Are you protecting your sales team from failure or disappointment so they won't get discouraged…
Wow! I just re-read an incredible article on managing in a way that frees up more of your time. It’s titled MacGregor. It’s a research paper on management that is written in a nice story format. The story is of a manager named MacGregor, who’s mastered his role in managing others that has resulted in the following:
- He only has one scheduled meeting a week of two hours with his subordinates
- His phone rarely rings and if it does he always has time to talk
- His schedule is so open that he can meet with anyone without an appointment
- His subordinates are often selected for promotions to run their own operation
- He has respect at all levels of the company for his results and approach
- His golf score has improved and can play as often as he likes
- He’s making fewer decisions than he ever has in his management career
He is my HERO!
Sales Management can be the same as it is for MacGregor. If you’re managing a sales team, they can produce more than they are now without a greater time commitment from you. I’ve laid out the framework in the Free Report: How To Build a Dynamic Sales Team which you can download. Adding a few golden nuggets from the MacGregor research paper to the free download can take your management approach to an all-time high.
Here are four key points I found in the research paper.
Let People Make Decisions That Are Their Responsibility
The most powerful principle MacGregor does not compromise on is to not make decisions that are someone else’s job to make. He understands he is ultimately responsible for the right answer to every problem, but not for formulating it’s solution. To get involved in your teams responsibilities is to assume part of the burden that is appropriately theirs’. If you do, you will create a dependency on your “expertise” and “knowledge” as the source of all answers. When you teach others to solve problems and use other resources to find their answers, they can become as wise or wiser than you and can do a much better job.
Here is an excerpt from the MacGregor research paper. The interview went like this:
MACGREGOR’S MODUS OPERANDI
“Do you hold regular meetings with your subordinates?” I asked.
“Yes, I do,” he replied.
“How often?” I asked.
“Once a week, on Thursdays, between 10:00 a.m. and noon; that’s why I couldn’t see you then,” was his response.
“What sorts of things do you discuss?” I queried, following my interview guide.
“My subordinates tell me about the decisions they’ve made during the past week,” he explained.
“Then you believe in participative decision making,” I commented.
“No–as a matter of fact, I don’t,” said MacGregor.
“Then why hold the meetings?” I asked. “Why not just tell your people about the operating decisions you’ve made and let them know how to carry them out?”
“Oh, I don’t make their decisions for them and I just don’t believe in participating in the decisions they should be making, either. We hold the weekly meeting so that I can keep informed on what they’re doing and how. The meeting also gives me a chance to appraise their technical and managerial abilities,” he explained. “I used to make all the operating decisions myself, but I quit doing that a few years ago when I discovered my golf game was going to hell because I didn’t have enough time to practice. Now that I’ve quit making other people’s decisions, my game is back where it should be.”
Allow for Ownership of Performance Metrics
MacGregor didn’t assign performance metrics, he had his managers come up with them. This exercise was not taken lightly and there was discussion with any unreasonable goals that were too high or too low. Reasonable give and take was considered if a well-founded reason was presented. How someone achieved their goals was again, left up to them. Producing results were his subordinates responsibilities so the decisions on how to accomplish their goals were theirs.
You can do the same with sales people. Ownership or Management needs to communicate clearly on what the company goals are, then allow the team to figure out how they will get you there.
Expect Solution Oriented Conversations
Mid week MacGregor would have production reports generated related to the metrics his team members had agreed to. If they were behind, they would simply report on the decision they made to fix the shortfall. There is no meeting required, discussion or motivation needed. Each team member reads their report and if behind, understands their job is to come up with a workable solution and report on it.
In order for solution oriented conversations to take place MacGregor needed to provide clear expectations and a reliable scorecard delivered in time to be used for adjustments. By following this lead you can save a lot of time in sales meetings discussing problems and focus more on solutions.
Conduct Meetings That Reinforce Quality Decision Making
MacGregor’s weekly meetings had the same agenda for the most part. Each supervisor would report on the decisions they made during the week, how they came to their decision and who they went to for help. This process allowed MacGregor to evaluate how well his people were coming along with decision making and who was stepping up in helping their peers. He encouraged them to go to each other for help. Occasionally MacGregor had some corporate news to share.
Here is another opportunity for a sales meeting. Rather than discussing possible selling scenarios, review the score card and have each sales rep report on the decisions they made and why to stay on track. Encourage them to help each other and notice who everyone is going to more frequently. This could be your next leader.
People Will Rise to Expectations
MacGregors teams rose to his expectations. He believed in them and let them succeed or fail at their job. The agreed upon expectations were non-negotiable. There have been a number of movies made on teachers that have expected more from students only to find that those students met those expectations. It’s not a new concept but one that is often forgotten, by me included. If you set the right standards, processes and systems that support decision making, you can help people grow individually as well as with their performance, and isn’t that just a good thing to do?
If you’re questioning how well you’re doing with sales management at your company take a few minutes and complete the Sales Management Assessment.
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Here are the two links I included earlier in the blog.