Sometimes the difference between achieving the Sales Target or not can have a lot to do with the connection between you and your sales team. Incidentally, although I focus in this article on sales teams the principles here relate to most any team where there is an outcome to be achieved.
The frameworks of Transformational Leadership and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs coupled with the five elements listed below will create strong, successful cohesive sales teams capable of delivering beyond expectation.
Surprisingly, the role of the Leader and Leadership in many sales organisations is grossly overlooked. Given the positive impact that good strong Leadership can have on sales volumes you would expect that all sales organisations would be running continuous development programs around this subject.
Your team or teams need a compelling reason to follow your lead. As a Leader you need to take the task which has been set for you from your manager or business and create and communicate an inspiring vision of the future.
The Vision you create will set out your sales team’s purpose, the reason you all get up in the morning and do what you do. This will translate in to a clearly defined mission statement that you will share with your team, this will form the foundation of all forward actions in pursuit of the Vision.
Once you have clearly defined you vision and created a mission statement it’s now time to stimulate your peoples values, inspiring them with the journey you are about to take with them and what is in it for them.
Understanding that each member of your team is different and each will have varying needs, needs of the individual will have a greater impact for you than will the needs of the team for the individual. Create a genuine relationship and understanding of each team member, knowing what their needs are will help to motivate them to taking action and building a relationship of trust with you.
Herzberg’s Motivators and Hygiene Factors
The bottom line is that if you want your sales team to be successful and achieve your stated sales goals, you have to change your approach of how you manage and interact with them. Make it about them and their goals rather than the company’s so that they take their success or lack of it personally. Then, give them a detailed road map that they can follow consistently. The more you lay out the processes, methods, and tools for your salespeople, the more success they’ll achieve for themselves and the company.
Empowerment provides the means and opportunity for people to do what they know needs doing, and to do that in a manner that they choose, according to their experience and judgment. It’s very much a “pull” strategy whereby the work environment is designed so that workers develop intrinsic reasons to meet objectives and perform to expectations.
When sales people are empowered they:
- Trust that information will be shared with them.
- Perform work that is meaningful.
- Have significant control over the work they do.
- Are confident they have the ability to meet objectives.
- Believe their opinion counts.
- Are self-motivated to complete high quality work.
When you empower people they feel competent, they understand that they have control over their work, and they derive value and meaning from their work. This can produce a great deal of trust and satisfaction. To create this type of work environment, there are four key elements you need to provide:
Personal mastery – create situations where people can experience success. The more accomplished a person feels, the more confident they are to tackle more responsibility and more complexity. This creates a highly competent individual capable of achieving great things.
- Recognise small accomplishments.
- Provide opportunities for small wins.
- Increase responsibility and challenge slowly and regularly.
- Provide opportunities to manage and lead others.
Compelling vision – paint a clear picture of what needs to be accomplished and why. Link the everyday work to the big picture and allow your team to find ways to connect the dots.
- Talk about values.
- Create positive emotions around the current objectives.
- Communicate results often.
- Use motivating language and keep excitement levels high.
When they have the resources and support to use that information to the best of their ability, you create a really empowering environment. When you provide these necessary foundations, you send the message that you trust your people to find the best way to do something, and you are in their corner, rooting for their success.
- Provide a context for the work that is needed.
- Talk about progress and give regular status reports.
- Check to make sure people have sufficient time, space, training, and equipment, and so on to achieve their objectives.
- Take time to really listen to workers’ concerns.
- Use open communication to help people cope with uncertainty and change.
Trustworthiness – for people to feel empowered they have to believe you can be trusted to back them up. Just as it is scary to give up some of your control, it can be equally scary to accept that control. In an environment of trust, your team is free to experiment, to learn and grow, and to contribute their ideas freely without feeling judged or intimidated.
- Be reliable, consistent, and dependable.
- Do what you say and walk the walk.
- Be fair and apply the same standards to everyone.
- Show you care about each person’s success.
- Maintain openness and be honest.
Demonstrate your own competence and skill so that your team knows their trust in you is deserved.
As a Sales Leader who has successfully created the vision, motivated and empowered your team it’s time now to manage and support the result. Each person needs to have their individual goals clearly defined together with their roles and responsibilities within the team. This is a great opportunity for you as a Leader to have valuable One to One time with individuals giving them the opportunity to fully understand how you are to support them in the achievement of their target, your vision for them.
During this process you should convey clearly and concisely each of the areas below.
- What the individual’s objective is (Target)
- What the company, team and your values are
- What actions required to achieve this objective
- What ongoing training, coaching and support is provided
- What reporting and communications are required by the team member
- What the performance evaluation process is
- What your visibility, accompaniment, support will be
It is critical that during this process you are genuine, authentic and above all congruent with the messages given out in your earlier phases of Vision, Motivation and Empowerment.
It is easy to be a preacher and create followers, however if you do not follow through on what you preach you soon become someone who is seen as able to write cheques with his mouth that his body is not capable of cashing.
As a leader, you need to focus your attention on your people, and work hard to help them achieve their goals and dreams.
It also underlines the fact that leadership is a long-term process, and that, as a leader, you need to work constantly to build relationships, earn trust, and help your people grow as individuals.
Meet your people individually to understand their developmental needs and help them to meet their career goals. What do they want to achieve in their role? Where do they see themselves five years from now? How can you help them reach this goal?
You can build trust with your people by being open and honest in your interactions.
Lastly, set aside time to coach your people. When you help them find their own solutions, you not only create a skilled team, but you also strengthen their self-confidence and their trust in you.
Finally, connecting with your team should be fun, invigorating and rewarding, take time to get to know you people, learn humility and be honest, genuine and congruent.