While at the NSF Conference in February, I provided a workshop on why people are leaving sports.  One of the 5 areas we discussed was leadership…is it leading from the 80’s where we managed numbers everyday or leading in the 2000’s where we manage people? Even in the past month I’ve had some interesting questions from staff members of teams that confirm we have work to do in this area.

Our goal, as leaders, should be to grow, develop and coach our staff to develop to that next level and to hit the numbers we need to see.  One should not be done without the other…we should not focus on numbers without providing the growth, development and coaching.  Are we doing that? How can we do it better?

Develop your coaching plan for 1:1’s.  How often do you have 1:1’s?  How often is it focused strictly on what is in/not in the pipeline and have they hit/not hit the weekly goal?  What is the plan? Did they leave scratching their head or leave with a plan in place?  Do most reps even know it takes 3 times the revenue goal to have in their pipeline to hit their goal?  Do they have a strategic plan they wrote that included where and how they would prospect?  Have you coached them as to how to fill the pipeline? Have you given them steps to take in the upcoming week to increase the pipeline? Or did you simply tell them it isn’t enough and you can’t hit your goal this way?  If so, you missed a key point of your leadership role…coaching and creating a coaching plan.

After a 1:1, does the rep have 2 measurable things to work on till the next one?  Upon leaving their 1:1, most reps tell me they have absolutely no idea how to improve other than to get their numbers up.  This tells me you missed a key opportunity.  Teach. Coach. Explain.  Then give them something measurable that they will go after that you can see if they are growing and will hit their numbers.

For example, if they are having a hard time filling a pipeline, talk about lunchtime walks and coming back with 20 branded company shirts they saw for prospecting each day.  Or perhaps pulling 50 leads a day from D&B  that are qualifying prospects for them to follow up with. If having a hard time closing, go back to practicing the 2 magic words to close their sale, and check off each time it is used.  The point is, don’t just send them back and say ‘these numbers have to go up’, but rather give them something measurable that can help them get to those numbers.

Invite your team to be part of the future.  Are you telling or asking?  Telling everyone what they are selling, telling them these are the benefits for season and group, telling them to sell premium for client entertainment and employee satisfaction only limits their ability to use their brain.  The best ideas to selling will come from those listening to clients…your staff. Invite them to share and brainstorm with you.  Use some of their ideas.  Let them feel they truly are a part of this organization.

Take time to learn your staff.  Do you know what pushes each member’s buttons?  Do you know if they have some outside issues which are hindering their ability to concentrate?  Do you know anything about them? I had a rep whose mother was dying and no one knew…no one took the time to know.  He left everyday a few minutes after 5 so he could relieve the family member he had staying at the house and take care of her for the evening.  Yet he was written up for rarely staying past five.  Perhaps a conversation would have helped create a better plan than a reprimand.  Do you not leave sometimes because your child is playing a game that night or in a play? Everyone has a life outside of our walls.  Learn about it.

Work hard, play hard.  Many teams I am hearing do not announce a commission structure until well into the season.  How many corporations would survive if they did that?  Then why do we?  The promise they will be paid just isn’t enough. Most of these kids have college loans, car payments, car insurance, rent, food, utilities and oh, by the way, once in a while would like a life or tasty beverage.  Our indecision to a staff member with a lower base than ours is unforgiveable in today’s world.  If we want our staff to have a strategic plan in place and hit the ground running after the season ends, then so should we. Budgets aren’t set? Then maybe your budget for the year should include this season and the commission structure for the remainder of the year’s start of season. Also, we spend a lot of hours together…a LOT!  More so than we spend at home. Set benchmarks with an amazing reward when that benchmark is hit.  80% to group goal by opening day?  We will take a road trip with the team. Make it measurable.  Make it rewarding. Make it fun.

It breaks my heart to see great people leaving sports due to something that can be fixed internally.  Most of us want to use our brain.  We want to feel we have a say in our business.  We WANT to hit the goals…we just need a leader that can help us along the way, motivating in a positive way, coaching and teaching us, and giving us measurable things to grow on.  If we stay in our offices (not a big fan of offices for leaders by the way) and email to our reps or tell and not coach and develop, we will most likely not have our staff hit their numbers…or, if they do, they will be hit by intimidation rather than by motivation.  And the door will continue to revolve.

Kathy Burrows, CEO, Sold Out Seating (SOS)

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