It’s the People, Stupid: Building Excellence in Sales Leadership

It's the people

It’s the People, Stupid: Building Excellence in Sales Leadership

The Sales Leadership Awakening Podcast
The Sales Leadership Awakening Podcast
It's the People, Stupid: Building Excellence in Sales Leadership
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Colleen Stanley and Steven Rosen from the Sales Leadership Awakening podcast discuss how building excellence in sales leadership starts with having the right team. Sales leaders must be willing to make tough decisions about non-performers and proactively recruit top talent. Developing the necessary soft skills, such as coachability and resiliency, is crucial for success in a fast-changing sales environment. Evaluating the skills needed for future success and providing ongoing coaching and training are essential for building a high-performing sales team. By taking action and focusing on the people, sales leaders can set their teams up for a blockbuster sales year.

“The world is moving faster. And so if you’re not developing your team’s resiliency skills, you’re going to fall behind.” – Colleen Stanley

“The closer we are to people, the harder it is to make those tough calls on non-performers.” – Steven Rosen

As the sales landscape evolves, sales leaders must adapt and ensure their teams have the skills and mindset needed to succeed. By staying proactive, continuously learning, and embracing change, sales leaders can navigate the challenges of the future and drive excellence in their organizations.

Follow Colleen Stanley on LinkedIn

Follow Steven Rosen on LinkedIn

[Transcript]

Introduction to the Sales Leadership Awakening Podcast

[00:00:00] Colleen Stanley: Hi, everyone, and welcome to the Sales Leadership Awakening Podcast. I’m Colleen Stanley, and I’m here with my co-host, Steven Rosen. We’re going to tackle that age-old challenge of bridging the knowing and doing gap in sales leadership. And this month, we’ll be focused on building excellence.

[00:00:22] Colleen Stanley: And really, it’s how to have a blockbuster sales year versus what we’d call a lackluster sales year. So, Steven, I’m going to kick the conversation ball over to you to get this started. How do we get a year set up for excellence?

[00:00:38] Steven Rosen: Well, Colleen, the first place we’re going to start is it’s the people, stupid, where we confront the critical issue facing many sales leaders of evaluating if you have the right team to start the new year to have a strong year.

[00:00:48] Steven Rosen: We’ll examine why sales leaders hesitate to address non-performers, the essential skills your team is missing, and the tough decisions regarding when to cut those poor performers off.

[00:01:07] Steven Rosen: Colleen, what are your thoughts?

The Challenge of Letting Go of Non-Performers

[00:01:09] Colleen Stanley: This is interesting because you and I have both been in sales management. So, we will admit right off the bat that we are not perfect. We’ve made some of these mistakes. And one of our goals is to help other leaders avoid those.

[00:01:21] Colleen Stanley: So here’s a mistake I’ve made. I have hung on to non-performers too long. When you asked me the question, would you hire him again? I’d say no. Well, then, why was I hanging on to him? So, from your perspective, why do sales leaders hang on to non-performers too long?

[00:01:37] Steven Rosen: Well, there are many reasons.

[00:01:40] Steven Rosen: And that’s the elephant in the room we want to address on our inaugural podcast. The fact is, we all do that. And the closer we are to people, the harder it is to make those tough calls. When you’re at a level of being truly removed, it’s like, okay. This person’s not performing.

[00:01:57] Steven Rosen: It’s more of a paper issue as opposed to having to deal with the individual.

[00:02:02] Colleen Stanley: But wait a minute, you have to stop there. So it’s a paper issue. And when you’re close to him, it’s a people issue. That’s a really good distinction.

[00:02:12] Steven Rosen: So, and I’ve always said, the higher up you are, the easier it is to make those decisions because you’re not close to the people.

[00:02:19] Steven Rosen: Sometimes leaders have trouble addressing their leadership team because they have a relationship. So certainly, that’s part of it. Sometimes, the challenge is you’ve just gotten through a difficult year. You’re going on to the next year, but you have people who haven’t performed.

