Jack Welch has been voted one of the most influential managers of the twentieth century, and the effects of his style is still being felt today.
He was the CEO of General Electric (GE) from 1982 till 2001. To start evaluating his managers, Jack implemented a system of measuring performance based on characteristics that ‘graded’ them against certain criteria.
The criteria he chose were interesting in that they were different from the normal distribution of measurements within business settings. They became known as the 4 ‘E’ and 1 ‘P’ concepts, and we can compare them now to ascertain whether they are still effective in today’s critical sales world.
The first ‘E’ referred to ‘Energy’. High personal energy displayed by the sales manager is vital if their team is to follow the example. The team follow the example set by the manager, and if the energy levels are low, the lethargy is shared among the team. You need to display a hard-working attitude, yes, but the visible energy exuded at the personal level is more important to help the team keep their motivation, spirit and drive at a high level.
The second ‘E’ is related to the fact that you need to ‘Energise others‘. Naturally, you can’t do this if you don’t show energy yourself, so it’s imperative that you set the lead and example. This creates momentum for the effect of energising others to be put into place.
The third ‘E’ refers to what Welch called ‘the Edge‘. This was defined as the taking tough decisions without flinching, understanding what needed to be done and when. He recommended that, when decisions needed to be made, they were considered, determined and then acted upon. Managers who have the edge show their teams what need to be done and actively get on with them.
The fourth ‘E’ drove people to the top of the pile. Welch referred to it as ‘Execution‘ and considered it to be the most important of the four, or at least the catalyst for the other three to be effective. It requires a manager to be proactive, identifying where things are going wrong and formulating plans before they have an impact on results. The Execution manager recognises how he or she should take ownership of the matter before they have to make excuses for failure.
And the ‘P’ stood for ‘Passion’. Welch referred to having passion as the essential quality that kept the four ‘E’s working well. Without the drive, the motivation, the passion for excellence, managers fall at the first obstacle.
So, there you have the five key components that Welch stated were needed for top performing sales managers. I don’t believe anything has changed since his day and recommened we all follow that advice.
Before I sign off, here are some more tips on becoming a great sales person:
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Every sales manager, supervisor, director or otherwise frontline sales team leader, wants to have and develop a great sales force. Everyone wants eventually to have a sales team made up of superstar sales people. We all want that sales crew in where every sales person is a high-level, top performing, consultative, executive-level super sales person.
However, I am continually surprised at how many of those same sales managers are not willing to treat their sales crew like that which they want them to become. The fact is that if you treat sales people as if they are low-level, slipshod, unprofessional slackers, what you will get is the same.
At some point, you have to “Act as if.” You have to treat people as you want them to perform. If you want responsible, successful, multi-million pound producers, don’t treat them like irresponsible, £5 an hour, children.
Here are a few tips to help you plant good seed to reap great harvest.
Start by trusting your sales people to do what they say they will do and believe that they will. On one hand, you say you believe in the sales person. You say you have confidence that he or she can achieve the agreed upon goals. Then, you stand watch like a mother hen, or establish rules and regulations that clearly demonstrate that you do NOT trust or believe in the sales person. When you do this, you can easily stifle their potential. If you say you believe, then act accordingly.
Pressure and Time
If you tell the sales person, you truly believe that he or she can achieve a particular goal before the end of the month, then don’t start jumping on his or her back after the first week. You may think you are helping to “remind” the sales person of their goal and commitment.
However, what you are really saying is, “I really don’t believe you can do this, and I must therefore keep reminding you of your commitment every 15 minutes.”
Such micromanagement of good sales people will cause animosity and an anti-productive atmosphere.
To Manage or Not To Manage
Some successful sales people become such due to their sales management. However, some sales people become successful in spite of their sales management. Do not be the latter manager.
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You can find a ton of tips and tricks on what to do to motivate and build a sales team. However, there are a few things you should not do. The loyalty and dedication your sales team has in following you, is fragile and it does not take much to lose their respect. Below are three sales management blunders that you must avoid.
#1. Criticise in Public
There are often times when you need to criticise or correct a sales person’s actions. Perhaps he or she needs improvement in certain areas or is not living up to the potential you know is possible. Maybe there are disciplinary steps you need to take.
In any case, these are things you must do in private. Never bring up a sales person’s shortcomings or problems in front of the group. Not only does this embarrass and degrade the sales person in question, but it also diminishes the self-esteem of the whole team.
#2. Causally Dismiss Complaints or Suggestions
It is true that some sales people can find some of the most ridiculous things to complain about. Also, some ideas and suggestions from team members are often unrealistic or impossible to consider. However, you must take in and listen to their thoughts and feelings.
A sales person sits up half the night thinking about an idea that he believes will help the team. He brings it to you and before he can even explain his flash of brilliance, you cut him off with something like, “Nah! That won’t work. We tried that years ago…forget it.” When this happens, you not only invalidate the idea; you invalidate the person.
You must at least listen and hear them out. Then, do not be so quick to respond, even if you know the complaint or suggestion is of no consequence. Take it in and think about it anyway. Then report back at a later time.
#3. Never Demand the Team Accomplish Goals You Can Not Substantiate
Be careful not to ask sales people to perform tasks or reach sales goals that you cannot do or have not ever done. At least have someone who you can point to who has reached these goals. Of course, there are times when you want to reach higher, set new records and reach heights never before obtained, but you have to be able to show that these things are possible and not just chalk talk.
