Sales managers: Would your salespeople hire you?
Remember the playground game where two captains would pick teams? The sport might have been dodge ball or soccer and football or whatever sport was popular in your school and where you grew up.
By definition there was always someone picked last. But he was still on the team.
What if we changed the protocol and let the kids pick the captains? Would the outcome be any different?
What if we applied the same protocol for hiring in sales? What if salespeople had to pick – hire – their sales manager? Would the outcome be any different?
Maybe the process wouldn’t change who gets the offer, but I wonder if it would change how each salesperson is lead and managed by the one selected.
Maybe you’re thinking this is crazy, like having the animals run the zoo. Or maybe it’s like Lebron James getting final say on who the Cavaliers hire as the coach. Well…
There could be many reasons why this would never work. The makeup of sellers in sales regions often looks like a cross section of the United Nations. This rep’s more of a hunter, that one’s more of a farmer, this one doesn’t do cold calling that well, that one sometimes struggles to ask for the business, this one hunts whales, that one hunts squirrels, this one’s cheery and positive, that one’s pensive and introverted, this one’s totally relationship focused, that one’s more focused on the task of qualifying and closing the sale. How in the world could one person manage this variability in personality, ambition, skill level, selling style and more?
Another reason you might think it would never work – do salespeople really know what’s best for them in a manager? Would they gravitate toward someone too much like themselves? Wouldn’t they be better off with someone that complements their strengths and weaknesses? Would they see only the strengths and not notice the downside of the weaknesses?
If salespeople might not know what’s best for them in a sales manager does a sales manager necessarily know what’s best for each salesperson?
If you’re a sales manager here’s an idea: Approach next week like you’re interviewing again for the job. You’ve got to convince each salesperson to want to hire you. As you prepare your approach to each person here are some ideas.
Make sure you understand what each rep wants and why. One mistake I see managers sometimes make is assuming too much about what a salesperson wants from the job. For example, some managers believe every salesperson wants to be developed. I’ve met quite a few reps who’d rather be left alone. That doesn’t mean their minds can’t be changed but it does mean the approach to do so might need to be different.
Take the time to learn what motivates each salesperson right now. DNA might be a strong determinant of ambition and fate and might be for life but what motivates each person can ebb and flow. Why not ask?
Remember that your sellers don’t operate in a vacuum and therefore leading and managing shouldn’t either. A rep taking a tough hit on company wide back orders might be too distracted to dive into a Funnel Audit conversation. Take the time to see the whole person to help you understand and then choose your coaching approach.
Consider how your style and personality matches up to that of each salesperson. Sometimes we don’t take the time to realize how we naturally come across to others. I watched a manager do a deal review with his rep that I thought was an exercise in bullying. I coached him on it after the call and he thought he was just being tough. It’s tempting to think our good intentions can trump a lot.
I saw a quote recently that stuck with me. It said people won’t always remember what you said but they will remember how you made them feel. Why not take the time to reconnect with your salespeople and let them see why they should hire you again as their manager.