My sales team is driving me crazy!

“Why can’t they just do what I’m asking?”  “Why aren’t they increasing their activity levels?” 

“I’m just asking them to do what’s in their position description – if they did that they’d hit their targets!!”

I hear these comments all the time.  But telling these sales managers that they’re not on their own with this challenge doesn’t make them feel any better.  They’re frustrated, they’re under pressure and they feel like they’re running out of options.

So, why do sales people continue to do the same things that aren’t producing the results they need to achieve, yet expect a different outcome?  It’s the very definition of insanity really.  And, I don’t really think they actually believe the same behaviour will yield better results. 

 

This is the problem.

Any sales manager knows that getting someone else to do anything is virtually impossible when they don’t want to do it.  Sales managers are left with performance management,  reducing head count or becoming a micro manager.  None of these options are appealing….or effective at engendering long term change.

 

There is a solution. 

For anyone to change, first they must want to change and have a reason to change.  For change to happen, they must see that their current behaviour isn’t working and won’t get them what they want.  An external counterpoint is needed that gets them to see the situation as it really is, its impact on the organization/customers/the team/them and that unless something shifts, it’s not going to be great for them.  Change is coming and they have a choice: to be part of that change or to have the change happen to them.  Most choose the former.

Many sales managers struggle with using sales results on their own as the external reference point because they’re lagging indicators.  The horse has already bolted.  What’s difficult to measure are the leading indicators; in particular, the behaviours that will achieve the results. 

Sales managers need more than their own feedback as that external reference point because it can be argued against by a sales person (if even only in the sales person’s mind) as one person’s opinion, or that the sales manager has something against them, or that the sales manager’s presence during client meetings put them off so they weren’t at their best…..You get the idea.

Once you have mapped your sales process in stages, and broken down that process into the observable behaviours that demonstrate what good looks like, you can use consistent criteria to use as the foundation for an objective conversation.  What matters is that specific examples of great and poor must be provided by both the sales manager and the sales person for it to have real impact.

Working with an external sales expert can support sales managers and give weight to what they’re saying.  It’s similar to parenting a teenager: you can say something a thousand times and be ignored, then someone else will say the same thing once and it’s a revelation!  What matters is that one way or another they hear it.

This criterion can enable a sales person to see that perhaps the way they’re doing their role isn’t the most effective. Perhaps that even though they can provide examples of great action, they’re not as consistent as they need to be.  Then you have the foundation for a new action plan.  And you have the foundation for the sales person setting their own action (using the evaluation criteria) to focus on and implement.  It’s very hard for human beings to argue with themselves.

 

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