ACTG Sales Management Blog

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Leadership in Times of Change

Posted by Steve Jones on Thu, Aug 20, 2020

As a leader, have you ever wondered why your salespeople don't adapt to and follow the new guidelines you have established? Often, managers focus their energy on defining procedures and identifying expectations during times of change. However, they fail to understand the impact and personal needs of the employees that are responsible for following these new requirements. 

In today's blog, we discuss why it is so critical for leaders to understand the overall impact change has on employees and how to best get new policies in place with everyone on board. 

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“Due to the virus restrictions, we have had to institute many new procedures. Surprisingly, some of my best employees are struggling to adapt to them!”

“We had to shrink our sales team due to business performance. This required us to juggle some client assignments among the remaining staff. Some have jumped right in, but a few are resisting. We have been clear about why the business needs to make these changes. They should be happy they have kept their jobs, but you’d never know it.”

What’s going on? In the past, our team has risen to every challenge and met every new goal with excitement and enthusiasm. Our compensation is more than competitive. Our competition hasn’t introduced any new products or services that we can’t compete against. We were very clear on the new procedures and assignments, and our performance expectations are basically the same as they have always been.

What could be going on is that you and your managers have focused your energy on clearly defining new procedures and expectations but may not have spent enough time focusing on the personal needs of the employees. When things are changing, employees will often take a step back to understand how the changes affect them personally before they focus on how the changes will benefit the business. They need the time to understand what they need to do differently and to what extent their world is being changed.

They might be asking:

  • “Do these changes affect my work schedule, which will in turn affect my schedule outside of work?”
  • “Am I going to need to rely on or develop a skill I never really needed in the past? Do I feel confident in that new skill? Am I willing to put in the time and effort required to learn the new procedure?”
  • “Will my selling style match well with the new clients I have been assigned, or will I need to adjust? Will I be able to adjust? Do I want to adjust?”

When change happens in our lives, it is natural for us to resist at first, particularly if we thought things were going well before. If the status quo was comfortable for me, I would prefer to leave things as they were. Unconsciously (or maybe consciously), I am hoping that if I resist the change then it will go away. You will let me continue to operate in my comfort zone.

The mistake we make as managers is that we believe all we need to do is clearly explain what needs to be done and why. If we do that, everyone will see the need for the change and jump on board. However, as long as your people are in resistance mode, they are not ready to listen to your arguments on why the changes are good for the company. They are taking care of themselves first.

The next time you need to institute changes take a more balanced approach:

  1. Be clear about the need for the change and the long-term benefits of everyone successfully adopting the new procedures.
  2. Acknowledge that this is a change and seek to understand what concerns your employees may have about adapting to the changes. Be sincere in your understanding that change can be confusing, time-consuming, and scary. If you have the flexibility to accommodate an individual’s specific concerns, let them know that.
  3. Discuss what the employees need to get comfortable with the changes. Do they need more information? Do they need time to learn new procedures before they are implemented? They certainly will need your patience as they adjust, and your understanding if they are not initially skilled at the new behaviors.
  4. As a leader, you need to define the desired outcome. Allow your employees to participate in figuring out the best way to achieve that outcome. If you do this, you will find they will more quickly “own” the new procedures and behaviors.
  5. When your employees struggle with the new “rules of the game” – and they will – be forgiving at first and encourage them to keep working at it. Acknowledge the effort to change, and they will feel you appreciate that it isn’t easy.
  6. When you feel the majority of your folks have successfully transitioned to the new way, take some time to celebrate. Remind them how far they have come, thank them for their efforts, and revisit the benefits of making the changes. This will help them continue to move forward even when they have setbacks.

Change is hard. Change is uncomfortable. Given the choice, most people will choose to not change what they feel has been working for them. Don’t try to manage the change by focusing on processes, measurements, and results. Instead, try to lead them through the change by partnering with them and supporting them along the new path you have set for them.

