by Tina Cherpes, Featured Contributor
Q. AS A sales rep I enjoyed a great deal of autonomy. I rarely sought the advice or counsel of my sales manager and did so only when it became absolutely necessary. Having been recently promoted to a sales management position, I am unpleasantly surprised by the level of interaction my sales reps seem to require of me. I find myself tuning them out more and more and I’m growing increasingly frustrated by what I see as incessant neediness. I’m beginning to think I’m not cut out for this type of position.
A. You may or may not be; yet as it relates to actionable steps you can take now, you may want to consider the following:
Are your sales reps consistently meeting or exceeding their sales goals?
If the answer is yes, consider that their need for heightened levels of interaction with you could be an effect of boredom (perhaps they’re not being adequately challenged) or recognition (not receiving adequate appreciation/ acknowledgement from you for their past or present contribution). Once the motivation or origin is identified, you can begin to make the necessary adjustments and start exercising more influence and control over future interactions.
If the answer is no, you have an opportunity to begin structuring any and all future dialogue around a singular issue – helping your team build the skill-set they need to be successful. Virtually every conversation you have with your team from this point forward can be framed exclusively around their professional development. Yes, you’ll undoubtedly wade through some HR issues along the way yet you’ll learn to demonstrate, by example, an unyielding commitment to the team’s collective success and establish an accepted discipline and structure to frame future interactions.
Are your listening skills where you want them to be?
Each of us filters the information we receive through our past experiences, prejudices, values, beliefs, and assumptions which collectively create our personal opinions and biases. Like many other skills, active listening is learned. We can dramatically improve our listening skills by learning to willfully suspend (at least temporarily) our personal biases in an effort to understand the intended message being offered.
From a sales perspective, active listening means we’re engaged in a process – we’re deliberately and intentionally listening to glean the insight that will allow us to align our goals and objectives with those of our buyer. Whether we define our buyer as a client, an employee, or a spouse, the purpose of the alignment is to influence behavior to a specific and desired outcome. If you are dissatisfied with the current outcome, it may help to seek greater alignment.
Enjoy the journey; you may discover that the joy of leading others can be equally as powerful as the joy of autonomy.