I had an interesting turn of events this week when I was approached by two of my sales team – being told that basically ‘Deepak you’re too soft’.
It’s been an interesting turn of events in respect of how to run an effective sales team.
I have had a troop of sales guys in now for a month – and the truth is – is that no-one is performing.
There are top performers within the group that are performing – but we’re still falling short of what’s required to make this commercially feasible.
To add to that – I’ve never run a sales team before – or rather run a cold calling sales team. The other side of the team (Jude/Ion/Daniel) are all commission only sales reps and the approach with those folks is different.
They don’t have a basic salary so there’s not as much you can say or tell them as it’s a mutual value exchange.
Anyway, I decided to take the advice of Louis and David and get tougher with the team.
The day I said:
- Why do you guys say ‘yes yes yes’ and then you don’t actually do what you say you will do?
- No one is performing
- If people can’t get their admin right then you’re not getting paid
Well….it went from one appointment one day, to seven appointments the next day – so a literal night and day change.
It’s made me reflect upon the parts of the business that are more successful versus those that aren’t.
What are the core differences between them?
Well one significant element of it is how direct you are when it comes to giving feedback.
I’m definitely now seeing the difference between being a nice guy…and being the bogey man as my head of inbound sales Ion affectionately called it.
And I can see from the data that I’m getting back – that being ‘firm’ (SUPER-FIRM) but fair – is definitely the way that my team is effective when it comes to running the business smoothly.
Practically what does this mean for me?
- Calling people out publicly in front of the rest of the team when they evidently haven’t watched / understood something they are meant to
- Asking people to stipulate timelines and deadlines for things and asking them to stick to those timelines
- Expecting people to learn something once, and then get it immediately
- Being in an environment where the expectation is the relentless pursuit of excellence
I watched an interview with Sir Alex Ferguson (the former manager of Manchester United) yesterday and there was an element of it that was powerful for me to hear –
Putting people into an environment where success is expected and what kind of people you need to succeed in an environment like that.
As he said – when you’re at Manchester United – you’re expected to win. Expected to win every game – it goes without saying.
This is the culture that I didn’t instill quick enough within the sales team – but is a culture that I’m not instilling.
This means practically then – that the expectations are high, and that people are being told (and I’ll make it more explicit as we move forward) – that if they don’t perform – they will go.
And the feedback to this has been positive. That upping the ante makes the expectation clear.
So I want you to think about what implications this has for your team –
Always be fair but also be very direct.
Phrases such as:
‘This is my expectation – is that clear to you?’.
‘When do you think you can get this done by?
‘If you say you can do something I expect you to get it done – and to give me notice if you can’t get it done – is this clear to you?’
‘If people don’t like it – they are welcome to leave anytime they want – that’s not a problem’
‘If you think something is unreasonable – tell me now so we can discuss it’
Making all of this known as the expectation to all around you will then set the expectation of what needs to be done.
When you head to your next team meeting – look at what happens when you raise the minimum standard up by 10 notches.
There will be some pushback, some will leave – but those who stay – will be of a much higher caliber than those who went.
So in the end, the weak are the deadweights anyway.