Your sales team is like your “children”……they drive you up the wall….but they are your team. You’re defensive when someone speaks ill of your team, however, it is what is…they are terrible sales people.
How many of you out there lead a sales team can relate to the above statement? I bet a lot of you.
Being on ALL sides of the coin as a sales leader I understand the “Affection”….and the “Delusion”. Currently, one of my most challenging times as an entrepreneur is the “Cognitive Dissonance” I face almost on a daily basis convincing sales leaders of all industries that they need HELP if they find themselves in the above predicament. The reality is that most VP of Sales, Sales Directors, and leaders of sales teams obtain their positions due to their former excellence as an individual sales contributor, so there’s a ton of pride and yes “EGO” when it comes to their personal development. I say this coming from personal experience as a VP of Sales, you absolutely could NOT tell me anything about the finer points of leading a sales team and if you approached me about my competencies as a sales leader….we had problems. I understand the “Cognitive Dissonance” and the pride that goes into the role of a sales leader, however, if your team consistently underperforms and it’s clear to you that improvement is necessary why wouldn’t you ask for help? One of the things that just unnerve me is the sales leader that blames the team’s poor performance totally on the team and doesn’t hold him/her accountable. The below passage comes from my “Bible” for coaching, I encourage you to go pick this book up: “Coaching for Improved Work Performance” (http://www.amazon.com/Coaching-Improved-Performance-Revised-Edition/dp/0071352937)
“When asked what was the weakest part of their appraisal program, most companies answered, the face-to-face meeting between the manager and the employee. Companies frankly admitted that if the appraisal interview was conducted at all it was usually quite ineffective. Individual managers admitted they felt ineffective in handling these face-to-face meetings, especially if the purpose was to solve performance problems. In many instances they admitted that the situation seemed to be worse after the discussion than before it. The strange fact was that most of the companies recognizing managers’ failure in the face-to-face coaching process did not provide training in how to do it or the managers’ refused help.
Now, you understand why I pull my hair out to the point of looking like a “chia pet”. Look, again I understand the “Cognitive Dissonance” because I’ve been there I was one of the managers illustrated in the above passage, but, at some point I found it unacceptable to constantly state “MY SALES TEAM SUCKS…but I love them”!During this time of year is when “PANIC” starts to set in, summer vacations are coming to an end, and as a sales leader you’re receiving mid-term sales forecasts from corporate which show sales are 50% below forecast….“OH SH*T”. The immediate reaction is to find out who’s at fault, who hasn’t done their job, the reps stink and can’t sell, the sales manager is incompetent, and the finger pointing begins (Oh yes, I’ve been there too..). I’ve learned over the many years in sales & marketing leadership that the “PANIC” days come each year as a matter of fact they usually come around the August timeframe so my thinking I’m sure is landing with some of you. As a sales leader your #1 job is to drive sales from the beginning of the year to the end and the turbulence that happens in between (e.g. the sales peaks and troughs) is your responsibility to manage and importantly “COACH” your people up.
If you are like me the quip (“MY SALES TEAM SUCKS…but I love them”!) should piss you off and if it doesn’t it’ll surely piss off the folks at the home office, and they just might think….you suck.
“MY SALES TEAM SUCKS…but I love them”!
Also check out my workshop on “Field Sales Coaching”, contact me if you’d like to have this workshop rolled out to your organization (email@example.com) : http://www.slideshare.net/aharrell2000/field-conference-report-workshop-presentation4
Thank you so much!