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Topics: Sales Leadership, sales management success, managing sales teams, sales leadership development, increase sales, motivating salespeople

Leadership Development: How a Mentoring Approach Can Lead to Positive Outcomes & Increasing Sales

Posted by Patrick Kollmeier on Thu, Apr 23, 2020

Guest Blog Post from Gaia Hawkes

In this week's blog post, guest blogger Gaia Hawkes offers her insights into leadership development within sales organizations and explains how taking a mentoring approach can lead to positive outcomes and increasing sales.

In sales and sales coaching, the process of mentorship is crucial to passing on expertise and knowledge to more junior team members. It enables sales teams to drive growth and success, leading to increased performance and sales across the board.

In a previous article on growing a successful sales team by Tony Cole, he describes how certain weaknesses in your sales team can lead to dissent and chaos. For instance, prioritizing your own agenda and being a bad team player can impact the team’s overall success. To remedy this, leaders should act as mentors to improve and change their attitudes. Maryville University explains how a degree in organizational leadership can help you introduce positive change through superior employee training and collaboration.

Being a strong leader and mentor will help your team follow your lead when it comes to driving sales productivity. With that in mind, here are some ways in which developing a mentorship program can greatly benefit your organization.

Identifying strengths matters

If you don’t know where your team members excel, you’re not working with them to achieve their true potential. It may seem basic, but conducting personality tests conducive to learning your salespeople’s unique strengths can give you key insights moving forward.  For instance, if a particular salesperson excels in nurturing and providing for others, you can put them in a role as an onboarding companion for hiring better salespeople. 

In addition, you can find ways to help them use their empathy to work with clients.  Ensuring that everyone feels appreciated and valued will help your employees feel like they are a key member of the team. In the long run, they’ll be more willing to step up and take on greater responsibilities to help increase sales within your organization.

Why empathy matters

Because selling is a numbers-oriented business, sales leaders might put pressure on specific goals and money milestones within the organization. On the other hand, Kevin Kruse describes why successful sales leaders need to show that they care. He explains that apart from dealing with the tasks at hand, you should also take the time to get to know and interact with your team members.

Address them by name, greet them every morning, learn about their families, and ask about life outside of work. Sometimes, outside life gets in the way and affects productivity, but if you’re understanding and approachable, you can help your team members get over these road bumps more quickly.

Why feedback and recognition matter

Without assessing your team’s progress and providing regular opportunities for candid feedback, improvement will be a slow process. An Entrepreneur article on the art of mentorship explains that one-on-one time between a mentee and a mentor is crucial to adjust targets and modify goals if necessary.

Creating a well-designed plan involves identifying the issues at hand, setting realistic sales goals, and providing actionable steps to meet them. Growth can be a challenging process, but by giving recognition and praise where it’s due, you’ll keep your mentees motivated and energized to meet and exceed expectations.

Ultimately, mentorship programs not only steer team members to success, but sales mentors are also rewarded with the fulfilling experience of seeing their mentees succeed. In fact, a 2018 research study on Business News Daily found that 76% of respondents considered mentors important to their success. If you don’t already have one, it’s better late than never to start implementing a mentoring approach within your sales organizations.

Topics: Sales Leadership, Leadership Development, Leadership Skills, increase sales

How Do I Motivate My Salespeople?

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Dec 13, 2018

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Ineffective motivation of the sales team is not uncommon and it is the subject of one of the more frequent questions people ask me: “Tony, how do I keep my salespeople motivated?”  My first response is normally a question in return:  “Do you know what motivates your people?” 

The most common answer: “Well, uh, yeah, I think so.”  I cannot help myself when I ask, “Do you know or do you think you know?”  Their most common answer: “I think I know.”

With that in mind, how do you possibly motivate people when you just think you know what motivates them?

