We’ve all had the superstar sales rep, who hits their quota every month and doesn’t need any hand holding, and we’ve all experienced the less experienced type that isn’t sure how to fill out a call report, much less make a cold call.
Both can bring good results to the table if they are used effectively. Managing these staff members well is critical to the success of any sales team. By asking the right questions it will allow you to address the problems they are encountering on an everyday basis.
First, ask yourself, “who has the problem?” Most staff fall into one of two categories. They are either over or under achievers. Most good sales teams, the majority of reps are making their quota and have a good understanding of basic sales skills. However, staff that are in the underachiever group need a large amount of your time to see any type of improvement. Some will get better and others will not.
Second, “is this problem real?” You, as a Sales Manager, need to ask yourself if you are looking at the situation objectively and if it is serving as a distraction to your team. Sometimes the things that may bother you are personal and are not impacting the sales team. In other words, is it a behavior or a personal issue?
Third, “Where is the most work needed?” When dealing with underachievers, there may be a variety of behaviors that need to change, don’t try to change all of them at once. Focus on one new behavior/skill at a time, you may be surprised that once they achieve that skill some of the others may come along more easily.
Fourth, “What would you like them to be doing?” Have the rep focus on how to incorporate the new behavior instead of how to get rid of the old behavior. By simply replacing the bad behavior with a positive one the change will take place more easily.
Fifth, “How can you get your staff to not resist the change?” The best approach is to get them to see the results of their negative behavior. If they can understand how it is impacting their success, they can help create the solutions. By getting them to buy in, you are also teaching them the value of addressing problems down the road.
Finally, “How can you keep the change evolving?” Keep encouraging the new behavior and remember that it will take time. Reinforcement is critical to the change, so ensure that you don’t let your guard down. As a manager, it is your responsibility to help the change process to take place and without completing the process the new behaviors will not continue. Don’t forget that it will take place little by little, so be patient with it.
By John Hester