When You Inherit a Sales Team

Written by Vicki Lauter on . Posted in Developing Employees, Retaining Employees

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I get several calls a week from sales managers, other department leaders and execs about how some of their employees balk at any change they try to introduce to their teams. The initiatives these leaders are trying to introduce range from implementing new technology for the team to use in their jobs to passive aggressive, sabotage behavior with other team members.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that technology has changed jobs by leaps and bounds, most for the good of the individual and company. One sales manager who is relatively new in the job and happens to be younger than some of the tenured sales people, tells me during our call, that his sales team already uses a CRM system to track customers, leads and projects. However, several of the long time sales people, won’t use it or are inconsistent in their use. I get it, most sales people don’t want to spend their time doing anything but meeting with and selling customers. However, several other sales people are using the technology without any back talk. I could tell during our conversation, the sales manager is feeling very frustrated with these tenured sales people.

You don’t know what you don’t know

Unless your company is using an independently validated sales assessment you don’t really know that much about your sales team. Sure you know some basic information but you don’t know what motivates them to behave the way they do and if you just happen to have inherited the sales team, you don’t really know what sales skills or acumen they actually possess. Without this information, my friend you are like a blind hog trying to find an acorn or just shooting in the dark (you get the point)

Follow the yellow brick road

Just like Dorothy you have to start at the beginning of the yellow brick road before you can make it to the Emerald City. The first step I recommended to the sales manager is that he and his sales team take the validated sales assessment we use with all our clients.

Once everyone completed the assessment we knew immediately why these tenured sales people were not doing what was required of the updated sales job. The next course of action was to have an initial discussion with the sales manager and explain the sales teams’ results. During the conversation I coached the sales manager on his results; motivators and behaviors and each individual’s motivators and behaviors, acumen and sales skills. I then recommended the sales manager implement the ‘3 Question Session’ weekly with his sales team in order to get them to do their (now expanded) sales job. While it’s taken several coaching calls with the sales manager, his team is clearly back on track and making progress. They haven’t made it to the Emerald City but they are at least headed in the right direction.

When to cut bait

An unfortunate reality is sometimes job duties change and expand or contract. If job duties expand but the individual does not have the ability to do the job, consider moving them to another role in the organization where they are a better match.  If there isn’t another place for them in the company, you may have to cut them loose.

What I see happen more often is that managers spend the bulk of their time coaching less than stellar employees, while their star performers get short shrift. At some point you have to stop trying to revive your walking dead and start putting time and effort into your star performers before they hit their yellow brick road in search for their own Emerald City.

If you’ve inherited a team and want to know how to connect with them on a deeper level we have resources that can help you. Contact us for a free strategy session to get started.

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