Learning from the strong

Learning from the strong
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Get your team to excel by creating a culture of learning from the strong.

Let the stronger members of your team lead: motivation tactics for managers

Team leaders and managers can make or break a team. And if you doubt this, think of that old saying, “People do not quit jobs, they quit bosses.” Today we examine the role of the manager in motivating teams and how effective leadership and the right tactics improves the sales game. Tactics like, learning from the strong.

The role of the sales manager
A sales manager is responsible for the development of strategic sales plans and the overall management of the team that performs those sales. A manager is also, however, responsible for motivating teams and discovering areas that need improvement. This, unfortunately, is often where it goes wrong.

Motivation don’ts
Salespeople can feel demotivated when their sales figures are down. Managers who respond with support tend to see better results than those who respond with threats or a bad attitude. Additionally, managers who respond with humiliation tactics, such as addressing an individual’s failures in front of their colleagues, see decreased interest from the entire team! (Which is the opposite of what they had in mind.) What is more, senseless tactics such as these result in high staff turnaround that leads to lost relationships with clients and decreased product knowledge in the field.

Let the strong motivate the team
A sales team is made up of individual salespeople. It therefore makes sense that supporting a team comes down to supporting the individuals that make up that team. Every good sales manager knows that people have different levels of skill. Exceptional mangers, however, know how to identify areas in which individuals are lacking and which tools to use to accomplish better results. And they do it without losing their team’s motivation.

Let’s say, for example, you have a salesperson that excels at the quoting phase. His quotes are correct and well-structured, and he therefore receives more feedback from his efforts than any other person on the team. If you create a healthy environment that rewards the sharing of ideas, such as an overall team incentive for reaching targets, you will see both willingness from the stronger team members to share their processes as well as enthusiasm from the weaker individuals to learn. Learning from the strong then becomes part of the culture.

Another advantage of using the stronger team members as mentors is that they likely display a professional confidence that the weaker individuals in the team do not. Letting the stronger individuals lead hands-on is different to a manager telling them what to do. It is like the old ‘show don’t tell’ lesson we all heard in English class (albeit applied a little differently here). Going through the steps with someone who is actively excelling at a task will serve you far better than sitting in a workshop about the same topic.

What weaker team members can be learning from the strong
Strong members of a sales team do not have a fear of rejection, or, they do not display that fear in a manner that affects their sales. They additionally know how to manage expectation (think about stock availability and installation or procedural difficulties that could potentially delay a deal) and keep the client happy during the process of closing. Weaker members might promise too much, be in the dark about procedures or show their insecurity in a way that makes a potential client think twice about signing that final quote. In other words, strong salespeople don’t manage crises, they manage people to get what they want. This is exactly the kind of confidence and successful behaviour weaker salespeople can use to up their game.

What would motivate the strong and the weak to work together?
Keep in mind that managing people’s emotions becomes crucial when you openly identify strengths and weaknesses. This involves, amongst other things, creating a healthy and cooperative environment. In other words, an environment that praises milestones reached, no matter how small they might seem in the bigger picture. If you only focus on competition in sales, and you do this without balancing the environment around this competition, you risk individuals fighting each other for the top spot. And when salespeople become desperate, they resort to tactics that could potentially damage the team and even your company’s good name.

We therefore end today’s article with ideas on how to build a united team:

  •  Top salespeople should display a willingness and certain enthusiasm to learn small things with the rest of the team.
  • Incentives for the team are a good way of motivating individuals to support each other.
  • Build respect amongst team members by encouraging a trade of skills. For example, some people have excellent communication skills whereas others have excellent computer skills. Let them learn from each other.
  • Create competition that is healthy. In other words, rewards should be uplifting, and critique should be offered with support.
  • Don’t use labels such as “bad” or “weak” to describe individuals.
  • Don’t use numbers to indicate progress, use a slider that also moves for the entire team when a small milestone by an individual is reached.

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