The Sales Manager’s Dilemma

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The direction from up above always seems to be MORE, MORE, MORE. More meetings set, more proposals, and of course more deals. This is fine on paper but on the front line things aren’t so simple. Sales people face a vast array of difficulties meeting metrics. The truth is that 99.999% of those are mental and be overcome. The assumption here is that you have properly hired and evaluated solid people who are indeed capable of performing at the level the company expects. So then how do you motivate your people to do what both you and the company know should be done without seeming like a micro-manager and demoralizing them? The answer is also simple but it takes work; you have to inspire them to do so.

Inspire them you ask? Yes, inspire while driving expectations without seeming like a drone or an overbearing hack. To do this I have laid out a few ways to accomplish this that are both tactical and applicable for you RIGHT NOW.

Tie the metrics to THEIR goals
This means you have to know what their goals are which means you have to conduct regular one on one’s with each of them. Asking them what motivates THEM and marching toward that goal individually will help immensely. This makes the issue real for them and creates ownership on their part.

Get in the trenches with them
All too often we as managers become complacent and don’t lead the way when it comes to finding deals. Remember, we are the experts (or should be). We often forget how difficult this part of the job is. Go out with your people and see what they see. You may find out that they are working things the wrong way or are taking a more difficult approach than they need to. There is nothing worse than a hard-working rep that is simply working the wrong way.

Set clear expectations
Every organization should have a salesperson expectation document. If your company doesn’t have one then create your own. Set forth what it takes to be successful in your organization so that they know what they need to do. Simply telling them to blindly follow some directive may work for some people but most want to know that there is a method to the madness. Expectations built from consideration and analysis of what has worked for others is a powerful tool.

Tough love
Finally, you may need to impart some tough love on your reps. If someone isn’t hitting their numbers ask them why. Give them the benefit of the doubt but try to understand what they are up against. You may find out that there is some personal issue they are dealing with that is keeping them from being productive. You may also find out there is a business reason you need to adjust for that is a roadblock. If neither of those is the case then you have to make sure to reiterate the need for consistent front-end work in order for them to meet THEIR goals. You may have to have candid conversations with them to get them back on track. Don’t be afraid of this. Sometimes, pushing and challenging your people is exactly what they need.

In conclusion, constant and straight-forward communication is the best tool we as managers have. The aforementioned coupled with constant interaction is the only way to ensure the success of your team. This is what truly inspires your people and will gain your respect with them and yield the results you both want and need. Stay resilient and focused and they will follow suit.