[00:02:34] Steven Rosen: And now, in my opinion, the ideal time to start looking at your team, just like any sports team, is at the beginning of the year or starting a new season. Do you have the right people? Do they have the right skills? And the beautiful thing is you have a year’s worth of performance to look at. You’ve had a year’s worth of discussions.

[00:02:53] Steven Rosen: So even though we’re starting a new year, it’s a great time to review and decide if you have the right people on the bus and if they are in the right positions. So those are some of the reasons. What soft skills should be cultivated in sales teams to ensure you have a blockbuster year?

The Importance of Coachability in Sales Teams

[00:03:13] Colleen Stanley: So, that’s a big question. And there are a lot of skills you could evaluate here. There is one question that I would encourage every sales leader who’s listening or watching today to include in your evaluation. There could be qualitative data and quantitative data to support this.

[00:03:29] Colleen Stanley: But the question is, are you coachable? It’s a great question. I recently read a book titled The Trillion Dollar Coach, and it was about Bill Campbell. He coached the likes of all the Silicon Valley Titans. There’s a very funny story where he was getting ready to qualify his next executive coaching client.

[00:03:54] Colleen Stanley: And the gentleman was being a little cocky, and Bill Campbell asked him the question: are you coachable? And the potential candidate, not realizing he was actually being qualified, flippantly said, well, it depends on the coach, and Bill Campbell got up to walk out. It’s such a great story, but think about this.

[00:04:12] Colleen Stanley: If all of us would simply look at that soft skill, and we can unpack that a little bit, and only hire and work with coachable people, how much easier would our jobs be? Now, when you’re looking at coachability, it is the EQ skill of self-regard. That’s this inner confidence to admit your strengths and weaknesses.

The Role of Resiliency in Sales Success

[00:04:33] Colleen Stanley: We’ll all get a little defensive. We’ll get feedback, but if you’re a truly confident person, you will embrace feedback, take it, and use it. So, coachability, or self-regard, is key. One more is resiliency. And I have to tell you, we’ve all said you have to have a thick skin to be in sales, but it’s getting tougher.

[00:04:53] Colleen Stanley: The world is moving faster, so you must develop your team’s resiliency skills, which really involves locus of control. Sometimes, it’s simply controlling what you can control because if you have these people with an external locus of control, they’re always complaining. I have a bad territory. I don’t get enough coaching.

[00:05:11] Colleen Stanley: So you need resilient salespeople. You develop that by teaching your team to focus on what you can control. Quit whining and complaining about things that are totally out of your control. So, coachability is big; resiliency is huge.

The Question of Coachability in Sales Leadership

[00:05:25] Steven Rosen: I’m with you. And I ask the same questions when I take on coaching clients or if a senior sales executive says, can you coach my leadership team?

[00:05:35] Steven Rosen: The first question I ask is, are they coachable? Because as a sales manager, as a coach, you can lead the horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. And if they’re open to coaching, I can help them big time. Absolutely. How open are they and the sales managers? You can ask the question, but in most cases, the sales manager knows the answer. After at least one year with an individual, are they coachable? By coaching someone who’s open, you can help them improve their skill sets.

The Pitfalls of Hyper Responsibility in Sales Leadership

[00:06:03] Colleen Stanley: Yeah, but here’s a blind spot.

[00:06:05] Colleen Stanley: I gained this information from Dr. Henry Cloud, and it will lead to one of the questions I want to ask you today. The book was titled Unnecessary Endings. Steven, have you observed this? What happens is really good sales leaders are hyper-responsible.

[00:06:23] Colleen Stanley: So when somebody is failing, it’s my responsibility. I didn’t give him enough training. I didn’t give him enough coaching. Did you give him enough resources? Now, I started in business in a startup, and you basically got one day of training, and then you were enrolled in the go get them good luck program.

