I sometimes think that most of us go through life oblivious to impact of our actions. I’m not talking about the minor stuff like how some people change lanes on a motorway without indicating and how that impacts other road users (though it really does bug me when thoughtless people do that). I’m talking about Sales Managers and General Managers who expect their team to produce outstanding sales results but don’t do any of the things necessary to improve their performance. These selfish managers have extraordinary expectations for their sales team but don’t provide them with the commitment, support and guidance that they need to reach those levels of success.
It’s like being a coach and telling a runner to run the 100 metres in 10 seconds without working with him and showing him exactly what he has to do to achieve this feet. Percy Cerutty, the legendary Australian distance running coach who coached the great Herb Elliott to Gold in the 1500 metres at the 1960 Rome Olympics, helped England’s John Landy, the first man to break the 4 minute mile and coached Betty Cuthbert to Gold in 1964, was a man who knew that to get great results requires great effort and a totally different way of thinking.
I remember as a young boy seeing film of Percy training some of Australia’s most outstanding young runner in the sand dunes of Portsea just south of Melbourne. In the heat of summer he would have them running for hours up and down the sand dunes until their legs couldn’t carry them anymore. Not only that but at 60 years of age he was doing the training with them. he pushed them, encouraged them and coerced them into giving performances way outside of their normal expectations. He knew they were capable of more and did whatever it took to bring those performances out of his team of athletes with outstanding results. This was the golden era of Australian athletics. Where are the sales managers with the commitment of Percy Cerutty? Where are the Sales Leaders that are building the Champion Teams of salespeople.
Well, would you believe I’ve found one!
I had a coaching call this morning with Joe (not his real name but this guy is absolutely real). Joe’s been a part of my Sales Management Training Program for the past few months and I’ve also been working with him and his sales team since September last year. In the beginning, Joe had the same problem I see with most sales managers, they are so busy doing their own thing, having a large number of major clients, trying to run sales meetings which offer little to the team and doing all of the stuff that sales managers do that they had little time for their team. The funny thing is that they are so busy doing this stuff that they can’t see the damage that they are doing to their teams. Joe was one of the lucky ones who has seen the light and realised that he was not being the sales manager he wanted to be and realised that he had to change.
Joe had most of the top performing accounts (because only he was good enough to handle them….I get so angry with this attitude), he set budgets with stretch targets but never coached his team on how to achieve them and he accepted the excuses that his team gave him for not hitting targets. After completing the first half of his sales management course, Joe has transformed not only himself and his behaviour but that of his sales team. Instead of hanging onto the legacy accounts he has always taken care of, he has transitioned them over to different team members and watched as the new energy has generated new business with these companies and even more opportunities. Joe now spends between 1 and 2 days a week on the road with his salespeople, pre-call strategizing, doing joint calls and post call debriefing. He has become comfortable simply being an observer on a sales call and not jumping in to “Save it” if things start running off the rails. He’s becoming an expert sales coach who knows how to ask questions, challenge and mentor. He now can see where his teams strengths and weaknesses are, what motivates each of them and how to get the best out of each of them through effective call planning and strategizing. The difference it has made is incredible.
When I spoke with him this morning he relayed a story to me about hitting his stretch sales target in January. Joe told me that they hit their actual sales budget in January after 3 weeks, which was 15% growth on last year. They then went for their stretch target which was a further 5% but they hit that with 3 days to go in January, so rather than taking the foot off the peddle, he spoke to his team and set a 3 day target of £50,000 in sales which they hit as well. The team are pumped, they want to schedule Joe whenever possible to join them on sales calls, the salesmen run their own strategy sessions with each other before major sales calls and they all spend Thursday morning in the office cold calling as a team with amazing results; 4 of them on the phones and 14 new, qualified appointments in a morning.
This is a company transformed because the sales manager realised it wasn’t ‘All About Him’. He stopped trying to be a salesman and started being the sales manager he always wanted to be. Is it about time you got over yourself and started to focus all of your effort on your team?