Support your team
One of the most valuable lessons I learned in leadership through my years as a Director of Sales for a large CCRC was this: My team didn’t work for me, I worked for them.
I had a job because they needed a true leader, not just a manager. They needed someone to guide and support them in their efforts to sell the community.
My job was simple. Remove obstacles that stood in the way of the success of the sales team. Easy. Facilitate the means, whatever necessary and at my disposal, to enable my team to become amazing sales people. Whether that meant going to senior leadership to promote policy change, or implement a new tool to increase their effectiveness, it was my responsibility to support the team and make these things happen.
Give them the tools and Get out of their way
Once I provided the tools to the team to be effective, I needed to step aside and let them do their job. Nobody was going to be efficient or effective if I hovered over their every move, micro-managing each interaction.
I did still measure metrics, and check productivity through our CRM dashboards. I read notes on prospect interactions when potential sales appeared to stall out of nowhere. I had conversations to coach my people to more effective interactions with prospects.
But I did let them do their job, the way they wanted to do it. The way I would have wanted to do it had I been in their role. For that I was recognized as a leader, not a manager.
If you want to truly lead a team, don’t manage their every minute at the office.
Successful sales people need to put their personality into their job. It makes them genuine, authentic, and allows them to build relationships with their prospects.
Don’t correct them every time they say something differently than you. As long as the messaging is clear, misinformation isn’t being given to the customer, mistakes aren’t being made and sales are, leave them alone.
You hired them for their talent, not to clone yourself. Let them be themselves. Allow them to work at their own pace, and support their strengths and what they bring to the table for the entire team.
Set Clear Expectations
Setting clear expectations is one of the best ways not to fall into the micro-management trap. When clear expectations are established, there’s no need to hover over someone to find out if they’re doing what you want.
They will, or they won’t. That’s up to them. The result of whether they do or don’t drives your conversations and coaching.
Expectations also need to be reasonable. If it’s unrealistic to ask your sales person to make 50 customer connects in a day, then don’t expect it. It will only breed discontent and low morale.
People who can’t achieve realistic goals will become unhappy and may even seek employment where they can feel the joy of accomplishment. Who wants to work at a place where they are set up to fail?
If you want to know what metrics to expect, take a week and do their job. You’ll soon learn what can and cannot be accomplished. Ever watch the show “Undercover Boss?” Real CEO’s working in the trenches, seeking ways to improve their companies. It is always an eye opening experience.
In the end, leading a team is about trust. Trust that they will achieve their goals. Trust they will meet the expectations you’ve set. Trust that when you give them the tools to be amazing sales people, they will excel in their work.
However, that trust goes both ways. Your team needs to trust you. Trust that you’ve got their back. Trust that you’ll stick up for them and stand beside them when they’re working their hardest, doing everything you’ve asked, and the results for some reason aren’t there. Trust that you’ll work with them to find solutions to challenges they face. Trust that you’ll step back and let them be themselves and won’t manage their every move. Trust that they mean more as people to you than the numbers they produce.
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