I would like to ask you to participate in a quick exercise. First, think about all of the teachers, athletic coaches, business managers, etc. that you have had in your life. How many have you encountered along the way, 100? 200? Now, from that large pool of individuals who are responsible developing people, how many of them profoundly impacted your life that you can honestly say that you would not have achieved the success you have to date without them in your life?
If you are like the masses, you can likely count those critically impactful people you have had in your life on just one of your hands. It is unfortunate, and frankly a bit sad. Now I would like you to think about those amazing few who were able to truly engage you, teach you, and get you to a heightened level of sustained performance; what were they able to do that all of the others could not? Now write those characteristics down in big bold capital letters on a white piece of computer paper and ask yourself one more question. Am I living these words and allowing their impact to positively affect every sales rep on my team?
This is not an exercise to be taken lightly by front-line sales managers or anyone in a leadership position. In this recent article titled Rethinking College ROI: The Rewards Of Meaningful Student-Professor Relationships a recent Gallup/Purdue survey of 30,000 college graduates, showed that students who have at least one formative relationship with a professor later become the most “engaged” professionals – those who are the most “deeply involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work” and their field. This is a critically important study for the sales world to take notice of considering another recent Gallup poll that showed sales team engagement worldwide hovers somewhere around 13%. This is a problem, not only from a productivity standpoint, but also from the standpoint of how rare great leadership is in today’s working environment.
Last week, EcSell’s Director of Research Stacia Jorgenson, blogged about a research project she has been working on with data from the EcSell Institute’s Through the Eyes of the Rep (TTEOTR) survey. This research study analyzed open-text responses from sales reps who were asked to describe what their sales manager does best. The EcSell Institute examines this piece of data because we feel it gives us important insight. Specifically, we believe that by analyzing what a rep perceives their manager does best, we have a window into understanding what manager behaviors reps feel benefit them the most. In other words, when we know what behaviors our reps value in their manager, we know which behaviors make a difference to the rep.
Conceptually I believe that most everyone in sales management roles understand they need to be exhibiting specific and consistent behaviors that will allow their reps to prosper, learn, and grow as sales people and individuals. Deep down I think most would like to have a similar meaningful impact on their sales people’s lives as somebody once had on theirs, but the gap between wanting to be a truly impactful sales leader and one who actually lives it, is a chasm. To draw an analogy, everyone knows that they should eat healthy and exercise more, but the difficult part is in the execution --- just look around.