In order to continuously provide solutions to its sales leader customers, Salestools.io – Outbound Sales Acceleration platform – has gathered the very valuable sales management story of Barry Maher – speaker, author & consultant in leadership and sales – regarding the way he motivated his top performing squad from the ground-up. A real case study inspired by a true sales leader for top sales managers.
I once took a position as a sales manager with a Fortune 100 company, having been told that my unit had been first in the division the year before. However when I got there, I found that the six persons unit had three new, floundering rookies and one opening — the top salesperson in the region had been recently transferred out. This year, the unit was dead last in the region, so far in the hole that no matter how much they sold some of them wouldn’t see commission checks for at least two months. Due to the way the previous manager had manipulated the current canvas to insure his promotion, each rep was stuck with a desk full of problem accounts — all of them had to be dealt within the next three weeks. Morale would have had to be improved greatly to reach abominable.
My boss — the brand new division manager — almost immediately announced his retirement. His replacement was immediately disliked, and everything she tried seemed to make the problem worse. She scattered candy dishes around an office where most of the employees were trying to diet. She had Muzak pumped in, and everyone hated the music she selected. Her “motivational” talks left veterans snickering and rookies confused.
In my first meeting with my new unit, I’d told them that within one year they were going to be the number one unit in the region. Within less than a year they were. So how did I build their morale, motivate them and turn the unit around.
I didn’t. They did. I just made it possible for them to do it.
I demonstrated faith in them.
According to me, great leadership is about showing your people that there is more in them than they know: so they’ll be unwilling to settle for less. I made it clear to them that I truly believed that individually and collectively they had the capability to be the best. Then I acted as if it was true. Within a very short time, they were all trying to live up to my expectations. A little while longer and they had adopted those expectations as their own. Which meant they worked even harder to fulfill them.
I demonstrated my loyalty to them.
I fought for them and championed them in the division and in the company. I had their best interests at heart. I found out what their short term and long term goals were, and together we worked out concrete plans for reaching those goals. I never asked them to do anything without making it clear what was in it for them. And it wasn’t long before they were doing things just for me and for the company.
I worked for them.
I explained my belief that the company was a selling organization and that made those who did the selling the most important people in the company. I told them that all the rest of us, the administrators, the managers, the VPs, the CEO, were sales support. Then I acted on that belief and supported them in every way I could.
Together, we created a team mentality.
We were going to be number one, and we were going to help each other and mentor each other to make sure that we all made it together. We set up a mentoring program that went beyond the constant training that I was doing. No one who wanted or needed help was ever left alone with a problem.
I made it OK to make a mistake & to fail.
I did all I could to overcome their fear of failure, their fear of giving their best and proving to themselves, to me, and to those around them they did not have the potential they all wanted to believe they had. I also realized that I could never help them overcome their fear of failure unless I could first overcome my own: if I were afraid of failure, they would be also afraid. They learned to review every call, every day, every week and every month, always asking themselves what they could have done better. But after absorbing the lesson, they learned to absolve themselves — leaving the mistakes behind — and move on to the next call.
Whenever possible, we turned negatives into positives.
For example, we discussed how the top salesperson in any company is always the one who hears the most Noes: the most Noes in total and the most within any given call. We started collecting those Noes. And worked on building a specific relationship with our customers and our prospects to create tolerance in them to allow us to get more Noes in each of our calls. Eventually of course we ended up, also collecting the most Yeses.
We had fun.
We made having fun on the job and in the accounts a priority. We tried to create an atmosphere where everyone would look forward to going to work, and look forward to making the calls. A salesperson who enjoys what he is doing will sell more. The one who can make the call fun for the prospect is halfway to a sale. Any culture, a happy team and lower turnover.