As noted in a previous post, it’s important to recognize that the culture of any given enterprise is a reflection of its leadership, and that the sales force tends to mirror that culture when interacting with customers and prospects.
Consequently, as sales managers or organizational leaders we have a profound impact on how sales people interact with the marketplace each day. Consider that both the direct and implied messages they convey to others are, to a great degree, based upon the impressions they have of our business philosophy and our day-to-day behavior — ranging from how we manage and treat the team to how we talk about and treat customers.
As organizational leaders, here are seven things we can do to positively support, lead and impact the selling process:
- Know our customers and maintain an understanding of their true interests, needs and priorities, taking each into account when setting policies and procedures. This alignment will send a strong message to the sales people that we are, in fact, a customer-centric organization — we care!
- Maintain consistent two-way communication with the sales force, keeping them well-informed with respect to the organization’s customer-centric philosophy, and encouraging them to deliver or reaffirm that message in the marketplace. As summarized by a recent American Management Association article, “Leaders must develop and communicate a compelling vision that inspires people.”
- Provide regular feedback — it is also vital, the AMA states, both motivational and developmental. People need to know when they’ve done a good job and when there is room to improve.
- Sell to the sales force — make sure they understand that the job can be done and that you and the organization have faith in their ability to do it; make sure they understand that the grass is, in fact, not greener “across the street,” and that there is a secure future for them if they work hard to earn it.
- Create and implement a formalized sales management / performance management system that consistently and fairly inspects what it expects, and holds the sales force accountable for activity as well as results.
- Recognize and reward desired behaviors and success as part of a formalized plan plan to engage and motivate the team, and to retain good performers. If the team is exceeding expectations, be sure to share in their celebration as opposed to intimating that the quotas might be too low.
- Similarly, if the sales force is not enjoying high-levels of success or is struggling to meet expectations, provide solutions and support — build upon strengths versus focus on weaknesses. A constructive approach can significantly impact their success, while a more critical or negative approach tends to promote continued failure.