Many of us have watched our children compete on soccer and lacrosse fields. We have been to college football and hockey games, and have cheered to hoarseness for our favorite professional football organizations. Although our focus is on the players on the field, the coaches on the sidelines don’t go unnoticed. They are seen pacing up and down the side of the field, sometimes yelling uncontrollably and can be spotted covering their mouths, fearful the cameras will read their plays on their lips. We expect passionate athletic coaches to scream, curse, get ejected from the game and, when successful, be doused in Gatorade. But we NEVER expect to see a coach run on the field, grab a uniform and play the game. Truly, no matter how many times Peyton might get sacked, Kubiak will never pick up a football and fall in as quarterback.
“Put down that Football!” Metaphorically that is what many of your sales representatives want to shout when sales leaders inappropriately interject, interrupt or hijack a sales call. Yes, there may be times when taking over a ‘sales call gone bad’ might be a necessity, but if you trusted the rep enough to initiate the call, how often does a call really digress to that point?
Why do sales leaders put in more than their ‘two cents’? Many sales leaders were once exceptional sales reps. A high percentage of them still enjoy selling. Add the fact that they are now the boss and accountable for quotas and revenue…and you have the perfect formula for a desire to lead and guide the conversation. And we might think why not? What a great opportunity for the rep to watch how it is done and to learn from the best. On top of that, the client clearly wants to direct his questions to the most influential person in the room!
What message does it send to the sales rep? “He doesn’t trust me.” “He doesn’t think I can do it.” “I had a different direction that I was going.” “It takes away my credibility with the client.” These are just a few of the things that sales reps have shared when they feel their manager has taken over a meeting. Most reps don’t feel comfortable in addressing these thoughts directly with their supervisor, understanding that their bosses usually are not jumping in out of malice and, most likely, do not understand the impact on the rep.
What’s a better plan? The answer can be as simple as implementing best practices for planning joint/shared sales calls. Consider and communicate the following:
- What is the goal of the call? What do we want to achieve as a result of this call?
- Who will take the lead for this call?
- What is the role of the sales manager? What is the role of the sales rep?
- When and where would it make sense for the roles to change?
- Any other significant considerations
The result? If we know the rules of the game, it is easier to play. If we have a strategic plan on how we are going to execute in a joint sales call, then both the manager and rep know when the manager will step in. No surprises and most likely a more strategized and effective meeting.
Put down the football? Maybe you won’t have to. With strong joint call planning, it will look more like receiving an exceptional throw.
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