My guest on this week's episode of Meet the Sales Experts was Phil Harris, Worldwide VP of Sales for Akibia. We covered many areas of Sales Leadership that fall under the direction of someone in Phil's role including cultural issues, competition among sales managers, and getting an entire sales force to change. I chose to discuss the balance sales leaders must have between sharing, mandating and asking. Sounds simple.
MANDATING - this sounds easy. The key to mandating is what, when and how to mandate. It's important to start with WHEN. You mandate when your sales managers or salespeople aren't doing what you have ASKED them to do. You mandate WHATever it is that they aren't doing voluntarily. And HOW you mandate is to use my four step hierarchy of sales coaching and accountability to change salespeople's behavior and my 10 Rules for Getting Salespeople to Follow the Sales Process. These days, one of the most common sales leadership issues is CRM compliance - getting the salespeople to maintain current account/opportunity information.
SHARING - this sounds even simpler! The key to sharing - your expertise, coaching, stories, ideas, suggestions, experiences, wisdom, thoughts, feelings or wishes - with your sales managers and salespeople is to have a strong relationship built on trust, respect and credibility before your sharing will have the desired impact. Sharing must also be unconditional. It's OK to share because you want to help. It's not OK to share because you think you'll get something back in return. It's great when you do get something back but you simply cannot share with those expectations.
ASKING - This should be the default for all things Sales Leadership. Always ask - nicely, respectfully, and clearly - and get feedback on how they will go about doing what you asked, when you can expect completion, and what you can do to help. Asking can take multiple forms - from simple questions (would you please?), to challenges (can you handle it?), to loss of faith (I'm not sure you can do this).
Sales Managers can use the same balance with their salespeople and salespeople can use the same balance with their prospects, customers and clients. Mandating to customers? Sure. At some point in the process you probably assign some kind of homework (Can you send me this? Can you find me that?) When they don't do it after you've nicely asked, you simply mandate (John, I won't be able to meet the time line if you don't provide me with that list of names and email addresses today).
Since this sounds so simple and doable, why do so many in sales management have so much difficulty with this balance?