As we approach the end of April, now is an ideal time to take a look and see where you are against your yearly targets. Very often, many companies will look to do a mid-year sales or business meeting which they use to update everyone on progress being made for the year. These events also act as a good motivation for everyone to have a strong 2nd half of the year.
But these events can often fail to hit the mark because of one key mistake that I see so many sales leaders make.
Typically these events make the focus all about the business. Nothing else seems to matter bar where the team is against its targets, what has been achieved and what is being done to get better results.
It’s vital to have a focus on numbers of course – these events can be expensive and so they need to be targeted at communicating key priorities.
If you solely focus on just ‘business’ then the impact that the event will have is reduced.
Getting growth and success to happen requires people to feel valued and special. It needs them to really buy into what you are trying to achieve and to want to run through a brick wall for you and the company.
How do you get them to do that?
Focus on them as a person.
Make time in the schedule to spend time with them individually and find out more about them, their life and what is going on in their world.
I have run numerous sales teams over the years and early in my career, I would ignore this basic element of human behaviour and it cost me. I had this ‘they have a job and are well-paid mentality’ but then I finally realised how good leaders operate and things started to change.
Good leaders understand the importance of the ‘human dynamic’ and building really good people relationships. They ask those in their team questions about their life. Being careful not to pry, they dig into more details about family, loved ones, hobbies and interests.
They don’t just gather superficial details, they really spend time getting to know and understand the other person, who they are and what they want to achieve. They build relationships with their team as they build client sales relationships and the return they get from this time investment bears fruit. Not initially, but over time and especially if they then use the knowledge they have gained in subsequent conversations with the person.
‘How is your little girl Charlotte getting on, did she do well in the school play that she was in’?
‘I saw that Leicester City won the other day. Are you feeling more comfortable about staying in the league now?
‘How was the Salsa dance class? Did you and your partner enjoy it’?
Simple phrases like this can mean the world to your salesperson. It shows them that you have actually listened to what they told you and that you care about them and their life.
Asking questions such as:
- Tell me more about you and the hobbies you have; or
- You mentioned you have been married for 3 years. Tell me more about your wife and family – what do they do themselves?
When people start to share information about themselves then don’t gloss over those points or use them to talk about how you have done something similar. Probe with empathy.
‘Ah that sounds interesting, how long have you been doing that?’ or ‘Wow, that sounds like an interesting job. Have they been in that industry for long?
Within these conversations, you may get to hear about some challenges they are going through at home or with loved ones and these insights can help you to help them in their role.
Very often, salespeople don’t want failure or stressful times. They may just be struggling with an issue at home or a personal challenge.
Business leaders that ignore these signs and just continue to heap pressure on others without understanding their world, very rarely get the results they want.
And if they do, it occurs in spite of them and not because of them. ‘Stuff them, they don’t care about me, I will prove them wrong’ is a phrase I have heard countless times. They achieve results on their terms, not yours. When this happens, it’s a dangerous place for a sales leader to be in.
To build a strong sales culture and achieve consistent results, you must have a team that is firing on all cylinders and for them to be firing properly, they need to feel happy in their personal life and loved and valued at work.
When the salesperson BELIEVES their boss cares about them, they give more. It may only be a few % extra but that extra belief can sometimes be the small confidence trick they need to win a prospect over or do that extra call. And as we all know, the small details matter.
So, If you are planning to do a meeting like this then I would strongly urge that you make some time in the schedule to spend time with people in your team on a 121 basis. Make it an important part of the event. Tell those attending that you want to get to know them more and understand their personal goals and plans.
Make time for them. It may feel easier to spend time talking about new services, company strategy and giving sales presentations but this time is critical. Seek first to understand before being understood.
Become a sales leader who cares and watch as the results and growth start to happen!