By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® -The Sales Training Company
In one of my previous blog articles, “How Effective Are DIY Sellers”, I referenced how difficult it is to become proficient at enterprise selling, especially when dealing with committee decisions. Sellers in organizations that have not defined a sales process are given wide latitude in how they attempt to achieve quota. When numbers are being made, sellers are left alone. When sellers start to get further away from year to date against quota, managers point the spotlight in their direction.
If selling without a sales process is difficult, managing a group of sellers is exponentially more challenging. In my career, I’m hard pressed to think of a sales manager that I’d like to mentor one of my children if they started a sales career. My first manager just scared me into doing a quantity of work. He told me to call high, stay high, not lead with product, sell value, etc. without actually telling me HOW to do these things.
After the first year, he and every other sales manager I reported to just left me alone. While I enjoyed not having their spotlight on me, had they been able to assess and develop my skills I would have been a better salesperson.
Sellers by nature want to succeed. In evaluating different skills for sellers, a manager should consider the two (2) reasons performance may lag in a particular area. The two possible (and non-exclusive) reasons for poor performance are:
1. The seller will not make the effort to improve. This situation is clearly one that calls for motivation. A manager must attempt to motivate the person (apparently the desire for commission and job security aren’t sufficient) to try to improve.
2. The seller cannot improve which means there is a skill deficiency. In such cases, telling sellers what to do (as my first manager did) without showing or explaining them how to do the task will not help remedy the issue.
Many sales managers got promoted on the strength of being superior individual contributors. They sell intuitively and therefore have trouble mentoring and coaching sellers that struggle. While many managers get frustrated, if a person is trying but lacks the skill or skills necessary to succeed, ultimately the failure is the fault of the sales manager.