'I am grateful for all of my problems. After each one was overcome, I became stronger and more able to meet those that were still to come. I grew in all my difficulties'. - J.C. Penney
There are four factors that contribute to successful selling:
- The seller WANTS to sell by putting in motivated effort
- The seller CAN sell because s/he is sufficiently competent
- The seller NEED to sell because s/he is met with clear demands related to short-term efforts
- The seller has the OPPORTUNITY to sell as a result of being met with the right framework (Source: Bateson & Dilts)
Four main leadership roles emerge from this model:
- The Motivator, who stimulates the WANT factor
- The Mentor, who creates the abilities necessary for the CAN factor
- The Manager, who ensures that the sellers feel the NEED factor
- The Opportunity Creator, who makes sure that the sellers have the OPPORTUNITY to sell
Let’s have a closer look at these four leadership roles – what they entail and what you can do…
Sellers usually have a demanding job that involves rejection and resistance on a daily basis. This means that a successful seller tends to be gifted with drive, a high level of energy, and a positive attitude. But these three qualities have to be maintained and this is the responsibility of the sales manager – the Motivator – who has to continuously stimulate the seller’s WANT factor.
Some of the tools that the sales manager can use as the motivator are:
- Machining the seller’s attitude towards the product in question – the seller has to believe in the value of the product
- Walk ahead to set a good example and show that it can be done
- Reward the seller in the short term
- Set realistic goals
- Celebrate victories and highlight successes
- Motivate the seller to use the company’s sales techniques
A highly motivated seller with no competences is like a fly in a jar – full of energy but with no sense of direction. As the sales manager, it’s important to ensure the competences of the seller on two levels: the conceptual understanding of the company’s products/services and the ability to employ sales techniques.
As the Mentor, one thing you can do is to create activities to ensure that the seller can:
- Teach (or have someone else teach) about new products, models, concepts, etc.
- Test to see if the seller knows the answers to the most important product-related questions
- Train (or have someone else train) the seller in relevant sales techniques and methods
- Use the meeting with all sellers as a platform for exchanging experience, tips, challenges, etc.
- Join (or have someone else join) the seller on joined visits and help him/her to transform knowledge into ability
The top motivated and top trained seller won’t take long to achieve some level of success – but when the days start to merge and the customers don’t do what the sellers want them to do, a certain level of pressure and control needs to be applied. The manager has to ensure that the sellers NEED to sell. Examples could be a quota on: phone conversations with cold customers, visits to important customers, or number of offer situations to new customers. By managing on a behavioral level, a synergy between the first to factors is created that roughly translated to the carrot and stick method.
Examples of what the manager can do are as follows:
- Visualise short-term goals related to effort and activity
- Make your expectations clear and, if necessary, formulate them as demands
- Convey to the individual seller where s/he is in terms of your expectations
- Create dialogue with the individual seller if the goals related to effort and activity aren’t met
- Make it clear that the desired sales results will be produced if the required effort is made (you reap what you sow), but that the company starts questioning the seller’s salary if effort isn’t made
- Adjust the level of manager focus from seller to seller. Some sellers don’t need to have their NEED factor stimulated all the time whereas others need to be checked on once a week (or maybe even once every other day) to see where they are in terms of the daily quotas and tasks
- Think in black and white – either it’s been done or it hasn’t
The Opportunity Creator
The seller who understands that s/he needs to WANT, CAN, and NEED is often, but not always very successful. The framework and conditions need to be in place. As the Opportunity Creator, your job is to:
- Start campaigns, conferences, and events in collaboration with the marketing department or any other department that generates good leads
- Remove all tasks from the seller’s desk than don’t demand the seller’s competences and time. If there’s anything on the seller’s desk that someone else could do better, cheaper, and faster, then reassign the tasks to give the seller more time to sell
- Be the seller’s man on the front of the rest of the organisation and ensure that service services, production produces, accounting accounts, and the warehouse supplies until the customer is satisfied. This saves the seller having to use time making advertisements, etc.
- Ensure that the seller’s basic needs are covered: the phone, car, and computer work, and mileage allowance is paid on time
- Ensure that the seller has updated brochures, presentations, flyers, business cards, etc.
All sellers are different and need different levels of intervention from the four leadership roles. Sales managers are different too – maybe your sellers need a different manager than you had back in the day.
Be the sales manager that the individual sellers need.