By definition, an epiphany is the initiated, intuitive perception of an essential reality. While I’ve had many (some not soon enough) a memorable event occurred for me over 10 years ago, one that still drives our mission, creates passion within our team and certainly impacts how we serve our members.
In 2001, following a not so stellar quarter, my boss, the US Director of Sales, stated the challenges that kept us from hitting our number were all sales management issues. As a relatively new Regional Sales Manager I balked at this proclamation, for I didn’t feel he was in a position to make such a statement. This guy was not in the market with us on a daily basis, he had obviously lost touch with the reality of sales and was now shifting the blame to us. I boldly suggested that operations have some ownership, customer service was certainly a concern, technical support was in total flux, marketing seemed to be of little help, and bottom line--the reps just didn’t get it done! Retrospectively I was not willing to accept full responsibility that the reasons for not achieving peak performance (or hitting our number) were under the direct control of our sales management team.
But his remark stayed with me, challenging and then altering my naïve` pattern of thinking. Bottom line: though not immediately, his statement caused an epiphany, a pivotal insight into the reality that the production of sales reps is a true reflection of how they are coached, led and managed. This is, by the way, a very humbling reality when your number was not met.
This epiphany can occur for you as well, when two thoughts are realized and properly aligned:
- You are exposed to and educated on the candid simplicity of why teams perform, and the role of the coach/manager in the outcome.
- You fully accept the responsibility and accountability that comes with this new understanding of your role. Or said another way, you now realize that your team is perfectly coached for the results they are achieving today.
It is easy to give lip service to the above, but those who truly “get it” will understand it is not the sales people who are limiting or causing growth, it is the sales leadership team. Logically then, in order to maximize sales there should be more resources directed towards the sales leadership team—viewed by many as an unorthodox way to grow sales. Coaching becomes the new necessary skill needed to grow.
There will be challenges:
- At the EcSell Institute, we often hear sales leaders say “I’m too busy”. Last I looked, we all have the same 24 hours in a day, and “I’m too busy” is not an acceptable excuse. Those three simple words are the #1 cause of limited growth. Our established members, met with the same time constraints as other sales executives, no longer accept this excuse. Those who have had the epiphany make the time, they will protect the time, and will provide the necessary resources to become great coaches because the ROI is too significant to ignore.
- Not all sales managers will want the attention that comes with the epiphany. For done properly there will be greater clarity to all management roles (coaching metrics should now be tracked), which make many uncomfortable. However, great sales leaders understand that not everyone will be on board, but waiting to implement a coaching process for the management team only delays growth, an unacceptable approach. Side note—based on our experience, those who fight the most are the same ones who should never have been placed in a management role.
What are the benefits? The financial gains are limitless, for great coaches know better than to place boundaries on how much can be sold. So, the instant in which managers acknowledge and accept responsibility of their team, and begin the coaching improvement journey, could quite literally be worth millions. There will be a new mindset, which leads to an evolved approach to team performance, which leads to improvement in many areas. Lower turnover, greater associate engagement, happier customers, and increased sales are compelling gains to witness in response to the epiphany.
To quote Curt Coffman (co-author of First Break all the Rules: What the Worlds Greatest Managers do Differently) in a conversation we had not long ago, “The ability to build organic growth and the future viability of business lies in the hands of Sales Managers.”
Is your team prepared?
This piece is dedicated to Bill Schoenberger, my U.S. Director of Sales, who cared enough to challenge not only my actions, but my thinking. So much of what we do at EcSell started with you.
Learn how sales managers can maximize team performance by attending our upcoming Sales Coaching Summit
Learn more about how sales managers should be “coaching” instead of “managing” teams with our free e-book, The Three Drivers of Sales Team Performance