We’re almost halfway through the year, a good time to evaluate what’s working or not working in your sales organization. One of the first things to evaluate are the performances of your sales team members.
CEO’s and sales managers: How many of your salespeople should remain on your sales bus?
When conducting our sales management courses, I often ask, “How many of you have held onto poor performers for too long?” Each time, almost 100 percent of the participants raise their hand! Now, why do hard-charging, hard-working CEOs and sales managers hang on to poor performers for too long? There are many reasons, but let’s examine one you might be overlooking.
Successful people are often hyper-responsible. They get things done and often have the trait of personal accountability. They don’t blame or make excuses. These are great traits, but without emotional self-awareness, they can lead to sales leaders retaining the wrong salespeople, ones that that need to get off your sales bus. It’s a classic case of where a strength becomes a weakness.
I have heard more than one hyper-responsible, super-accountable CEO or sales manager take responsibility for their salesperson’s poor performance. “I haven’t given him/her enough training. We are trying to break into a new market segment and that takes time.”
I listen patiently and then ask a few pointed questions to raise the sales leader’s self-awareness. Then we can begin to work on the right end of the sales problem.
- “How much sales training did you receive as a salesperson?” (“Little or none. I took charge of my own learning.”)
- “How long did it take you to build your territory or account base?” (“Not long, because I worked like crazy to make it happen.”)
CEOs and sales managers: You can’t be more committed to success than your salesperson.
Set aside your wonderful traits of responsibility and accountability, and apply the EQ skills of self-awareness and reality testing. Look at the situation for what it is, not what you’d like it to be.
Dr. Henry Cloud, author of “Necessary Endings,” offers great advice on this topic of letting go. He shares the difference between a foolish person and wise one. And for this conversation, I added the word sales to Dr. Cloud’s advice.
- Wise salespeople take in feedback and adjust accordingly.
- Foolish salespeople get defensive when receiving feedback and immediately come back to you with a reason why “it” is not their fault.
- Wise salespeople own their performance, problems and issues without excuses or blame.
- Foolish salespeople immediately shift the blame to you and somehow make it your fault.
- Wise salespeople appreciate the feedback and it strengthens the work relationship.
- Foolish salespeople have little awareness or concern for the frustration they cause, thus take no action to correct their behaviors.
CEO’s and sales managers: Are you trying to coach a wise salesperson or a foolish salesperson?
If you have a foolish salesperson on your sales team, stop talking. Stop giving feedback. They can’t and/or won’t hear it. Time to give them a ticket to their next destination named, “I’m not changing.”
It’s halfway through the year. Examine your sales bus. Is it filled with wise or foolish salespeople?