Sales Managers Quick Check Inventory, Part 2

Posted: September 13, 2010 in Making Customers
Tags: , , ,

In the last article, I took a look at the first three management problems or issues; Not Enough Field Time, Taking the Lazy Way Out and Too Much Telling, Not Enough Asking. In this article I’ll take a look at the next two management issues. While I have identified 10 areas, fortunately, nobody has all 10, or else they would have been fired, quit or gone into taxidermy long ago. But from time to time, most of us struggle with one or more of these. And they hamper our effectiveness. While we can’t be perfect, we can avoid the little missteps that cause a lack of respect and an erosion of our leadership capability.

So let’s get to the next two.

> Treating Everyone the Same. You need to have consistency in many things; responsiveness, respect, fairness and a myriad of other issues. Some of these issues often have legal consequences if you aren’t consistent. However your sales people are not the same and should be treated as individuals. Their personalities are different, their needs are different, even what they want from you is different. Some want attention, some want recognition, others want to be your friend, some want help, and others want to be left alone most of the time and want only large doses of respect, support and trust.

A warning: unfortunately, there are those who like to let the other salespeople know that they are your favorite. An insecurity that compels them to create, in the minds of the rest of your staff, a special and entitled relationship with you that doesn’t exist. Your communication to all of the salespeople, individually and as a group needs to help define relationships, their boundaries and reinforce the salespeople you respect as leaders on your staff without offending everyone else.

It can be done subtly. If you use illustrations of how certain salespeople dealt with a certain situation, it will become clear who the more respected members of your staff are. With a new hire, who do you direct them to as a team leader, someone to help them get up to speed quickly? Without publishing a list or making a public declaration of support, you can minimize the impact of the usurpers, posers and political opportunists on your staff by reinforcing those who have the skills, attitudes and abilities you want others to model.

> Wasting Time with Poor Producers. Do you have a project? A person that you are spending time with, seeing the potential and hoping that some day they will get it together? That’s nice. I’m glad you are a caring person. I’m happy you see their potential and want them to reach it. But you are not the social services director running a division of the Peace Corp. You were hired to get results. Do you realize the effect of their performance and behavior on the rest of your staff? Have you analyzed the amount of time you are spending with this guy as opposed to his productiveness? Potential is like a bad check, you have it, but you can’t cash it.

Everyone has problems, issues and life can come at people hard. I’m not talking about the temporary struggles that we all go through. The death of a loved one. A divorce. That call from the doctor when the tests come back. Problems with a wayward child. These all need proper time and attention from you. I’m talking about the chronic malaise that seems to hang over someone like a fog. They just can’t see clearly. Their life, for whatever reason, just doesn’t work. And they carry their baggage with them, unpack it at the office every day, and are a distraction. They are causing the entire team to not run smoothly. Always a new excuse. Always an issue. A deadline missed, again. Another bad report about them from a formerly satisfied customer. Another Monday calling in sick with the vague symptoms of a suspicious illness. A last minute call with a personal problem that prevents them from the mandatory meeting, or help on a team project, or report.

You know what to do, and you are frustrated because they don’t seem to respond. You’ve been as patient as Job. But the squeaky wheel doesn’t always get the grease. Sometimes it gets replaced. And needs to be. Your standards aren’t what you talk about in meetings, put in handbooks, wallet sized cards or splash on your website, they are what you tolerate.

Next time I’ll take a look at why, despite all your best efforts to communicate, they just don’t seem to get it and make the change you want to see.

By Kirk Chittick

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