By Sherri Sklar
Recently I received the following email from a VP of sales, asking for advice about how to bring out the best in his people:
We have a relatively new team and I am noticing that the first-line sales managers are spending a lot of time swooping in to “save” the deal. If they don’t step in, they say we’d lose the deal to either competition or no decision. I know we need to be developing these reps, but they are concerned that, if we take time out to coach and train, we’d lose the momentum we’ve got going with these deals. But, even with the managers stepping in to drive the deals, I’m still not getting the results we need. Reps are getting frustrated that they aren’t more empowered and many are starting to leave. Help! Is there a better way?
SWOOPING IN SALES VP
Yes, there is a better way. Take note of these simple points that could make all the difference in bringing out the best in your people and their performance:
- Embrace a new mindshift about your reps. You, yourself, as the head of sales, have to start seeing your reps as the secret weapon. As soon as you have that vision, you’ll realize you need to do everything in your power to develop and coach your reps into being amazing, trusted advisors for your customers. That’s when the magic begins. Your customers will start to see your sales being able to make an impact on them and their business – and truly look at them as partners and valuable assets to their business. When that happens, you win deals and your reps will make quota.
- Stop the swooping; start the coaching. Along with the new mindset, you need to stop the swooping. By swooping in, the credibility of your reps is being undermined and you are setting a bad precedent for an imbalanced buyer-seller relationship. When your rep has been undermined, your buyer will no longer perceive them as a “trusted advisor” on equal footing with them. Without being a trusted advisor, your company is seen as just a mere vendor, not a company that can make a difference – and, ultimately, not the company they will choose to do business with. Instead, use your and your first-line sales managers’ expertise to coach and guide these reps. You’ll find reps starting to feel empowered – and happy again that you entrust them with the job they were hired to do. They will most likely go through walls for you just because you are showing them you believe in them, you are investing in them, and you care about them.
- Build a first-rate sales management team. One of the most important roles in the entire sales organization is the first-line sales manager – simply by the fact that they have so much influence over the people who report to them. Are you sure you have the right people as first-line sales managers? If the reason these managers are swooping in is because they relish being the hero who saves the deal instead of enabling their reps to be heroes, then it’s time to assess whether you can coach them to be great managers or whether you should return them to the field as reps where they are at their best. Assess your management team, recruit great managers who are outstanding at leading and growing others’ skills, and weed out the ones who aren’t.
- Invest in your people. Coaching your reps and sales managers on an ongoing basis is one very important step. Make sure you are also investing in helping them grow their skills in all aspects of what they do by giving them great sales training and sales management training. The last thing you need is people second-guessing how to generate business; winging it will lead to 50 different approaches and 50 different outcomes. Give your organization the tools they need to succeed. By having an ongoing learning environment, your sales managers will be empowering their reps, building their reps’ skills, and equipping and empowering them to perform.
- Make it fun. Make it fun to be a part of your organization and to come to work every day. Create an environment where you are not only helping people grow, but also giving them the tools and support they need, along with team mentoring and manager mentoring. One way to do that is by conducting regular team meetings, sharing stories, recognizing great performance, and creating opportunities for friendly coopetition with fun games, contests and incentives.
Changing your approach by creating an environment that empowers your reps – giving them the support they need to succeed – will ultimately prove the better strategy in the long run, enabling you to amplify your results significantly by bringing out the best in your people and the organization as a whole.
Want more insight from Sherri? Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and join her at the Sales 3.0 Conference in Las Vegas on September 18-19, where she will present Sales Planning: Strategies that Leave Your Competition in the Dust.
Sherri Sklar is CEO of GrowthTera, a consulting firm that helps organizations elevate their performance to accelerate growth. For more than 20 years, she has helped companies deliver triple-digit growth, orchestrate liquidity exits, and emerge as market leaders in their field. She has trained, coached, and helped companies expand deal size, shorten sales cycles, build a robust pipeline, and convert stalled opportunities into multimillion-dollar closed deals. Sherri received a BA from Tulane University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.