Sales is performance sport.
The key to success for a sales manager is to have a team of top performers.
As we have seen with sports teams that are stacked with great players, they don’t always win championships. Less talented teams who have great chemistry and are committed to doing what ever it takes to win usually come out on top.
When I coach sales managers on how to get the best out of their team, I realise that not all top performers are created equally. To be successful there is a second factor that is just as important as performance. It is not just about what we do to perform but how we do it.
Many companies call this “Values and Behaviours”. When it comes to evaluating the sales rep overall performance companies will look at sales performance and values and behaviours equally.
So why am I sharing this with you?
This week I had two coaching sessions with sales managers from different companies. One sales manager was new and the other had 20 years of management experience. What they had in common was that they both shared with me the challenges they were having with a top performer on their team. The details of the challenges they face with these top performers are strikingly similar.
This got me thinking that this is a much bigger problem that many sales managers are dealing with. I want to share some of the details and provide a possible solution.
Sales Rep #1 Pat: Tenured rep/top performer
- Repeatedly calls their manager every day (6 times a day)
- Leaves voice messages, sends texts and emails their manager on the same issue
- Expects the sales manager to solve all issues
- Complains about their team mates and the office support people
- Doesn’t pick up the phone to resolve issues
- Expects people to respond immediately to requests
- Is the first to complain about their sales managers
Sales Rep #2 Randy: 20+ years experience/top performer
- The only sales rep who continually complains about their colleagues
- Sends the sales manager emails complaining
- Doesn’t go directly to the person to resolve issues
- Works in the interest of the customers at the expense of the company
- Doesn’t take responsibility for their actions.
- Always blames others
- Complete lack of self awareness
As you can imagine these two reps consume most of the sales managers time and energy in comparison to the rest of the team. I call these reps “Energy Drainers”.
The underlining problem is that these two sales reps have not been well managed by previous sales managers or the organization (senior leadership) has consciously decided to overlook these negative behaviours for years. The organization was willing to accept these behaviours because the sales rep was delivering their numbers year in and year out.
There was a fear that if managed the sales rep would leave and the company would lose business. In fact, the company has helped to create this monster. They have been ENABLERS.
Both sales managers are intent on changing these behaviours as they are feeling consumed by the energy required to deal with their sales rep.
Both sales managers feel that sitting down and having a discussion with the rep on the impact of their actions and what they expect from the rep would help change the reps behaviours. Really?
These negative behaviours have been going on for years. Do they seriously think a stern talking to or a warning letter would make a difference? Well it may. But only for a short period of time and then these same behaviours will resurface.
My recommendation is that the sales managers need to change the way they approach the rep to create any change in behaviour. Yes it is up to the sales manager to change how they manage the rep.
Step 1: STOP ENABLING bad behaviours
Anytime the sales rep exhibits any of the undesirable behaviours, FIGHT the easy route to give into them. Don’t enable the behaviour or it will continue to go on.
Step 2: Redirect
In order to extinguish the behaviour you need redirect it. Explain to them how you are going to do things differently and any time they go down the path of exhibiting the undesirable behaviour you must follow through and do what you said you are going to do.
Let me give you a couple of examples of how this would work.
Pat calls his/her sales manager multiple times a day and if he/she doesn’t reach him Pat will then immediately text and/or email him.
- The sales manager allocates half an hour at the beginning/end of the day to speak with Pat.
- Any communication outside the agreed time will not be responded to or read.
- Do not and I repeat do not respond outside the allotted time when the phone rings or when a text comes in.
- When speaking to the rep at the allotted time and s/he complains about others, ask them if they have spoken to that person.
- Do not and I repeat do not fix the problem.
- Stay the course and within a couple weeks you will extinguish the undesirable behaviour.
Try this approach and stick with it. It is up to you to change your behaviour so as not to enable and allow the reps behaviours to continue.
Feel free to share your challenges with your Top Performer/Energy Draining reps.
Let me know what successes you have had.