A Crushed Spirit Dries Up the Bones: Be Kind AND Direct
“Please describe what happened in your last meeting with our customer Mr. Handy?” “How much time did you spend last week calling your leads for appointments?” “What networking strategies have you put into place?” What are your key activities for next week. When Misty asked you to help her last Tuesday, how did you respond?”
Confronting others, as a competency, plays a big part in the success of a sales manager. The ability to communicate straight up with a sales team or a salesperson makes up one of the more important traits of a great sales manager. Some do it well. Some avoid it.
In the last month, I’ve battled with others over following processes, developing sales plans, and asking questions during first appointments. These encounters or confrontations do not necessarily bridle with emotion. They do require going on the offensive and communicating with questions, assertions, and sometime challenges.
When managing sales teams, situations emerge which require or create confrontation. That is, IF someone establishes sales team and company standards and behavior norms. When these are important and in place, sales managers must confront salespeople over a variety of issues. Sometimes a person’s production or appointment activity drops. At other times, a sales manager responds to a customer complaint regarding treatment by a sale representative. Other typical issues arising and requiring confrontation include: gossip, tardiness, teamwork, and unethical practices.
Creative, highly driven salespeople often run over or around something in their way - including the sales manager. Many of these mavericks are exceptional salespeople and at the same time high maintenance. Gaining their respect is a function of a sales manager’s willingness to stand up to them, corral them, and keep them on the team.
People generally respect directions or rules if the sales manager pays attention to them. And, even though the best processes are put into place for the benefit of others, they get challenged - either by salespeople who ignore them, forget about them (habits not yet formed), or challenge their goodness.
Let’s take activity management as an example. Excellent sales team boards show monthly activity levels vs. activity goals, quoting levels vs. quoting goals, and sales goal achievement progress. The best of these boards include monthly actuals for first appointments set and held, quotes presented, and sales made - all compared to preset monthly amounts. In other words, sales managers and salespeople track the primary activities which lead to sales and income goals. When this process is well managed, people stay focused and encouraged. When it is ill-managed, salespeople either lose track, fake their report, rebel, or lose their spirit of hope.
Great sales managers do not crush spirits in their pursuit of standards and sales goals. On the other hand, they do not let time pass without taking on those who get behind, rebel, or display poor attitudes.
To balance their coaching communication, outstanding sales managers remember to address people in a kind AND direct manner. Some managers are direct, but never kind. Others are kind, but never direct. Having a Clear Talk session means being both kind and direct - even when firing someone.
One-on-One Discussions - Each salesperson needs these - some more frequently than others. For example, when a salesperson needs a nice kick-in-the-book, or activity management shows a need improvement, a sales manager sits down to listen first - and then to offer advice and direction (if necessary). The best of these discussion occur when a person sees the need, says they agree, and offers up correction actions to do - themselves. See - Say - Do. And, the manager ends the moment with encouragement and a play for future follow up.
Sales managers and salespeople participate in these discussions with CLEAR TALK. They listen first and then tell the truth as best they understand it in a kind and direct manner. Some managers are kind and not direct. While others are direct and not kind.
Keep the spirit of a person and a team at a high level. Do not crush anyone. Be kind and direct. You can do this. Lance.