Your credibility as a sales leader is based on knowing what’s ACTUALLY HAPPENING on your floor. Sales floors are breeding grounds for urban myths, legends, and tales passed down via oral tradition. They are called “belief systems”. A leader that speaks in front of a team without understand these belief system will immediately viewed with skepticism by their team.
Your job is to get good at digging, and figure out what’s really happening and why (uncover the belief system your team is operating under). That way you can guide your sales team in the right direction rather than allowing group think take over ( urban myths, legends, etc).
How do you do this?
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1) Build trust
Build trust with your reps and managers. You never want to be the emperor with no clothes, so don’t make your team feel like they can’t tell you what’s going on. If a rep or manager identifies something that’s not working, don’t shoot the messenger. Invite them to join in on the problem solving.
Ex. Manager points out the fact that very few managers are enforcing daily call targets. Rather than getting upset, ask questions, find out why they are struggling to enforce these standards. Ask them why they don’t believe the standards are important, you may learn something.
Don’t believe what you’re told, believe what you observe in person. Watch what your best sales people are doing to be successful. Not only do you need to observe with your own eyes what they do when they are running demo’s, but you need to watch their process all the way up until the close. How are they prospecting, how are they using the CRM to organize their business, how are they cold calling or using referrals to avoid the low returns of cold calling.
Then do the same with your managers. Shadow 1:1s , shadow interviews, go to team events, watch them coach reps. You can only get an accurate assessment of their skill level and the challenges they face by being out there with them. At each point in the process ask people why they are doing what they are doing, try to get to the bottom of things, and you’ll find the belief system.
Ex. No one on the floor is hitting the target number of “contracts signed” in a month. Why? They all believe that they key is getting a big deal, rather than getting the target amount of smaller deals. If you don’t dig in as the leader and uncover this belief, your initiatives won’t address the why behind the work the sale team is doing.
3) Measurement / Metrics
Observation only uncovers s portion of what’s ACTUALLY HAPPENING on the floor ( call it 30%). Metrics can bring another 30% of the picture into focus.
Depending on the structure of your sales team, you should be looking at prospecting numbers (i.e. the number of decision maker connects they are getting), how well those connects are converting into demos, and lastly how many demos are being done and converted into closes. Figure out if these numbers are accurate, and figure out what your baseline averages are across the floor. This will help you paint a picture of what’s happening, and from there you can start to improve things.
Knowing what’s ACTUALLY HAPPENING on the floor, understanding the belief systems that dictate your teams behaviors is the starting point for making change. If you don’t start off on the right foot, none of your initiatives will be effective, and the team won’t follow.