She then paused, took a sip of water, and stared at the sales managers in front of her.
“Want to know our biggest blind spot? The thing that restricts our market share the most? It’s what the SR does in the 126 calls that’s critical, not what they do in the 14 calls.”
“So,” she said, fixing everyone in her gaze, “Let me crystal clear,
Great selling is defined by what happens when you’re NOT THERE.
Great managing is defined by what happens when you’re NOT THERE.
Great coaching is defined by what happens when you’re NOT THERE.”
“There’s nothing worse than spending a day with a SR coaching and managing and the next day, when they’re by themselves, NOTHING CHANGES.”
“Are you sure… no, are you positive, that your in-field days create some change, no matter how small?”
The question was rhetorical. Too many managers were looking anywhere but at the NSM.
Then, in a soft voice that had a razor sharp edge to it, she said “Your people create results. Not you, not me, and not the company. Your people.”
“And those results come from the 126 calls they make without you!” She paused again and took a sip of water.
“Here’s the bottom line.
Without a customer, the company is irrelevant. BUT
Without a hi-performing 126-call SR, you’re irrelevant.”
We were all a little relieved when the morning tea break was called. Not surprisingly there was very little chit-chat about next weekend’s sport.
Back into the meeting the NSM introduced the next session by asking, “what needs to be in place for you to be relevant, always relevant, to your SRs?”
No one was really game to speak up, so the NSM eased back and said, “a few of you mentioned over morning tea that you think I was a little too harsh….. that you can manager and coach your SRs via email and phone calls and such.”
“In fact one of you told me that they have complete trust and faith in their SRs to get the job done, and that frees up time to get on top of their admin and other tasks and projects.”
“It’s interesting that that team has the highest turnover rate.”
“Now let me ask that question in another way. Imagine that we let all our SRs go and sell to our customers via email, social media, hard copy post, etc. Would our sales climb or fall?”
One brave soul stood and said, “Fall. Selling is human-to-human contact, and the most effective contact is face-to-face.”
The NSM applauded the answer and added, “I’m asking you to do with your SRs what your SRs are doing with their customers – influencing their behaviour ethically and respectfully AND face-to-face.”
Here’s the thing.
You expect your SRs to do this via a deep understanding of their customers and their needs.
I expect that you will do this via a deep understanding of your SRs and their needs.
Influence is, after all, a function of relevant service.
The path to a hi-performing 126-call SR means being with them regularly, talking with them about their aspirations (not yours), being valuable to them for their personal and business goals and to listen, really listen, to them.
The Bottom Line: Relevance may well be your biggest challenge. The good news is that you are always relevant when you understand your people and meet their needs.