Creating Sales Heroes

dan-5The making of the best sales team in the world

So many people spend time tearing down their sales people. Blaming all of their woes, and worries, on the very people who can make or break a company. I once worked for a PCB shop owner who insisted on having a very expensive annual sales meeting, flying in his sales people from all over the country. The for the better part of a week, they would go over the past year’s numbers, examine what went right and what went wrong, and then set the strategy, the forecasts and the goals for the coming year. These were good meetings and like all good and productive sales meetings they would serve to get the troops fired up for the next year. That is fired up, until the owner had his say. Every year, he would insist on being the final speaker of the four-day session, speaking just before everyone was ready to leave to catch their flights home. And then, in the last hour of that very expensive and up to then very productive week he would proceed to berate them, and I mean tear them from limb to limb telling them what a bunch of losers they were. Letting them know that he had a good mind the fire the lot of them right then and there. He would finish his little “inspirational talk” by letting them know that if they did not increase their numbers by at least 30% in the coming year, he would fire the lot of them. “And, yes he really meant it this year!” And with those words ringing in their ears they would pick themselves off the floor, and crawl out of the room, ready to do whatever they could to keep from being fired in the coming year.

The interesting thing was that this was a great sales team, a team that increased the company’s sales by almost twenty percent a year. They were a great bunch of professional sales people and alas as you can guess they all eventually left for greener or shall we say kinder pastures.

What was the point? Why did the owner have to act this way? There was no good reason, except that he was the owner and he could. In the end we all left, and he eventually went out of business. And of course, the reason he went out of business, he told people when they asked was because “he could never find any sales people who were worth a damn!”

Again, I ask, what was the point?  A great owner, a great sales manager, needs to be first and foremost a great motivator.  Even when as a manager you don’t have a great sales team to work with, it is your responsibility to make them great, and the first step in doing this is to make them feel like they are indeed great.

Here are a few tips on how you can create the best sales team in the world.

Treat them like they are great already. If people feel they are great, they will be. If you as a manager don’t feel your team is great…change the players. Your job is to always field a great team.

Treat them with respect. There is never any advantage to disrespecting people. Do not do it.

Challenge them to do things they cannot believe they can do, and then show them how to do them. Show them how to do the impossible. The more wins they have under their belts, the stronger sales people they will be, and the more confident they will feel to take on more challenges.

Create small wins that lead to bigger wins, this way making them winners. You have to start small.  Celebrate all the wins big and small, show them how they can become winners.

Give them full credit for their successes.  It’s all about them as a team, not about you. as their manager. Give them all the credit to remember the saying, “It’s amazing what you can get done, if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

Get them to where they will think for themselves. It is always better to learn something on the way to winning, and actually and more importantly on the way to losing. Showing your team how to bounce back from losing a contract is the sign of a true leader.

Make them believe they are in the movie of their lives. This is important. They will never catch a pass from Tom Brady, the will never win the U.S. Open Tennis championship, forty thousand people are not going to watch them close a deal. But they are the stars of the movies of their lives. Show them how to take advantage of this vision.

And finally have fun. Learning is fun, good work is fun, a plan coming together is fun, teamwork is fun and most of all winning and surpassing a forecast is a blast! It’s only common sense.