If you can answer "yes" to the above, you may have a dependency culture in your team and guess what, the more you "help" the worse it gets!
Is there a magic spell that can clear your inbox, reduce your stress, empower your people to solve their own problems and remember how to do it next time?
However, there is a process that over time, with patience and consistency will do all of these things. Actually, it uses all the same skills you built as a sales person. In fact, because it uses the same skills, it also demonstrates to your sales people how they should communicate with their customers.
It's called Coaching.
What is it? It is asking questions and setting objectives. Coaching draws out rather than puts in (just like great consultative selling). This means that we draw out the solution from the sales person by asking questions rather than putting it in ourselves. This is good for the following reasons:
- The Sales Person is making all the effort
- The solution that they create will be formed from their own logic
- As a result of this, they will remember it
- If they know they will be asked to think it through, they will, over time, start doing it before they come and ask you
- We are conditioning the sales person to evaluate situations and create solutions - just what we do with customers!
Who should we start with? Work with your average performers first. Most sales teams are not filled with star performers or under performers. Therefore, if we can start to change the way they think it will have the biggest impact on us, our inbox and the culture of the team. In terms of results, if we can develop them to improve their performance by 5%, this will have the greatest impact on the figures.
How often should we Coach? We are changing the dynamic between us and our team so it is not an activity limited to field visits or one to ones. To reinforce change, we should be consistent and make it a regular feature of our conversations with our team. It should feel natural and logic for both participants.
The most important thing is that you both understand what you should do at the end of the conversation and then re-visit these issues the next time you speak.
Is it all about solving problems and setting objectives? It is a practical tool that looks at improving performance and independence. However, to increase your team's feeling of independence, they need to be confident. Therefore, positive reinforcement of what they do well is just as important as helping them evaluate situations and think through a course of action.
A big part of the coaching process is increasing people's self awareness. We all have blind spots but to point those out without the balance of building on strengths can de-motivate and frustrate a team.
How do we set objectives? In short, keep it simple and be practical. Real behavioural change takes time and commitment. If we work on one thing at a time, as long as we stick with it, we'll get there. Giving someone 10 things to think about confuses the message, sets them up to fail and is more difficult for us to keep track of.
How do we follow up on objectives? Keep records of the areas you are working on with each person and measure the change in performance wherever possible. Feedback progress to the people you are Working with. Nothing makes people focus their efforts more than the knowledge that it is being measured and tracked, and the visible change in performance is highly motivating. Celebrate success and make it public - happy people sell more!