In the previous articles, we have defined some specific strategies and tactics that we have used, taught, and proven to work in many venues and many segments of financial service sales. Through these many and varied applications, it has been increasingly clear that systems, processes, and measurements alone will not, by themselves, work to significantly increase sales results. There must be “hands on” and continuous leadership that is both visible and active.
The process of evaluation and diagnosis, so essential to effective leadership of sales professionals, is the core interaction between manager and producer on which our system is based. As defined in earlier articles, joint calls, Hallway Accountability encounters, and sales meetings are the three basic components that comprise the ability to accurately measure the enhancement of skills in this diagnostic process.
Both manager and producer must see these interactions as beneficial to achieving their mutual goals; otherwise, meaningful communication leading to behavior change will not occur. Obviously, increased quantity and quality of sales is a mutual goal. Measurement leading to an ability to project future results is, likewise, a mutual goal but for different reasons. For the manager, it is needed to “manage up” by projecting the revenue required by upper management. To the producer, it helps to define progress toward goals. However, there can be a division between the two if an element of trust cannot be developed.
Likewise, time can be leveraged by both manager and producer if joint calls can promote a level of trust and honesty that leads to the ability to use Hallway Accountability sessions as the main method of interaction between the two. Thus, it should be clearly evident that activity and visibility is necessary to build honesty and maintain accountability.
Active involvement and a high degree of visibility will be diminished, and thereby trust and growth will be compromised unless the manager can perform these 4 very important tasks:
MODEL SKILLS – The producer legitimately expects that the manager should be able to do what he/she asks them to do. Look at the seven requisite skills defined in an earlier posting. Two of them are: 1) the ability to frame discovery questions; and 2) the ability to position solutions consistent with the needs of the prospect. The manager must master these skills, as well as all others involved in the sales process, so they can be modeled in a joint call. To not do so compromises the credibility of the manager.
SHOW ANALYTICAL ABILITY – Likewise, the manager must be able to observe the actions of the producer and accurately identify skill deficiencies. I once attended a basketball coach’s clinic and saw a retired professional player, George Lehman, put on a shooting clinic. As he taught the group of coaches, he shot baskets from multiple points on the court. To say he was uncanny in his ability to shoot would be a gross understatement. He hit about 95% of his shots. He then asked attendees to shoot and let him comment on their form and mechanics. One by one they shot and he would ask them to change a minor element of their mechanics. Each time, the percentage of successful shots began to increase. I was amazed at Lehman’s shooting skill, but even more impressed with his ability to see the minor errors in the mechanics of others and provide the antidote. A good manager possesses this skill.
EXHIBIT TRUE EMPATHY – Sales managers should not be detached from the ones they are mentoring. This means managers should understand not just the sales capabilities of their producers, but also understand them personally. Empathy really means to be able to see and feel a situation through the eyes of another. This connection diminishes the barriers that often prohibit the development of trust and honesty between manager and producer.
BE WILLING TO BE VULNERABLE – An extension of the element of empathy is the willingness on the part of the manager, and producer, to be vulnerable. But the willingness must begin with the manager. This will knock down barriers and open up communication. Managers don’t “know it all.” Letting the sales person know this is very important. But don’t overdo it. Vulnerability cannot overshadow the ability to exhibit the skills necessary to be a true professional.
Armed with these four tools, managers will want to be visible and active because they will see results and build relationships with those they mentor. They will, thereby, make significant progress toward the desired position of true leaders.
Which of these do you feel you are strong in applying and which do you feel are weaknesses? Let us know how we can help you reach your full potential as a sales leader. Call or email us…we’d be pleased to discuss these proven tactics in which we believe so strongly.