1. Never walk into a your first team meeting and feel like you have to set a benchmark, then and there as being a hard nosed, aggressive sales manager that wont take any shit and wants immediate results
There is no quicker way to lose respect, demotivate your team and sign your P45 than this. I have seen this several times, and 2 things always happen. 1) Your good team members leave (and then you end up leaving); 2) you leave. This approach has never EVER worked. In my most recent experience of this, our team were number 1 in the UK & Ireland, and had been for 2 years. Our previous Senior Exec moved up to a more senior role, and our new Senior Exec wanted to leave his mark from day 1. Within 12 months, 4 team members had left (including myself) and the team was 3rd from bottom of the 64 Commercial Centres across UK & Ireland. In my 19+ years of Sales & Business Development, I have never seen a team combust like that before. The benchmark was set… as being quite possibly the worst Senior Exec in history.
2. Don’t forget the importance of praise on its own
Always give praise where it is due, and never double barrel the praise with a ‘feedback sandwich’. Give praise, give feedback, just do not do both when praise is due. From a subordinate point of view, the feedback sandwich (in my career history) did not work unless my line was truly trying to deliver a very difficult message, although most of the time I knew that message was coming anyway. The whole ‘you are amazing, you are not amazing, by the way, you are amazing’ always left me walking away thinking, huh? If someone has been amazing, drag them into the room, high five them, give them a hug (is that still PC?), whatever you feel is appropriate, smile and say ‘wow, amazing, keep it going, ‘cos you are HOT HOT’.
3. Stop focusing on the numbers and more on me and the team
Get to know your customer facing team, as each member is different. Take some time to sit down and impart some invaluable best practice sharing and wider market knowledge. One of the best managers I have had, let me listen to or join in on one of his sales calls/meetings every week as a new starting junior of the team. It helped change my tone and my language (body and verbal), as well as instilling a real respect for him and the work that he did. I was even prouder when he overheard one of my sales calls, and using some of his language he came over, patted me on the back and said, “mate, awesome”. He genuinely loved that I had listened to him well enough to mimic what I thought I could deliver when I spoke to a customer. The figures will come, when your team is firing.
4. Stop allowing the team to sit in the office and make sales calls from the desk
With technology now moving faster than ever, sales people are getting more and more lazy. I appreciate outbound telephony, or overseas sales; these are impossible not to allow (although with Skype & Facetime this is also enabling face to face contact). Those that make the effort to meet the customers face to face win the business, fact. There is nothing more frustrating (when you are doing well) than sitting in a meeting where the whole team is getting the hairdryer treatment for another poor week, when the last 2 months you have seen the vast majority not out of the office. Get on them early. Kick them out of the office, whatever it takes. We all want to see the team doing well.
5. Allow us the time to invest in ourselves
Apart from 1 to 1 sales coaching, allow your team members time to do some professional development. This may include, audio book work, sales professional book reading, training courses; whatever they feel is best. Give them some ideas, but allow the decision to come from them. These professionals are offering genuine expert advice, and yes, whilst this is from the perspective of 1 expert at a time, there just may be something in that book that connects with them. It may also help them understand some part of the sales process better, and whilst there may never be the “magic pill of sales stardom”, it will build confidence and push them to test the new knowledge on customers.
By, Daniel Ireland, Managing Director of Our Sales Experience - an end to end sales & service company that helps small and medium sized businesses engage better with their customers at varying touch points.