What we know about motivating salespeople is that it has changed over the years.  When we first started evaluating sales teams using the #1 Sales Evaluation Assessment – Objective Management Group Sales Evaluation and Impact Analysis – the findings told us that people were externally motivated.  Motivation was money and the things money can provide.  Today, however, we see a different set of results (Read this HBR article on motivating salespeople).

The current findings tell us that sales teams are highly motivated to succeed, but the source of motivation is internal rather than external.  They are motivated by a job well done. They want to be recognized for success and they are motivated by achieving their own personal standards for success and achievement.

I was 9 years old when I walked off the football field the very first time.  I had just finished practice and my dad was waiting on the sideline for me.  He asked me what I thought and I told him I loved it.  “Someday I’m going to go to college to play football.”  Dad asked me if I was sure and I said “yes.”  He then told me, “College football players are in great shape so, if you are going to play college football, you’ll have to be in great shape. Take off your helmet and shoulder pads and start running some laps.”  I followed his advice and I ran laps every night after practice to get in shape to play college football.  In February of 1973, I signed my letter of intent to go to the University of Connecticut to play for the team.

My dad – my manager – knew my goal and used that occasionally to keep me on track.  Occasionally, when I would fall off the training wagon, he would ask me if I still planned on playing college football.  I would always answer, “Sure!”  He would then say, “Well, I wasn’t sure. I haven’t seen you run or lift weights in a while.”  That’s all he needed to say.  Off I went.

When you know what motivates your people, you can then have the appropriate discussions to keep them on track and get them to operate at their highest level for your organization.

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Topics: effective sales coaching, sales leader, Sales Leadership, sales motivation

Your Future Self Cannot Be Trusted! 

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Mon, Nov 05, 2018

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Today, I want to talk to you about time management vs self management. Now, here's one thing we know about time, it manages itself very, very well. In fact, you don't have to worry about time managing itself, what you do need to worry about, at least what we see around the country as we coach and train salespeople, is the concept of self-management.

The reason why you need to worry about it is because of this fundamental truth, your future self cannot be trusted.

How many times do you go to the grocery store and decide that, this is the week I'm going to eat healthy only to throw away most of it by week's end?  That's right, your future self cannot be trusted.

So, one of the things that we'd like to talk about today is the concept of what do successful salespeople do when it comes to managing themselves?

Self management, not time management.

I want to give you four things that we think successful salespeople do. 

  • Successful salespeople do not waste time Here's a number, 1,440 - or better yet, the number of minutes in a day.  Successful salespeople DO NOT waste even one of them.  So, make them count!

 

  • They abandon to-do lists - They abandon to-do lists. Sounds crazy right? However, research has indicated that about 41% of things put on a to-do list never get accomplished.  Instead, successful salespeople schedule tasks directly onto their calendar, which has a much greater likelihood of these tasks actually getting accomplished.

 

  • Successful salespeople only check their email a couple times a day! Maybe once when they get to the office, maybe once after lunch and maybe once before they leave for the day. Is it really necessary when that beep or that ding goes off to look and see "Oh my goodness, what is that?" It interrupts your flow of energy on the tasks you're working on and successful people do not allow email to be a "time suck" on their day.

 

  • Successful salespeople do the hard things first - I think it was Brian Tracy that said, "If you gotta kiss a frog in your day, kiss it early."  Successful salespeople embrace that. They do the hard things first. Including scheduling the hours that they will prospect. 1,440 - I've used 3 or 4 of them this morning...it's up to YOU to use the rest. Have a great day!


So, now that we've given you OUR top four, what are some other habits that YOU think successful salespeople should follow? 

Leave a Comment below for a chance to win a Free copy of our "9 Keys to Coaching Sales Success" booklet! 

 

Time Management vs. Self Management Video:

https://anthonycoletraining.com/self-management/

Topics: time management, Sales Leadership, self management, future self, sales advice

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    About our Blog

    Founder and CLO Tony Cole has been working with financial firms for more than 25 years to help them close their sales opportunity gap.  He is a master at using science based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss his weekly sales management blog insights.

     

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