What Message Are You Sending Your Sales Team?


A member of the analytics team for a group I was working with told the sales team that he would rather have 1 person in the facility spending $1M than he would to have 1M customers coming out that spent $1 each.  He also added his dislike of  smaller partial plan holders “who waste our time and didn’t deserve nearly the same treatment as they were fickle anyway.”  This was a person who would often say ‘we don’t need them.  Get the bigger sale.'” During renewals it was an attitude of ‘fine, let them go. We don’t need them.” Needless to say, this was a very depressed sales team, and damage control was frequently being done.

These were very challenging and depressing statements made to the sales team.  To say it hurt culture would be an understatement.  It created a team that went through the motions, continually looking over their shoulder.  Not a great environment for sales.

My question is:  what message are you sending YOUR sales team?

I have teams that have hugely successful sales reps in terms of revenue and hitting goals who are being reprimanded because they are bringing in money but not making 70 calls a day to do it. ????? There are a lot of teams out there who are reading this saying “I want those reps on my team!!!”  Yet the message you are actually sending is “I’m glad you are crushing your goals but my metrics for success is 70 calls a day, and so you are not successful.”  Conflicting message? 1980’s all over again?  Frustrated rep? Reps who will probably leave sports shaking their head? Let’s change the message to focusing on a guideline of metrics: here is the goal, here are ways to achieve it, and let’s watch your growth week by week and see where you need help. Some people are not good at 70 calls a day, but turn them loose on social media or in person and they could hit their goal in a month.

I’ve had leaders complain to successful reps that, again, it’s great that their goals are being crushed, but their hustle scores aren’t where they need to be, so they will probably not be promoted. ?????? Again, a measure straight out of the 80’s that we still use and not very well.  Let’s change the message to setting a team goal for the week, and everyone’s name on the board with a personal goal for the week. Let’s focus on hitting the goal with various measures in place as above:  can include in person/calls/social media/ etc.  But the ultimate measure: hitting the goal.

There are leaders who bring trainers aboard…and then never step in to see or hear what is being trained.  What is the message that is being sent? “You can listen, but when it’s done, it’s still being done my way.” Or, “I did my job and got a trainer. Now just sell according to my metrics.”  Let’s change the message to let’s all hear some new ways to sell and let’s discuss afterwards how we can implement them best.

What about the leader who tells their team ” here is what we are selling.  Go sell it.” What is the message there? Kind of like the hamster who is to run that little treadmill trying to get that treat.  No input, no teamwork. No empowerment. Just do it. Let’s change the message to here’s what needs to be sold. Let’s talk about the best ways you feel we can attack this and put a plan together to do it this week.

I’ve experienced the negative leader.  Sell by intimidation.  That’s a really great message to send out to your team. Let’s change the message to here’s the goal.  As a team, you have a half hour to decide how you are going to attack it, and how much each of you will be accountable for. You can also decide a reward for the week for hitting it.

Sometimes it’s a trickle down effect…our boss yells at us, and in reaction we respond to the sales team in the same way.  Let’s change the message to one of respond instead of react.

My point is, what we say and how we act as leaders will have a direct result on our staff. It will result in turnover, in goals not being hit, in frustration levels, lack of passion and poor culture. We all need to look at the message we are sending. Is it upbeat? Is it inclusive? Are we empowering? Are we coaching? Are we encouraging our reps to use their brain and be creative in methods of sales? Are we open minded to change? Are we understanding or are we forgetful of the fact that our reps hear a lot of ‘no’s’ before they get a yes? Do we remember that in sports, people certainly aren’t there because of the pay…but rather for the passion.

Most importantly, do we remember that each and every client that our reps bring aboard is so very important to them. They worked hard to build that relationship, be it a premium or a partial plan. They want to respect that relationship and continue to nurture it as we don’t know what the future investment will be. A good message here is to encourage your reps to have coffee with those they have sold to occasionally.  Keep the relationship going. Encourage them to ask their buyers for help to find more like them.

What we say and how we say it will have a direct impact on how our reps will perform. What messages have you been sending YOUR sales reps?

Kathy Burrows, Sold Out Seating

For Sales Trainings, Leadership Trainings:  kathy@soldoutseating.com

“Out of all of the trainings we’ve had thus far, your session was most definitely impactful! ”  Kelly Marnin NY Islanders

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