So, you're not fortunate enough to pick your own "talent." How do you work with what you've got?
- As a new sales manager, you probably didn't get to pick your own talent, so how do you work with what you've got? The answer is coaching. When you get out and you start coaching some of your people though, you may realize that some talent isn't that talented, nor are they that fixable. An important thing to recognize is, if you have a bad rep, they are going to cost you more than just the sales left on the table. A bad rep discourages the good reps, they turn off potential customers, and it can have a chilling effect on your brand as a whole.
So, when you're looking at your team, if you've got someone that's not performing, you need to ask yourself, "how would I feel if this person quit tomorrow?" If the answer is, I'd be relieved, then you know what you need to do. If you have the authority and you've been really clear with expectations and they haven't met them, it's time to let that person go. But what if you can't fire them? What if for whatever reason you can't let them go? Maybe they're in a support position or they don't actually work for you. Then, what you need to do is you need to neutralize them.
Your focus should be on helping this person just break through the threshold of average. It's depressing, but it's true. So, what you want to do is you want to focus on the behaviors that are going to be easier to change, like call openings or email correspondence. You don't want to overinvest in these people, especially if you aren't seeing improvement. But if you do spend a little one-on-one time coaching them, you may get better results than you expect. Now, aside from coaching, there are a few other things you can do to make sure that one bad rep doesn't ruin the rest of your team.
First, don't give them the hardest customers. This may seem counterintuitive and you may be thinking, well no one can close them, so whatever. Well, that's wrong. You also might be thinking if they don't sell anything and they don't make any money, they might leave voluntarily. That might also be wrong, they may do worse, they may quit and stay. When you give the rep the bad rep and possible customers it only makes them worse. They don't know how to handle tough questions, they have poor negotiation skills, and bringing all that to the surface erodes their confidence and it erodes your reputation in the market.
So, what do you do? Well, show them what good looks like. Now, this doesn't mean taking over all their sales calls. Utilize the star players on your team to set a good example. When you send a poor performing rep out with a great rep, it gives them the space to learn when they're not in front of the boss. It's significantly less humiliating to have a coworker help you out of a bad spot than it is to have your boss. A third thing, if you've got a poor performer, you might need just to accept it.
Now, this is not an ideal situation and it's not your first go to, but if there's nothing you can do as a new sales manager, you might need to accept that one of your performers is going to be less than great. Make some peace with the fact that this person's not going to be an all star and they're not going to change over night. So, what you need to do is invest your time elsewhere, where it really matters.
- Understanding your role
- Setting the tone as manager
- Recruiting the right people
- Dealing with inherited bad talent
- Making sales meetings count
- Working with marketing, accounting, and product
- Communicating with senior leaders
- Dealing with failure