How’s your relationship with your sales team?
Are they motivated by you, inspired by you to do their best? When you face them with a new challenge, do they grumble as they head out to “do our best”? Or do they feel excited by the opportunity and want to do their best because they respect you and appreciate that you’re their biggest champion?
How employees feel about their boss has a direct effect on how well they perform their jobs. After all, 83% of employees who leave a job aren’t firing their company, they’re firing their boss.
Being liked and respected doesn’t mean you have to be a pushover. Far from it. If you’re fair and willing to make the tough decisions that will help them succeed as a team, they’ll respect you even more for it.
So what can you do to motivate your team and earn their respect so that they’ll be willing to do (almost) anything for you?
Here are my top 20 tips for how to be a better sales leader, many of them based on what I’ve observed working with my clients. Most of them are not complicated or earth-moving, but when taken together, they add up to a powerful guide for sales managers.
- Learn to monitor and manage your emotions. Your emotional intelligence is directly correlated to your success in your job.
- Stop solving your reps’ problems. Ask questions, and don’t give them the answers. They’ll feel more trusted and empowered, and you’ll create salespeople who will take more risks, make better decisions and stop depending on you.
- Remember that everyone is tuned to the radio station WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Find out what each of your reps wants and help them to get it.
- Ask questions to uncover your reps’ hopes, their fears, and their vision for themselves and their work. You’ll be amazed at the answers you get.
- Invest in your team – time, rewards, training. Let them know you feel they’re worth the investment.
- Schedule regular coaching sessions to bring out the power in your salespeople. Don’t ignore your high performers, mistakenly thinking they don’t need coaching…they do. Twice a month is good.
- Don’t call your meetings ‘status updates’. Call them ‘coaching sessions’. One says much more about the dynamics of your relationship with your team than the other. You can do status updates by e-mail (and bore your staff silly if this is the only kind of meeting you have with them).
- The phone is a great medium for coaching; you don’t always have to talk face-to-face. The key to success is regular conversations.
- Be curious, but not judgmental during your conversations. Your salespeople will tell you more (yes…this is a good thing).
- Speak less. Listen more.
- Give regular, balanced, timely feedback. People want to know what they do well and where they can improve. Give feedback as information, not as criticism.
- Give your staff challenging goals and reward them generously.
- Wildly cheer the successes of your team to senior management. Your team will hear about it, and be motivated by it.
- Keep in mind that business is based on relationships. Take the time to build solid ones with your salespeople.
- Pay attention to spouses and partners at a business dinner or event. Show that you genuinely care about what’s important to your reps.
- Don’t hire prima donnas. They’re nothing but trouble.
- Hire slowly; fire quickly.
- Inspire trust and respect by doing what you say you will do.
- Remember that it’s human nature to want to connect. Be approachable and make it easy for people to connect with you.
- Practice gratitude.
With so many ways to inspire your team, how can you go wrong?