Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Growing a Successful Sales Team – What Are Your Cultural Requirements?

Tags: sales force development, sales recruitment, teamwork coaching, sales skill assessment

When a new president of a company takes over a company or when a new sales manager takes over a sales team, you can imagine what happens, right? There were already people there as a result of the previous administration(s).  Those people, inherited by the new leader, chose to stay based on the previous leadership and characteristics of that leadership. (HBR book on leadership).

2 QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN “INHERITING” A SALES TEAM

Now, what happens when new leadership “inherits” and takes over a previously established sales team? Chaos, push back, dissension and political jockeying - sound familiar? I imagine it does, but that isn’t the point I want to make now. The point I wasnt to address here is that, when you find yourself in this situation, there are two questions that need to be immediately asked and answered. 

  1. What happens to productivity, growth and stability when there is a lack of teamwork?
  2. How do you fix it?

 

IGNORING EXECUTIVE ORDERS… WHAT?!?! 

Every POTUS comes into the office hoping to make a significant positive contribution to our country and citizenry.  No one takes the oath of office with the intent of doing harm or “screwing it up”.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it doesn't happen and no President evert goes unscathed or un-criticized by those who didn’t vote for him/her (Hillary would have made that statement end with her!). 

Trump’s Executive Orders to restrict immigration from certain countries and the resulting backlash puzzles me.  Not because of the opposing views on the executive order but because of my lack of understanding of how our federal and state governments work and/or don't work together.  I had no idea that a judge in Washington could weigh in on such a matter as an executive order and declare that the state of Washington could ignore not just this executive order, but any executive order. 

Presidents and number of executive orders in my lifetime:

 exec-orders.png

Since I became an eligible voter, I had not previously heard of any judge at any time weighing in on executive orders.  I admit that I may have missed them. And so, what I’m really admitting to is that I don’t know how the whole thing works.  What I do know is that, for any organization to win more than it loses, it needs people that have a strong sense of teamwork who are willing to sacrifice their own personal agendas for the good of the team.

Teams work or don’t work, win or don't win based on the following:

  • Strategy
  • Effort
  • Execution
  • Performance Management
  • Motivation
  • Coaching
  • Talent Acquisition

 
SUCCESS REQUIRES EVERYONE’S SUPPORT

In order for a team to succeed, the strategy for the company has to be supported by the entire company.  There has to be alignment and support!  The middle manager in Washington cannot decide to not put forth the effort or choose to not execute the strategy simply because they disagree with the strategy.  If that’s the case, then that middle manager can no longer be part of the team.

To avoid this type of problem, the company's hiring strategy has to consider cultural fit.  In the case of government, teams and companies, one of the components of cultural fit to be considered is the Team Player.

THE MOST IMPORTANT QUALITY OF A TEAM PLAYER

A team player is one that sacrifices their personal agenda for the betterment of the team.  They are willing to do everything possible (assuming legal, ethical and moral standards) to assist the team in winning.

Linda and I recently attended the Sycamore Athletic Boosters Hall of Fame Induction dinner.  Our friend, John Traub, was one of the inductees.  John Traub, a former wrestler and current teacher’s aide at Sycamore High School, holds several school records in wrestling, has coached state champions there and was instrumental in establishing the youth wrestling program in our community. 

Also, on the list of inductees, was Bailey Su.

While at Sycamore, Bailey Su played tennis and lacrosse. She went on to college at Northwestern where she played on the 3 time NCAA National Championship team.  She recalled that her coach taught her about teamwork, the value of the team and how you have to sacrifice your own interests for the benefit of the team. She shared a story about a time when she and a team mate decided to donate blood. This left them tired and lethargic for practice. When their coach questioned them about this, he became enraged at their selfishness.

I know this sounds strange and I assure you that everyone in the audience was uncomfortable with the story about the coach, but Bailey insisted that it was a very strong lesson for her. She indicated that she could have accomplished the same thing another way without doing harm to the performance and goals of the team.

SCREEN FOR SKILL AND WILL

Do you have players who think that way… or do you have people on your team who are all about themselves and only think about their own needs?  Do you look for the team mentality when you are interviewing candidates? What else are you looking for to make sure there is a fit?  How well do you screen for those soft, emotional intelligence, cultural characteristics and behaviors that may cause you to think 6 months down the road that this wasn’t a great hire because of fit?

I recently wrote an article about making sure you always assess candidates for “skill and will” before you start the interview process.  That step is just that – a step.  And even that step must be put into perspective.  You need to make sure you have a scorecard that clearly spells out what it takes to be a successful team player IN YOUR ORGANIZATON, not just on how to be a successful sales person.  That scorecard must include “team player”.

