Today's post is by Michelle Vazzana, a partner at Vantage Point Performance, a global sales management training and development firm. Vazzana is also co-author of Cracking the Sales Management Code: The Secrets to Measuring and Managing Sales Performance. Vazzana has more than 28 years of successful sales and management experience.
Most salespeople know whether or not they’re taking care of the right tasks to be successful in their jobs. But sometimes it can be difficult to course correct, and their supervising sales manager may not always be in the best position to offer help. That leads to bad coaching sessions like the one in this video.
(Recognize anyone you know?)
Salespeople and their managers do a lot during the course of a day, but is all this work productive? Both Jane and Bob seem very busy, but are they doing the right things to improve sales performance? Let’s examine Jane and Bob’s modus operandi a little more closely to see what we can apply to your own performance as a salesperson or sales manager.
Jane is busy selling, but she knows something’s not quite right. She admits she’s not making the volume of sales calls her organization expects, but that’s not the worst part. The real tragedy is that she’s not going to hit her quota, and she doesn’t know what to do about it. She realizes that, if she continues to do what she’s already doing, the outcome will be the same.
Albert Einstein famously said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different outcome. Well, Jane is not insane – she’s just frustrated. She wants a different outcome, and she’s willing to behave differently. But, alas, she’s doesn’t know what to do to change her behavior. And, like most good salespeople we know, Jane wants to be coached. But, apparently, Bob isn’t available to help.
In his defense, Bob wants to coach Jane. Almost every sales manager we work with tells us that they wish they had more time to coach their reps. They know it’s important, and they know it’s impactful, but there’s all that other busywork that gets in the way. Reporting. Forecasting. Firefighting. All this urgent work somehow trumps the really important work.
Sales managers want to change, too. They know they need to do things differently to improve sales performance, but the day-to-day nitty gritty of their busy days and multiple demands get in their way. And no one is coming to their rescue, either, because sales managers’ bosses want those reports and forecasts. Sales managers are torn both ways. So how do we get the ‘Janes’ and ‘Bobs’ of the world a little bit of freedom to do what they really need to be doing? Surprisingly, the answer is actually quite simple.
Managers and their sellers need to prioritize their efforts. Managers and salespeople know the important steps to take, yet they don’t get around to doing them. But what if sales managers were to say, “You know what, the sales forecast can wait. My priority should be to coach my reps – or else the forecast won’t be achieved anyway.” And what if sellers were to say, “You know what, I’m not going to make 40 senseless calls this week… I’m going to make 20 really great sales calls.” Simple? Yes, but not simplistic. By creating lists of relevant tasks and then prioritizing them, both salespeople and sales managers will be vastly more successful and less stressed. Sales managers can be very helpful to their reps by starting off with coaching on this issue as a first step.
Again, most of us know whether we’re doing the right work to succeed, but there are often significant barriers to change. If we don’t change, we are – by Einstein’s definition – insane. So, Bobs and Janes… We need to end the insanity. Stop doing what you “have” to do, and start doing what you know you NEED to do. Only then will your outcomes change.