#1 Mistake Sales Managers Make
WARNING! What you are about to read could be contrary to your current beliefs.
It is the first sales meeting of the month. The team has settled in, waiting on the management team to come in (why are they always late?) to conduct another “raw-raw” session to pump us up. By the way, they really should stop quoting Tony Robbins and acting like they came up with that inspirational quote all on their own. In addition to the motivational seminar we are about to receive, we will get to witness Bobby (the greatest salesman in the world) receive his 50th consecutive Salesman of the Month award. Don’t get me wrong, Bobby is a nice guy and very good at what he does. However, the management team seems to think he hung the moon, if you know what I mean. Don’t they realize that the rest of us work just as hard and care just as much? If they spent as much time helping us as they do Bobby, then we might have a chance at knocking him off of his “high-horse”. Oh well, the band has started playing so I guess the show is about to begin! Yours truly, The Average Sales Person
Sound familiar? Unfortunately, this is the sentiment for all too many sales professionals today. Now, I can hear my sales manager friends already; “If they want to get our attention, then they need to stop whining and just perform”. Look, I get it. Your top performers are an important part of your team. As managers we work hard to acquire or develop those top performers. By all means, we should make sure that they are happy and well compensated for their efforts. The problem is, we as managers think that "we" are solely responsible for "their" success. Though you may have role in it, I can assure you it is a minuscule one at best. The truth is, your top performers will produce with or without you!
Therefore, let me challenge your mindset on this matter. If you buy into the “Pareto Principle”, which states that 80% of your team’s production will come from the top 20% of your people, then it would only make sense to spend 80% of your time with the 20%. The truth is, the Top 20% don’t need you to hold their hand. They are professionals and will produce with little assistance from you. If they are going to produce anyway, wouldn’t it make sense to focus your leadership efforts in developing and increasing the production of the 60%? Yes, I said 60%! Let me explain.
Having spent 20 years leading sales teams, it has been my experience that you can break down the production on any sales team the following way.
The Top 20% - The ones who consistently produce.
The Middle 60% - The ones who desire to be in the Top 20%, but lack the skills.
The Bottom 20% - The ones who will never produce and will not be there long anyway.
The challenge lies in you spending your time developing the middle 60% to produce more. This is the majority of your sales team and their ceiling for increased production is much higher than the Top 20%. Think about it this way. If you focused on increasing the production of the middle 60% by just 10%, how much more would that increase your total team production? How much more production would you have to get out of the Top 20% to match that increase? By the way, depending on the size of your team, that could be the difference between good and great.
As a sales manager, your sole responsibility is to produce results through your team. Leadership is the ability to influence those on your team to do more, be more and produce more. You were given this leadership role, because someone believed that you had the ability to do just that. Stop wasting your time coddling your superstar and get busy helping those on your team who have the desire to be great.
What do you think? Have I lost my mind?
Your Friend, Bryan Caison