How independent are the sales reps within your sales force? Are your sellers in constant need of support from sales management? If so, it can wreak havoc on your company’s revenue goals and bottom line. So what creates a culture of dependency within a sales force? There is one simple answer—leadership. Your sales management leadership style could be fostering a culture of dependency, often without you even realizing it.
Sales management is meant to provide direction, tools, and resources to help sellers succeed in their role, but there is such a thing as too much support. Successful sales forces have both a high level of support from sales management and sales reps with a high-level of independence. If you feel overwhelmed because you are always working to close deals that your sellers just can’t seem to get across the finish line, you are likely witnessing signs of dependency within your sales force. You may also realize that your position as sales manager is not scalable. You may also notice that sellers are hesitant to make decisions on their own or they are not developing professionally. If these signs sound a little too familiar, consider the following five tips to foster more independence within your sales force.
1) Delay Responding
How quickly do you respond when your sales reps call or email you with a problem? Have you considered delaying your response? What would happen if you didn’t respond to every email or phone call from your reps immediately? Perhaps they would have time to think through a problem on their own. Experienced sales managers typically wait an hour before responding to non-urgent requests. It is amazing how many problems get resolved in the hour it takes to respond.
2) Ask for Solutions
Sales managers often ask for information, but are you also asking for solutions? Resist the desire to take shortcuts by immediately answering seller questions with a solution. When sellers come to you with a problem, ask them what they’ve already tried, and what else they are considering. If they don’t have a plan, ask them to come back with a few possible solutions.
3) Set Expectations for Decision Making
Do your sellers know what decisions they are empowered to make on their own? If your sellers seem hesitant to call any shots, it might be because they don’t want to step on management’s toes. Instead of leaving sellers guessing as to what decisions they should make on their own, set clear expectations from the onset that define what areas of decision-making are under a reps’ control. This will provide your sellers with confidence in their level of decision-making authority.
4) Establish a Process
In the absence of a sales process, it is possible that you as the sales manager become the defacto sales process. When sellers are unsure of the next step, they go to sales management for direction. If you want to break this cycle, establish a repeatable management process and adhere to it so that sellers know the parameters in which they operate. Do this and you will likely find that sellers don’t have to constantly look to sales management for next steps.
5) Make Coaching a Priority
Regardless of how busy your schedule is, don’t skip one-on-one coaching sessions with sellers if you want to foster a culture of independence within your sales force. When sellers know they have a meeting scheduled with you in the near future, they will save many of their questions and discussion points for the meeting. Set the expectation that this time will be used to discuss important issues and structure the conversation in each meeting to ensure all major topics are addressed so that your sellers are equipped to succeed in their role. The more you pour into each coaching session, the more independent your sellers will be in the long run.
To learn more about VantagePoint Performance, visit our website at https://www.vantagepointperformance.com/.