[00:06:40] Colleen Stanley: When I see this hyper responsibility popping up, it is great because they care. But they care a little too much to the point where they’re accepting excuses. So, I don’t know if you’ve observed that behavior with some of the sales leaders you work with.

[00:06:53] Steven Rosen: Oh, 100 percent because many of us feel we can fix people.

[00:06:57] Steven Rosen: Yes. Yes. If only I just did this. I’m going to give them another three months. I’ll coach them. I’ll help them. At the end of the day, in coaching sales managers where they have performance issues or people who just don’t fit their team, I’m very direct.

[00:07:14] Steven Rosen: And usually I’ll ask them, the Stephen Covey approach to the world is begin with the end in mind. Is this the person that should be on your team? And as we kick off a year, 100% we should coach people and help them grow and be better. In most cases, it weighs heavy on us, but we know the answer, and as you said, we sometimes put it on ourselves.

[00:07:37] Steven Rosen: Performance is owned by the individual, not the manager. To me, teaching and coaching managers is about shifting the accountability to the individual and putting it on their shoulders to perform. You can support, coach, and bring resources to the table, but ultimately, it’s up to the individual.

[00:08:04] Steven Rosen: And most salespeople, if you ask them, do you like being an individual contributor? The answer is yes. But are you accountable for delivering on performance? In many cases, the manager takes it upon their shoulders, accepting modest performance and thinking they can fix the individual.

[00:08:22] Steven Rosen: And I think it’s great. They’re caring, as you said. But in most cases, they’re perpetuating a situation or holding onto someone where maybe it’s time to cut the umbilical cord, and it’s up to the individual to perform, not the manager to make excuses. It comes down to who owns their performance and who owns their attitude.

[00:08:44] Steven Rosen: Training is jointly owned where the individual is responsible for their own development, and the manager assumes responsibility. But to me, that’s clearly owned by the individual when it comes to effort and performance. So if it’s not happening, you can bring a horse to water. We ultimately can’t make them drink, and that’s where the coachability comes in.

[00:09:07] Colleen Stanley: You can put in flavoring. You can add, but they’re just not drinking that water. So that’s an interesting self-awareness point for sales leaders. Who is driving the performance? Because I have to tell you, if you take your foot off the gas and the person falls apart, either that person isn’t capable or doesn’t have the buy-in.

The Dilemma of When to Reassign or Let Go of Sales Team Members

[00:09:27] Colleen Stanley: So that’s a great point there, which leads me to my next question. Is there an ideal time to either reassign someone to a different role or simply escort them nicely off of what Jim Collins called to get the right people on the bus? Thoughts on that?

[00:09:45] Colleen Stanley: Is there an idea?

[00:09:46] Steven Rosen: Maybe the best answer is if someone’s not performing, how long do you give them to continue perpetuating that lack of performance? And the beginning of the year, is it an ideal time? Probably. I don’t know. Is there an ideal time? I don’t know. It’s close to the non-performance because you don’t want to hang onto it. You’ve already gone through 2023.

[00:10:09] Steven Rosen: If someone hasn’t performed, you should have acted upon them sooner. You can’t change the past. So, in terms of my thought process, now is probably a good time. If you think of any professional sports team, at the beginning of the year, you assess whether you have the right players to win the championship or to make your numbers.

[00:10:31] Steven Rosen: So in terms of, it’s about the people, it really is about the people. And the first question to kick off any year is, do I have the right people on the bus? And if you don’t and you haven’t made that decision earlier on, well, you can’t change the past. But if you want to have a good year, the longer you wait with non-performers, if you’re sitting on them, you’re doing yourself and your team an injustice. Sorry that I’m being more challenging.

[00:10:57] Steven Rosen: So, as they say, the best time to plant a tree is now. The best time to make those calls and assess is at the beginning of the year. You have maybe some time to think over Christmas, do I have the right people? If not, you’re better off making that change sooner rather than later.

