I have wondered for years if there are constants in sales management. Are there principles that would help me help others in the area of management? I realized, first and foremost, that there are two basic types of leaders: bottom line managers and people managers.
The bottom line manager is not invested in the individuals that make up his or her team as much as the people manager. The bottom line manager asks, “Is the team as a whole meeting their quotas?” The people manager, on the other hand, is deeply involved in his teams every day struggles and doesn’t pay close attention to the bottom line. Over the years, I have seen extremes in both camps. The bottom line manager tends to meet objectives by intimidation; however, this manager also tends to have extremely high turnover rates in his or her organization. The people manager tends to have longevity within his or her organization, but also tends to have inconsistency in production. What are the best practices for incorporating both?
Be a leader of integrity. I place this as number one, not because of arbitrary ranking, but because of importance. While studying the great leaders in history, the one characteristic that stands out in all of them is integrity. Without this trait, there is no leadership. Once the integrity issue is violated with your people, you lose the ability to lead. The vision you painted, the course you charted, is no longer attainable. If one little white lie is discovered, the ability to trust you on major issues is always in the forefront of your peoples’ minds.
Set expectancy in the interview. Most people do not have a problem with certain expectations and tasks, as long as they are aware of them up front. Make this a part of any interview process.
Structure is crucial for beginners. In the insurance field, a majority of the time, the individuals that are hired have no background in sales or insurance. They come from industries where they are expected to be at their desk at a certain time, complete certain tasks by a certain time, and be told when they can leave for the day. The insurance industry, as a whole, brings them into an environment where we may teach them principles for sales and products, but doesn’t place them into a structured environment for them to succeed. Balance is crucial here. We do not want to be so structured that they feel smothered, but we also want to offer enough structure for them to thrive.
Try to find out up front what their motivation is. There are three primary motivating factors that can be categorized as Fame, Fortune, or Romance. It is really easy to assume that every person who applies for a sales position is money-motivated (Fortune) and this can become our battle cry. While this can be the case a great deal of the time, there are those people who are going for the company trips and dream of winning that vacation for two (Romance). But in reality, many people are motivated by the prospect of getting an award and walking across the stage (Fame). The acclaim will motivate this group far more than money ever could. Learning what motivates your salespeople will help you better uplift them when they are not having the week or month they thought they would.
Know their limits and push the boundaries. Too many times, an individual will have preconceived notions of what they are able to achieve and, consequently, set their sights too low. They are constrained by their thoughts and beliefs. A good manager will always push those boundaries and stretch their goals. Once the salesperson achieves the stretched goals, you can stretch them again. Helping individuals expand their vision and achieve their goals is going to help you and your organization achieve your goals, as well.
By John Benson