Selling is a people business, so it logically follows that sales performance and people performance go hand-in-hand. However the unsophisticated ‘man-management’ approaches adopted by most sales organizations leave a lot of the people potential under-exploited.
To put it another way the sales potential of any organization is a function of the potential of its sales people and more specifically the ability of its managers to develop and maximize that potential. That is its ability to engage them more, as well as to develop their levels of skills, confidence and passion.
Sales potential is a function of people potential – you cannot unlock one without the other. That is an obvious point, but it has real implications for today’s sales managers.
Key to un-locking more of an organizations sales potential is to tap into the potential of its people. So, the question arises: ‘How much of your sales team’s full potential is really being exploited?’
The reality is that most salespeople have more to give than they presently give to their jobs. In most cases they could work harder and / or smarter. In addition there is often untapped or underdeveloped skills, and perhaps the potential to be more confident or driven.
Little wonder then that managers typically say that their people are performing at 60% and 70%, sometimes lower with specific named persons in mind. But what to do about it? Sometimes managers seem powerless.
The Good News About Unexploited Potential
A realistic appraisal of the extent to which the sales team is giving of its full potential can disappoint and frustrate many managers. However, as in all conversations regarding potential we tend to focus on the positive side of things.
Focusing on potential is always positive. While discussions regarding performance are often back-wards looking, focusing on potential tends to be positive and future focused.
If people today are only giving 50 or 60% of their potential, think of what can be achieved when they increase their level of commitment and performance by even just 5 or 10%. From there the focus immediately turns to ‘how can we get people more engaged and passionate about their jobs?’
Understanding What Drives Performance
To understand sales behaviours and performance look beyond personalities, processes and skill. Look behind the behaviour to the passions, priorities and purpose of the sales person and the sales team.
Will Your Sales Team Go The Extra Mile?
Managers spend a lot of time focused on the issue of sales process, sales skills, the sales system and so on as the key to higher levels of performance. These are important, but they don’t address the more fundamental issue of ‘why’ a sales team will go the extra mile.
The research says that most people do little more than they need to do in order to get by and to keep their jobs. If they are going to pull out all the stops and strive for a higher level of performance then there has to be a reason why.
In sales as well as any other area we know that the ‘why’ is much more important than the ‘how’. Yet, it is the ‘how’ that gets lots of attention, while the ‘why’ is often overlooked.
Accelerating sales performance is going to require an extra effort, it will require; new learning, new ideas and behaviors, experimentation and taking risks. It is also likely to require breaking fee of old; patterns of behavior, strategies and comfort-zones. That is the ‘how’ of accelerating sales performance.
None of these things can happen based on a half-heart-ed commitment – that is a compelling ‘why’. Yet that is what many sales organizations (and indeed most organizations in generally) are working with. Indeed, the figures on the real level of workplace engagement makes fueling the sales team’s desire to win the number one job for the sales manager.
So, the question is what is the ‘why’ for your sales team? What is it that motivates them to strive for ever higher performance. What is going to get them fired-up and keep them fired-up? That is a question that managers can’t answer by themselves.