The Importance of Proactive Recruiting in Sales Leadership

[00:11:16] Colleen Stanley: What’s interesting about this is that we know Q4 is hugely important as sales leaders. So you’re actually working on two goals, Q4 goals and Q1. So we’ve got our teams out prospecting. The question I would ask everyone in that sales leadership role is, are you prospecting for top talent? I suspect the reason that they’re holding on to non-performers is the same reason that salespeople hold onto non-qualified prospects.

[00:11:42] Colleen Stanley: You don’t have enough in the pipeline. So, what are your key performance metrics for interviewing people even if you don’t have a seat open? We’ve all heard this before. The curiosity point for me is that we teach our salespeople to prospect consistently, but we’re not doing it as sales leaders.

[00:12:04] Colleen Stanley: Empty sales pipelines lead to desperation. So we’re holding on to non-performers and rationalizing. I suspect that’s behind some of that lack of movement.

[00:12:14] Steven Rosen: I love that point. When I was a sales leader, part of my commitment was that I could ramp up in three months and have double the size of my team.

[00:12:23] Steven Rosen: I was always nervous that I’d be called upon to do that if we cut a deal for an additional product. Most managers don’t do proactive recruiting. I know they’re all busy. We’re saying spend time coaching, managing performance, and with your customers, but also spend time on recruitment, especially if you have some poor performers.

[00:12:44] Steven Rosen: Knowing that you can upgrade and there are people out there who can step in and do a better job is good. But the only way you’ll know that is if you’re having coffee with people on an ongoing basis, seeing what the marketplace has. So, if you were to ask me, Steven, what percentage do you, or let me ask you, Colleen, what percentage of managers do you feel, and this is probably more of a gut feeling, actually do that?

[00:13:11] Colleen Stanley: This probably could be backed up with some data, but my gut feeling is not enough. And it’s because they are busy. And so this one can fall into that delayed gratification bucket. You have to do it before the event happens. And Stephen Covey was great about this quadrant two being important, not urgent.

[00:13:30] Colleen Stanley: As crazy as it sounds, recruiting is hugely important. But guess what? The other fires are burning. You’ve got operations issues. You’ve got to go out and do the visits. You’ve got clients that are evaluating; should we stay with you? And so it’s a classic example of the knowing and doing gap because this is not new knowledge.

[00:13:49] Colleen Stanley: Always be recruiting, always be expecting. So, you have to dig a little deeper. What needs to happen in organizations is that sales managers need to have someone they’re accountable to. So, their key performance message or metric rolls up to whoever the boss is. And I’ve conducted X amount of interviews.

[00:14:09] Colleen Stanley: I’ve conducted exploratory coffees. And so a lot of times, frankly, they’re not being held accountable for the activities that are going to make them successful. And all of us are better with accountability in place.

[00:14:23] Steven Rosen: You know what? You’re right. And in our next episode, we’ll be talking about your sales leadership team. But those are some key metrics. I call it proactive recruiting. It’s like having bench strength so you can go down and find somebody.

[00:14:41] Steven Rosen: It makes it easier to address your non-performer or pull the plug, and that’s the elephant in the room. When do you address it? And in many cases, if there isn’t pressure from the top sales managers, then just like everybody else, we all take the path of least resistance. One of the biggest challenges when I’m coaching folks is always having more time to do stuff once I have a full team.

[00:15:05] Colleen Stanley: Right. How are you going to get a full team when you’re prospecting?

[00:15:08] Steven Rosen: I always say that the reality of sales leadership is you never have a full team. There are always pieces that can be changed. So I encourage the folks who are listening, who are in those positions, if you think that someone doesn’t belong on your team, you need to get moving now because it’s going to hurt you later in the year.

[00:15:31] Steven Rosen: So regardless of how you did last year, if you blew your numbers away, if you just made it, or if you struggled, now is a time to look and see who the right people are. And maybe you can help because how do you distinguish, Colleen, between the learners who can move forward and the laggards in your team?