Overcoming the Sales Goal Deficit – The Tom Brady Version of Sales Management

Tags: sales performance coaching, how increase sales, responsibilities of sales manager, teamwork coaching

Super Bowl LI was something special to watch - unless you are a Falcons fan and then it was a disaster.  You could see it happen right before your eyes. The Patriots struggled in the first quarter while the Falcons had complete control of every aspect of the game.  And then… it happened.

Depending on what expert you listen to, there are a variety of plays in the game that you could point to and declare, “That was the turning point!” Even though I played a lot of football (13 years), coached a lot of football (6 years) and watched a lot of football (50+ years), I’m no expert – but I believe the play below was the turning point in the game.  (Click to view on Youtube.)

Falcons-Patriots-youtube.png

In my opinion, it happened in the third quarter.  As you can see in the upper left hand corner of the picture, it’s 3rd and 8 with 4:49 left in the quarter and the Patriots are down 28-3.  So far in the game, they hadn’t had much success at all.  In their five possessions in the first half, they had punted 3 times and had 2 turnovers.  On this play, with no one open to throw to, Brady did something he rarely does – he ran with the ball.

2016

New England Patriots

12

28

2.3

64

2.3

5.3

0

15

10

35.7

0

0

1

Brady’s record shows that he had only run with the ball 28 times in 12 games.  That’s a mere 2.3 rushes per game with a total of only 5.3 yards per game.  His longest run in 15 years accounted for nearly 25% of the total yards he gained the entire season… and he fumbled once.  If you were going to run the ball to gain 8 yards for a critical 1st down, the last guy you would call on to do that would be Tom Brady. If, however, the game is on the line and you needed to call on someone that wants the ball when the game is on the line - and you want a guy that will get the job done again as he has in the past - then you would call on Tom Brady.

Why Tom Brady?  Well, in the words of Beth Mooney, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Key Bank, it boils down to this – The Shadow of the Leader.

The jobs of sales management (video) are many, but when it comes down to it, the primary roles fall into three categories:

  • Lead for Results
  • Manage Activities
  • Coach Behaviors

These roles make up the cornerstone, so to speak, in our Sales Managed Environment® Certification program.  Everything that you do or need to be doing day in and day out as a manager should be an activity that supports one of these three contributing factors to sales growth.

  • Lead for Results – This requires that your vision for your team supports the overall vision of the organization, but it is also a vison that your people support and are motivated by. Yes, we know by using the Objective Management Group Sales Force Evaluation that close to 70% of all sales people are motivated internally, but that internal motivation is often tied to the place where they work.  They want to feel like the work they do is meaningful. They want to be recognized for their accomplishments. They want to feel that they are making progress personally and professionally. They rely on work to make their personal dreams come true. They need someone – you – to lead them to places they don’t think are possible and to lead them when the odds seem to be against them.  (Down 25 points with 20 minutes left in the game.  No team in the Super Bowl Championship has ever overcome even a 10-point deficit!)
  • Manage Activities – These activities get the results you want. Everything starts with belief and belief controls your activities.  At half time, according to Tom, the discussion was not about “What do we do now?”  The discussion was about “This is what we’ve done.”:
    • We’ve moved the ball.
    • We’ve controlled the clock.
    • We’ve allowed them to move the ball the full length of the field for a touchdown.

We’ve been doing a lot of things right.  And we’ve made a couple of mistakes, but it isn’t like they are stopping us or completely running over us.  Let’s stay the course, do what we do best, control what we can control and - when the time comes - we’ll make the plays we need to win.

  • Coach Behaviors – There wasn’t a whole lot of “in-the-moment” coaching going on during the game. Yes, there were a couple of situations where Tom made a motion for a receiver to break his route and run deep and then Tom delivered the ball for a long gain. Yes, there were adjustments made to blocking schemes and defensive fronts, but those adjustments were easy to execute because of all the practice prior to the game.  Recently, I was listening to a talk radio show where they were discussing how the Patriots go about practicing pass patterns for when Brady has to scramble out of the pocket. These aren’t plays that just happen by accident.  They are due to hours of specific practice where the offensive team run through scenarios they might encounter in a game.  And they have to learn those plays on the practice field so that, in a real game when the lights are on and everyone is watching, they can execute them and make them look “easy”.  That's what Tom Brady and Bill Belichick demand and that is why the team performed so well under pressure to overcome a historic deficit and win Super Bowl LI.

Additional Resources:

Are You Wasting Sales Training Dollars?

Do Your Sales Growth Strategies Exceed The Limits of Your Sales Team?

Are You Drafting The Right People For The Right Roles?