Give your sales team the respect they deserve and they will give it back.
The UK’s #1 Authority On Modern Day Selling
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Sales incentive contents can be a positive force to help motivate your sales people to new levels of productivity and loyalty. Alternatively, poorly constructed or inequitable sales challenges can result in anti-productive activity, resentment and rebellion.
Below is a powerful idea for sales incentive programs that you can alter to fit your organisation, that will inspire your team and boost your sales revenue!
Beat the Boss
This is an extremely effective sales challenge that will not only motivate, but will help solve many other sales management problems as well. Have a week, or month in where the field sales manager, that immediate supervising coach; gets out in the field, on the telephone and in the trenches just as the rest of the sales crew…full time. If needed, construct a method to assign a handicap to the manager or the team to level the playing field.
The sales manager competes directly with the sales team, who individually try to out-sell the manager. Of course, the sales people who sell more than the manager does, wins a great prize. However, no matter what the prize, it will never compare to the pride and bragging rights the sales person will gain and keep for life!
This also helps to ensure that first-level sales managers stay in touch with reality and do not become armchair executives. Should the manager lose, he or she actually wins, as sales people produce well above their normal levels, attempting to win. Should the manager win, he or she now has proof in the coaching and training they provide, and this will positively change the way the sales team performs over the long-term.
Lead By Example
One of the main problems front-line sales managers have is that they usually do not demonstrate to the team that they can actually do what they teach and demand of the sales people. Sales people are human and you cannot expect them to take everything completely on faith.
Often, when that supervisor demands, “You can and must make ten sales every week,” some sales people are thinking, “Oh yeah? Well if it’s so easy, let’s see you do it!”
To infuse real motivation and create a situation of true leadership, sales people need to see the techniques and tips they are taught actually work in real life, rather than just on chalk. The front-line sales manager must be the field general and be able to lead the team by example.
Have a beat-the boss-week or a meet-the-manager-in-the-field-month, and motivate your sales teams to the next level!
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The old adage, “It is not what you say, but how you say it,” is true and valid. In today’s business environment, the wrong words or tone of those words can cause misunderstanding and resentment. As today’s buyers are more educated and sophisticated, sales management must realize that today’s sales people have evolved as well.
You Said One Thing, They Heard Something Else
When communicating with sales people it is very easy to belittle or disrespect them inadvertently. Your goal was to inspire and motivate; however, the conversation seems to have had the opposite effect and proved counterproductive. When this happens, it is often because although your words may have been uplifting, the message the sales person received was not.
Below are three effective techniques to help you communicate more effectively and positively with today’s modern sales professional.
#1 – Act As if You Have Never Heard “IT” Before
A member of your sales team comes to you with a question or problem that you have not only heard a thousand times, but have also answered repeatedly. In addition, the answer to this problem is on page six of your training manual!
Your first thought is, “What is wrong with this person?” However, you maintain your professionalism and quickly blurt out the answer, which is the mistake. In such a situation, you need to exercise a little more patience and give the question legitimacy and importance.
Should you quickly blurt out the answer, you minimize the importance of the question, which could be one of the reasons why sales people cannot seem to remember it. Likewise, should you abruptly command the sales person go read the training manual, you also belittle the sales person. Instead, lend value to the question and simultaneously uplift the sales person.
“You know Steve that is an important question. In fact, if you are not solid on how to handle that issue, it is sure to cause you problems in the field. Let’s do this to make sure we get you over this problem: We have dedicated a few pages to this issue in the training manual. Go over that material—study it. Then come back to me and we will make sure you are really clear on it, ok?”
#2 – Can You Help Me?
You can give commands and issue threats all day long. However, you will find that people are much more inclined to help you than run errands for you. You may have tedious tasks for someone or you may need to improve processes in a particular area of the sales process. In either case, instead of commanding or demanding improvement, ask for help.
“Listen Claire, your team has to get sales up this quarter. You have three new people assigned to you, and they have not been pulling their weight. You have to get them on target right now or I have to let them go.”
“Claire, I wonder if you can help me? We have a real problem. We must raise production this quarter, it is critical. Would you spend some more time with those three new people? We need to get them up to quota, quickly. Work with them, and let me know what you think. I need to decide what to do with them and I need your help.”
#3 – Make it a Sales Training Session Rather than Pointing the Finger
You find you have a sales person who is making a critical error in the field. It is costing them and consequently you a ton of money and lost sales. You must correct the problem, yet try to keep things positive. How can you correct a negative without bringing up the negative issue?
Instead of singling out that sales person and teaching or correcting in a one-on-one fashion, or pointing to the sales person as the one who is doing wrong in front of the group; make the issue a sales training topic.
First, it is likely that others are making this same mistake. Secondly, for those not having a problem with the issue, it still cannot hurt for them to hear it again. Bring the topic up as a positive and train everyone on the issue. If possible, have sales people demonstrate the issue during the sales training, including the sales person in question.
With this approach, you correct the problem without communicating a negative message. Also, the sales person in question does not feel embarrassed. Instead, he or she feels grateful for your incredibly on-time training sessions!
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