Aug 17, 2017

The Little Sales Team That Could


Do you feel sometimes like you’re a hamster running on a wheel and never seeming to be able to get anywhere with your sales team? It’s exhausting, isn’t it? That feeling of not being able to meet your sales goals, let alone exceed them. Sometimes you feel like you’re part of some mad scientist’s experiment. Is there a solution to creating a quota-busting sales team? If so, what is it?

First, let me share with you that I’ve been there, done that. One CEO whom I reported to lived for drama and chaos. The entire company culture always made you feel as though you were two steps behind what needed to be done yesterday. Although the sales team was the income generator of the company, the team was treated as a group of outcasts.

It was in this culture that I took the challenge of leading a sales team who were 50% below quota and had been through a new sales manager about every 6 months for the previous two years. During the interview process, I got a clear picture of how the sales team became low-performing; the goals were always changing and the rules of how to hit the goals were constantly changing, too. The salespeople never really knew how they were doing and if what they were doing was the right way. They were constantly being put under more stress and pressure to perform with threats of termination made regularly.

This chaos and confusion were being driven by the CEO and his second-in-command. My predecessors had acted on every whim of theirs. Before accepting the position, I told them I needed total control over the sales team and their performance, and without interference. They agreed, with the stipulation that the results would determine my length of time with the company.

After my second month with the company, I had created consistency for the sales team and they were already hitting 100% of the quota they had previously been at 50% below. After the fourth month, we hit double the quota. By the end of the fifth month, we had hit five times quota!

How did this extraordinary increase in performance happen so quickly? And, how did my sales team become the only department in the company that wasn’t “two steps behind what needed to be done yesterday”?

Turning work into a game

If you think I mean having fun by that, I do. But, much more than that. When you think of any sport, they have these commonalities:
1) The players always know where the goal is
2) The players know what the rules are before they begin the game
3) The players know where all the boundaries are located
4) The players know what must be done to win

This is what I did for this sales team that was thought to be made up of low-performers. Once they understood that their sales goals were stable and the rules would remain consistent, they felt a sense of confidence that they had a chance to “win”.

Additionally, I took the approach of reward versus threaten. For example, at the first sign of the sales team putting forth effort, I rewarded them with something small to me, but significant to them. You see, I had listened to some of the ongoing discussions between the salespeople and found out that they all loved breakfast burritos. So, the morning after I saw this upswing in effort, I brought in breakfast burritos for the entire team. The looks on the faces were those of people who had just won the lottery! More importantly, this small gesture caused them to increase their effort even more. Notice I didn’t wait for an upswing in performance, just the things that are the prelude to it and it paid big dividends!

I also took the stress and pressure off by using my role of a leader as one of support and service instead of that of a taskmaster. Yes, we had goals and deadlines to meet, but, was important to ask, is there a better way to meet or exceed them? Was there a way that we would “win”, and enjoy doing so? You may be wondering, why was answering these questions so important?

Neuroscience shows that people are less innovative, creative, and perform at lower levels when stressed. The mind literally shuts down the cognitive abilities you need for top performance during times of stress in favor of “Survival Mode”, Fight-or-Flight. Is this the paradoxical reaction you want? Of course not! So, why create more stress and shut down the very abilities you want and need?

As my sales team put forth more effort with focus and in new, creative ways, we won! And, we won BIG!!!
This wasn’t all that I did. There are additional things that helped increase this team’s performance that I won’t get into detail for now, such as:

  • Changing the negative self-talk of each salesperson into language of personal power
  • Helping each salesperson discover their Core Identity and align their life with it.
  • Help each salesperson see their true potential and possibilities and applying those in their mind set
  • So, what about you? Do you have a team, sales or otherwise, that you would like to see perform better? Call or email me and we’ll have a chat about how we might work together.

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    +++++++++++++++About Dr. Edward Lewellen++++++++++++++++

    Dr. Edward Lewellen is an expert in creating methodologies for people to learn to use their mind; their beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors, and put them back in control of their lives and become top-producers. He is a Master Executive Coach, leadership and sales expert, and keynote speaker for some of the largest global organizations.

    Author of The 90-Second Mind Manager