Today’s post is by Josiane Feigon, founder and president of TeleSmart Communications. Hear her speak on “Creating Change: What’s It Going to Take for My Sales Teams to Start Selling?” at the Sales 2.0 Conference July 18-19 in San Francisco.
Asking salespeople to change their work habits, behaviors, and attitude is one of the toughest things managers face. Even when change is charging at us at breakneck speed, we can’t expect salespeople to instantly change – mainly because of these common reasons:
- 93.3 percent fear the unknown or failure
- 90.5 percent experience insufficient communication
- 90.2 percent are comfortable with current state
- 89.9 percent don’t see the benefits of change
- 80.6 percent lack preparation for new roles
- 77.5 percent are concerned for loss of status or job security
But, if we want to see real change, we need to really understand where salespeople are coming from – and the following Four Zones clearly explain what influences change.
- The Dead Zone: People in this zone have checked out. Basically, they just don’t care. These folks are probably your low to medium performers. They’ve plateaued, and have no desire to advance further.
- The Comfort Zone: People in this zone are sitting comfortably in their own little world. They are complacent, resisting any change happening around them. These average performers will do just enough to get by, and won’t show initiative for anything else.
- The Panic Zone: People in this zone feel anxious, nervous, frazzled, and overwhelmed. They care a lot – and maybe a bit too much. They are ambitious and take on a lot.
- The Stretch Zone: People in this zone are excited (but not overexcited), enthusiastic, and ambitious; they have new goals, ideas, and strategies. They care a lot and want to do things differently. These are probably your top performers.
These zones are fluid and people change from one to another. As a manager, understanding how to coach people in these zones will guide you toward changing behaviors.
Coaching in the Dead Zone
This zone is dangerous because people who no longer care are resistant to trying anything new – they are very close to leaving the organization. When coaching them, find out what got them into this zone – it could be for personal or professional reasons, or both. Then have that tough talk with them. Ask them if they think they are in the right role; you may want to encourage them to move into a different role or department.
Coaching in the Comfort Zone
Salespeople who have been part of the old sales regimen may fall into this comfort zone. They are low-risk about adopting new ideas and they’re stuck. But they can be coached, because they really care. When you coach someone in the Comfort Zone, you must include strategies that shake them up and change their routine, their territory, their product responsibilities – or perhaps their vertical. You might try putting them on a new project to manage, giving them the opportunity for recognition and reward.
Coaching in the Panic Zone
These people can be new hires who have finally realized what is expected of them and are running scared; or they may be overachieving senior team members with low self-esteem who panic at the end of the month to hit their numbers. Help them understand that panic isn’t the answer, and help them separate things that really need their attention from those that can wait. Be gentle. The last thing they need is pressure from you – they are putting enough pressure on themselves. Prioritize with them. Help them slow down, sort through, and organize what’s in front of them.
We wish all our team members could be in the Stretch Zone. Nonetheless, coaching someone in this zone is delicate – you don’t want to kill their spirit, just keep them on task. Coach them to stay focused, enthusiastic, and ambitious, but keep them in check.
What percentage of your team is in each zone? Ideally, you want your team balanced in all zones. But – depending on your team structure, their seniority, and the time of the sales quarter – your team is likely to be heavy in one zone.
For more on this topic, come to the Sales 2.0 Conference in San Francisco on July 18 and 19, 2016, and hear Josiane Feigon present “Creating Change: What’s It Going to Take for My Sales Teams to Start Selling?”