We were driving on the highway when the dashboard indicated low pressure in the left rear tire. That can't be good! As we exited the highway eight miles later, the tire was flat and we were able to drive another mile to a safe location and call roadside assistance. Until that moment, I wasn't aware that the car did not have a spare tire but was equipped with a tire inflation repair kit instead. Roadside assistance told us that the lack of a spare tire meant the car would be towed to their nearest dealer.
There are typically three possibilities when you have a flat tire:
- Change the tire if you have a spare and know how to do it or have roadside do it for you
- Use the tire inflation repair kit and keep the tire inflated long enough to get to your mechanic
- Get towed.
In my opinion, getting towed is the worst possible option and the last thing we want to deal with and in the waning days of a pandemic, they'll take your car but not you, so that doesn't solve anything. Your car is still broken, you are still stranded, and you are temporarily separated from your beloved vehicle.
When salespeople get into trouble and an opportunity stalls out or goes off the rails, their sales managers are the sales version of roadside assistance. In the context of a sales opportunity, there are typically three possibilities:
- Change the tire - put another salesperson on the opportunity
- Repair the tire - the salesperson does enough damage control to keep the opportunity alive until they can get coaching from their sales manager
- Call Roadside and the sales manager calls or shows up to get the opportunity back on track if possible
If you agree that a tow would be your last possible option, then it should follow that a rescue from a sales manager would be equally bad. The prospect loses respect for the salesperson and will only speak with the sales manager after the rescue. Salespeople learn to lean on and use their sales managers as crutches, salespeople never become strong enough to handle these situations on their own, and sales managers fail to develop strong teams.
According to Objective Management Group (OMG) and their assessments on more than two million salespeople, sales managers and sales leaders, only 18% of all sales managers are well-suited for the role and only 7% are actually good at coaching. We know from this article on being an underdog in sales that the bottom half of all salespeople totally suck.
When you combine those three pathetic data points, there are a few insights that pop to the surface.
Most sales managers are a lot better at selling than they are at managing and coaching and are at their best when salespeople call for roadside assistance. That explains their universal desire to accept those calls without pushing back, coaching and challenging their salespeople to do better. Salespeople improve when they have no choice but to improve!
Most sales managers actually believe it's their job to be the hero and that is one of the biggest impediments to developing strong salespeople.
There are far more salespeople whose opportunities go off the rails and need help but who end up following one of three even worse scenarios than calling their sales managers:
- At the time, they lacked the situational awareness to realize the opportunity went sideways on them so they follow up as if nothing bad happened.
- They realized the opportunity was going sideways but chose to use the tire repair kit instead of calling for roadside assistance
- They knew it went sideways but lacked the commitment to call for roadside or use the tire repair kit and simply gave up.
These scenarios play out every day, on every sales team, at every company, all over the world. Isn't it time to raise the bar on both sales mangers and salespeople, train them up, coach them up, and stop accepting so much mediocrity?
Join me on October 26 for a free 45-minute introduction to Baseline Selling and learn how to avoid the mistakes that most salespeople make, shorten your sales cycle, differentiate from the competition, and improve your win rate. Register here.
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