If you are a front line sales manager looking for ways to be a more effective coach, you need to get to root cause to better understand the underlying motives and factors that prevent you from becoming more fully the person and sales manager you can be.
You may have to go somewhere you have not before been. You’ll need to be vulnerable. You’ll need to trust the process.
Most of all you have to learn to confront your blindspots.
Before I explain what a blindspot is let me suggest that there’s something generally accepted, fundamental, and even pivotal to your salespeople achieving quota year after year. They’re more likely to hit that quota when they are motivated to sell for you. And they’re more likely to be motivated if you make emotional connections with them.
As it is with people in general you’ve probably found it easier to make an emotional connection with some salespeople. The conversations with them seem to naturally flow. The coaching you give seems to be more easily received. For these people you seem to know what to say and how to say it to get the response you want. There’s a connection.
Making an emotional connection with other sales people doesn’t effortlessly come. Maybe they repeat the same behaviors that you’re constantly trying to change. They repeat the habits you’re trying to break. This frustrates you. It might drive you crazy.
The problem is your blindspots are out to sabotage your ability to create emotional connections, build relationships with your salespeople and motivate them to succeed.
So, what exactly is a blindspot?
Blindspots are unflattering behavior that you don’t know you do that prevent you from emotionally connecting with your salespeople. Blindspots can also be unflattering behavior that you are aware of doing but you just can’t stop from doing it.
Here’s an example.
Urban Meyer, the head football coach for Ohio State, unwittingly confessed to a blindspot. In the wake of a personnel crisis in 2018 that became a PR disaster involving one his assistant coaches, and that resulted in a 3 game suspension for Meyer, he was asked in a press conference the day before his first game back from the suspension, if he thought members of his staff were reluctant to bring him negative information, such as information that contributed to the crisis. He said he hoped not, but then added “That’s something that (athletic director) Gene (Smith) and I have talked about that I need to do. I always thought I had that atmosphere,” he said. Meaning, he was unaware that his super intense, intimidating demeanor could actually keep people from coming to him with potential problems. Classic blindspot.
What do blindspots look like for sales managers? One is being judgmental toward a salesperson. If you’ve ever struggled managing a salesperson who is a lot NOT like you, you’ve likely shown some judgment toward this person. If she doesn’t work the territory like you would, or if she has a very different personality than you have, you might show signs of judgment. Or let’s say you think you always have the right answer for something. You likely don’t have much patience to let your salespeople arrive at their own discovery. Instead you tell them what the deal is and you expect them to get it and move on. When they don’t you are frustrated, even angry inside.
These aren’t healthy attitudes to build a coaching foundation on.
If it makes you feel better, every sales manager has blindspots. The more you can discover and acknowledge yours the closer you’ll be to dealing effectively with them.
Stay tuned. In future blogs I’ll help you do that.
Author of The Funnel Principle
Author of Blindspots: The Hidden Killer of Sales Coaching (due out in Q1 2019)