LEADERSHIP SERIES: Research suggests that Sales Leadership is the difference maker between good performance and superior performance. And how sales leaders embrace five essential roles is critical to the success of their teams. We hope you find this series of short informal discussions around sales leadership useful and thought-provoking.
Why the Difference between Helping Your Sales Team and Controlling Them Is Also the Difference between Growing Your Revenue and Just Treading Water
We often like to say that sales managers are actually misnamed. That’s because, in most sales departments, what’s needed isn’t necessarily someone to manage every step of the sales process, or look over the numbers every day, and certainly not to add more pressure on top of the sales team… what’s needed is a leader who can be the spark to higher performance.
As part of that role, you’ll need to learn to help your sales people, not control them. Understanding that, and learning to do it effectively, is a fine line. Certainly there are going to be times when you’re going to need to step in and help out with the sale or customer service problems, or to correct the behavior with one of your salespeople. But most of the time, you want to resist the urge to seize control and instead empower your salespeople to become responsible for creating their own success, and accountable for their results either way.
This isn’t just a feel-good piece of advice; it’s the only way you’ll ever get your team moving in the right direction.
Think about it this way: if you are closely supervising your sales team, they won’t just stop growing, they will become dependent on you. And so, their performance is eventually going to be limited to the amount of time and energy you are able to spend watching over them. That might be more than you would think, at first, but over time you can be sure that stress and other commitments will prevent you from being there during every important sale or negotiation. What’s going to happen then?
On the contrary, when you become patient enough, and trusting enough, to let your sales staff to handle their own day-to-day problems, give you feedback on their progress, and learn lessons along the way, you slowly start to develop a set of individuals who don’t need you to hold their hand at every step of the process. Over time, your focus shifts from “putting out fires” to developing better strategic visions, training to fix any rough spots in their execution, and otherwise prepare for a better future, instead of dwelling on the problems of the moment.
The more you can HELP your sales team, the better and stronger they will become. If you get stuck in the rut of trying to control them, your producers are never going to be able to do more than tread water. But if you invest the time and energy needed to let them GROW, they’ll take your territory and career right along with them.
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