How to Get Peak Sales Performance Without Micro-Managing

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By Jonathan Whistman

I think it’s a universal truth: Nobody likes a micro-manager. Not even the one doing the “managing” likes to be called a micro-manager. You’ll typically hear the term used derisively to describe a manager who gets so involved in the little details that it gets in the way of people actually doing their jobs.  

In sales management you might find the sales manager obsessing over the CRM data; constantly monitoring the number of calls, meetings, and emails; or incessantly phoning the salesperson to get an update on what’s happening in the field (even when it’s in the CRM.) Sales managers knows that, ultimately, they are responsible for the sales results – and this pressure causes them to want to constantly check the pulse of what is going on with the team. Sometimes this creates the possibility of micro-managing.

How can you get peak sales performance without micro-managing? Here are a few power tips.

1. Automate as Much as Possible

Jarrod McCarrol, the CEO of Weber Slicers Inc., has found that creating a calling schedule inside his team’s sales CRM that tracks who and when the team member should be calling on their customers and prospects allows the team to stay in a good cadence of calling – and he doesn’t need to be the one to follow up and ask about this important activity. He calls it the “easy button.”

Each day, the team’s dashboard keeps the team focused. The CRM also is set to automatically remind the team members when they don’t enter the data needed in the CRM or when they are falling behind. Since these reminders are automated and come from the system, the team doesn’t attach the label of “micro-managing” to the manager. The result, however, is the same: the team gets the job done correctly.

Think through all the items that can simply be automated – that you might normally handle personally – without losing quality and you’ll see great results. For instance, you might use a service like Mindmarker.com to deliver short follow-ups on training to make sure the team is using new information they’ve learned. Or you might use the CRM data to visually post a dashboard somewhere to remind the team to focus on key sales indicators.  

2. Run Sales Meetings Consistently

Another form of automation is simply structuring how you start sales meetings – starting them in a way that creates some group peer pressure and keeps the focus on the right selling behaviors. Eric Levy, vice president of sales at Weather Metrics, found that having a structured check-in to start the meeting was effective. When his team huddled up for a sales meeting, each salesperson would check in without prompting by using a script such as: “My sales quota is X dollars and, this week, I sold X – bringing my total to X. That’s ahead/behind. I have X meetings scheduled this week and my focus is _____. I would like help with _______. I’d like to give kudos to so-and-so for X.”

Imagine if you had just joined this team and heard each salesperson do this scripted check-in. As it came around to you, what would you be thinking? For sure, you’d know right away that, on this team, knowing your sales number is important. Also, if you were struggling or had a tough week, you’d likely work even harder the following week to get your number up closer to the rest of your teammates. This is a powerful method of keeping the group’s focus. It has the added benefit of becoming a habit and nobody will feel the manager is micro-managing when it happens.

3. Stick to the Routine

Finally, use routine activities as much as possible. For instance, if you have role-play sessions as a matter of habit rather than just when you think someone is struggling, then the team will simply accept it as the way things are done. Nobody gets labeled a micro-manager.

The key to peak sales performance without micro-managing is simply to be creative in the way you organize, interact with, and coach your team. Build as much routine and automation into the system as possible and be consistent. I call that “Sacred Rhythms.” Sacred Rhythms just become accepted as “the way things are around here” and have a powerful impact on individual and team sales performance. Use that fact to your advantage when leading your team.

JonathanWhistmanJonathan Whistman is author of The Sales Boss: The Real Secret to Hiring Training and Managing a Sales Team. He is a senior partner at Elevate Human Potential, a sales consulting agency.

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