Businessman tricking a workmate in april fool's dayNot exactly an HR warm and fuzzy when a sales manager makes that comment about their staff.  But, from some distant planetary perspective, we can understand.

Most sales/design teams have been rudderless for years.  It seems that every new person on-boarded has a slightly different way of doing things.  For instance, maybe Elsie never really chased the close and made it more about her design (after all, it worked in 2002!).  And perhaps Adam seldom inquired about the budget up front; but we thought he closed well since he made people feel comfortable.  Even the most skilled and likable people on your team can (and will) cost you the game if they don’t subscribe to your vision and follow your rules.

Sigh, if only things were still good…

But, let’s now turn that pointed finger back 180 degrees.  What has management done to ensure a unified sales process with checks and balances, and a (consistently and easily) measurable output?  People will follow you into battle if they believe in you and your cause.  Are you and your cause believable?

People (even salespeople) scream for process.  In the absence of it, they run amuck (I’ve never had a chance to use that word; I like it!).  People, especially good salespeople, also like to be graded.  After all, if I use the process and it gets the intended results, I’ll be recognized for my work.  Maybe I’ll even get a better parking spot…or my name on a plaque.  Or, dare I say it – make more money for doing my job…

We’ve found that, more times than not, when a sales manager is so frustrated with his employees, they are equally frustrated with the system. (Can you say turnover? Sure you can.) There’s no need to have it go that far.

We’ve had our fair share of articles about salespeople and designers needing to step up their game, but this article is for you sales managers out there.  You know who you are: you’re the ones who don’t invest in your teams or make people feel rewarded.  You also don’t watch out for your troops or go the extra mile to surround your team with knowledge and tools for success.

This article is for you sales managers and execs out there who still just don’t get it.  Whose answer to the thorny problem of selling more is simply, “just get it done.”  Instead of taking salespeople out back in an attempt to metaphorically “beat the stupid out of them,” here are some tips you can use yourself to “get smarter.”

  • Have a vision.  It’s not enough to just talk about it at certain levels of your organization; you need to live and breathe it every day with everyone.  What’s the goal, anyhow – and can your team describe how they’re going to get there?
  • Hire “A” players and don’t compromise.  “A” players feed off of other “A” players.  They can’t stand “B” players. They embrace change, accept process and will follow you into the battle.  “B” players, however,  attract other “B” and “C” players and are like a fungus between your toes that keeps getting worse.  Before you know it, the toenails of your sales team are falling off and things don’t smell quite right.
  • Get a sales process already!  Jeesh, you’d think this would have been implemented like two years ago already.  The number one difference between a high selling designer and an everyday, run-of-the-mill designer is the use of a sales process.  Let me guess, social media is for 14 year olds, right?
  • Embrace technology. Just because your Dad thought a computer would capture your soul and use it against you one day, doesn’t mean it’s the right way to look at things. If you can’t measure it in real time, then you can’t manage it.  Make an investment and try something different.  Excel is no way to live.
  • Cull the pack. If someone doesn’t follow your vision, play at a high level or embrace technology then cut them. It’s not comfortable, but it’s right for the business.  As you look back months later, you’ll realize a 10 ton anchor was lifted from everyone’s shoulders and you’ll see improvements across the board.   It’s not just about hiring the right people – it’s also about letting the wrong people go (even if they are selling).

Or, you could just keep doing the same old thing and take them out back to try to beat the stupid out of them.  Just be sure to let a few more locations close for lack of performance first so the parking lot is empty when you do it.