One of the biggest challenges sales leaders face when taking on the role of leading and developing a team is figuring out how to transfer the skills, habits and attitudes that made them successful.
I’m pretty sure all of us that are in or have been in sales management have made the following mistakes:
- We tell more than we ask when a salesperson brings us a selling challenge.
- We jump in to close the big deals, the tougher deals.
- We don’t invest enough time reinforcing the sales skills, habits and attitudes.
There isn’t one answer as to why we make these mistakes, however, these are some common reasons I’ve found when examining my own behavior and coaching other sales leaders.
Tell versus asking. Well, this mistake is actually pretty simple to understand.
Telling is just easier!
Sales leaders simply repeat what they have learned in their years as a successful individual contributor.
Asking questions is more difficult. You have to slow down and think.
A sales manager has to be curious as to the root cause of a sales challenge.
- Is a salesperson not connecting with the right decision makers due to lack of confidence or competence?
- Is a salesperson not asking enough questions because they don’t know the questions to ask or because he’s fearful of getting stumped by the answer delivered from a prospect.
- Is a salesperson not converting leads to discovery conversations because of poor sales messaging or poor delivery of the sales message?
People believe their own data.
Stop rescuing, stop telling and start asking questions.
Jumping in to close the deal. This non-productive and non-scaling sales management behavior is often due to good old-fashioned fear.
If these big deals don’t close, you fear you’ll miss quarterly numbers.
If your sales team doesn’t achieve quota, you fear you’ll be judged by your boss.
Take a walk down memory lane to decrease the fear. Someone, somewhere, at some time allowed you to close a big deal. Chances are you were given that opportunity before you were ready.
Maybe you failed and didn’t close the big deal.
Hopefully, your sales manager debriefed the sales meeting with you and helped you learn the valuable lessons from that failure. That new knowledge set you up for success in your next “big deal'' meeting.
Stop rescuing your sales team because of fear. Give your sales team the same gift you were given. The gift of trying, succeeding or failing.
Limited reinforcement of skills. The late Joan Rivers used to say, “Can we talk?” The translation behind this question was: Can we get beyond all this superficial conversation?
It’s easy to start something. It’s not always easy to finish.
It’s easy to teach selling skills, however, not so easy to reinforce those skills.
Can we talk?
Role plays, drill skills, pre-briefing and post-briefing calls can get tedious. Secretly you might be thinking, “Why can’t my sales team just master these skills? Why do we have to revisit this topic?”
The reality is that repetition and practice are the keys to mastery. Repetition is saying and doing something over and over and over again. And again.
It's hard work.
It takes focus.
It takes commitment.
The sales managers that take the time to reinforce selling skills grow their sales teams’ selling skills. They transfer the knowledge, skills and habits that made them a success so they get to hang up the “rescue sales management” hat.
They put on the “chief sales revenue” hat. It’s when you are no longer having to rescue and close every deal.
Are you the chief revenue officer or chief rescue officer?