Sales Management – 5 Tips That Will Create Inspired Performance


Sales Management – 5 Tips That Will Create Inspired Performance

Dr. Paul Hersey said that “Effective leadership is not ‘different strokes for different folks.’ It’s different strokes for the same folks, depending on their level of readiness for specific tasks.” Have you ever heard a sales manager say something like, “Well this is how I manage and that’s the way it is”? Sometimes, the good intention of working harder, not smarter, has the unintended consequence for managers of their team not meeting goals or at least not maximizing the potential they have to succeed.

The challenge with this line of thinking is that one-size-fits-all management fits no one well and everyone poorly. If a salesperson is great at greeting and building rapport but needs work on probing questions, the style of management or influence needs to be different when addressing them as they are clearly two very distinct areas. When a salesperson, whether frontline or executive level, is treated with a one-way type of direction and is micromanaged for a task in which they already excel, it creates disdain and apathy for both the task and the manager.  A more effective approach is to define the salesperson’s current level of performance for every task of their job and then exert influence around that task with the leader behavior they need, not what they necessarily want.  Inspired performance (meaning that your team is committed and not just compliant), comes from understanding what your people need and providing it for them.

Here are five tips for defining the performance level of your salespeople and giving them what they need for specific tasks …

1.  Understand the task itself. What kinds of traits are needed and what is the process that will make this task successful?

2.  Define if the salesperson has the ability to do the task and if they are motivated to do it. Sometimes people have neither the ability nor the motivation to do a task. Take new salespeople for example, typically, they have great motivation but lack the ability to perform a task.  Others have the ability but just plain don’t want to do it and a superstar is likely to do the task incredibly well and will love doing it.  Each calls for a different management intervention.

3.  Once you know where a salesperson is with a certain task, define what they need from you. For example, a salesperson with very little ability is going to need a lot of direction – not yelling or condescending, just good, strong explanation and guidance.  The more ability they have, the less direction they need. Those with very low motivation, depending on how much ability they have, may need strong direction.  If they are highly skilled, just a chance to “vent” may be the answer; in which case, you as the manager become a “facilitator”, not a “dictator”.  In the case of a person who is really good at a task and enjoys doing it, they don’t need much of your time – just acknowledgement and an occasional “check-in”.

4.  Understand that as with all people, a salesperson’s performance may change over time due to a variety of factors, some personal and some professional. Just because they have done a great job in the past, it does not mean they are still performing the same task at the same high level.  If this is the case, analyze their new performance level and react accordingly.

5.  Practice your ability to analyze and diagnose the performance level of your team for various tasks; then work on adjusting your behavioral management style.  Your influence style should be based on the analysis of current need for a specific task.

Remember, if you are one of those managers who is of the belief that, “This is the way I manage and that’s it”, you will only maximize your potential 25% of the time.  Why not learn to understand what your sales team needs and then exceed beyond, best performance 100% of the time?
-Michael Stahl