[00:15:52] Colleen Stanley: We don’t even have to sit there and go, gosh, how do I determine that? It is called reality testing 101. Learners are showing you the behaviors, and what I’ve seen with some of my best sales leaders and salespeople is they’re reading, and they don’t say goofy things like, I don’t like to read because I can’t focus.

[00:16:14] Colleen Stanley: Seriously, if you can’t focus on reading a book, I’m really troubled for you running a call that lasts for 60 minutes. They’re listening to podcasts. They consume content and do something with it. And so, in the EQ world, it’s called self-actualization. They’re on a constant journey of personal and professional improvement.

[00:16:32] Colleen Stanley: And I believe moving forward, like resiliency, this is a no-option behavior because the world is changing. We were lucky to hear Dr. Nadia. She has a very long last name, but she runs the reinvention academy and has some great data. One piece of data was this.

[00:16:54] Colleen Stanley: 20 percent of companies are going to have to reinvent every year. Now, if you have people who don’t like learning and haven’t developed the habit of learning, your company is going to get left behind. And I hate to be blunt, but if you hire people who don’t have time and are just not juiced by learning, here’s the reality.

[00:17:11] Colleen Stanley: The longer they work for you, the dumber they get. 

The Challenge of Managing Legacy Sales Reps

[00:17:19] Steven Rosen: I love it. But here’s the question. I’ve worked with companies that have salespeople who fit all the qualities that we brought out. Number one, they’re not self-developing.

[00:17:34] Steven Rosen: They’ve been in the role for 25 years. They’re not coachable. They don’t want to be coached. However, I do believe they can be coached if the manager has that persistence. They basically just manage their customers, and people leave them out because somehow.

[00:17:52] Steven Rosen: Maybe it’s not a fast-changing environment where they can hum along and have the book of business they can continue. But you’re missing many of the skills. So, what do you suggest we do with those folks?

[00:18:02] Colleen Stanley: This is one where you can almost speak out of both sides of your mouth. And it depends on the industry.

[00:18:09] Colleen Stanley: It depends on your competitor because if you have a very aggressive competitor, all of a sudden, what I call these legacy reps managing a big book of business, they have lots of knowledge and expertise. They’re not costing you money because you worked out your compensation package.

[00:18:24] Colleen Stanley: You’ve got your territory and account management. You don’t keep giving them new opportunities. You send that over to your new or younger sellers there. But the fact is, you’ve got to be very careful because if the competition changes and starts going after their business and they haven’t been upgrading the skills and knowledge expertise, then you’re going to start seeing that territory sink.

[00:18:49] Colleen Stanley: But there are times where I say, you know what? If they are writing the business, they should just let them go. Trying to assign them new business, they’re not going to do it. And that might be where you have to develop a whole different structure of inside salespeople, BD, account executives, customer support, and such.

[00:19:07] Colleen Stanley: But I get a little nervous for any legacy rep at this point because of how fast the world is changing.

[00:19:13] Steven Rosen: That’s a great point. I know some clients who just leave them be. There’s a profound nuance that you brought out that you don’t feed them new business.

[00:19:25] Steven Rosen: You let them manage their book, assuming that from a product development perspective or competitive perspective, it’s pretty constant in terms of things not changing every six months. You leverage them where their strengths are. So, that’s a nuance. They may not be your most coachable people, and the likelihood is they don’t want to be coached at this point in their career.

[00:19:49] Steven Rosen: Legacy reps, that’s a great way of describing it. I call it tenure, but legacy is the word I’ll use going forward. They’re probably not reading new books. They’re probably focused on other things and feel they’ve been there and done that. But that does stagnate the business where you don’t have that growth mindset.

[00:20:07] Colleen Stanley: And that’s where they need their goals, which are not going to be this new business development. I see this happening all the time. They should open up new business. They’re not going to. Just stop. You should be growing that existing business. And so that’s where if you’ve got lines of business that that legacy rep isn’t opening up consistently year after year, they’re being ignored.

[00:20:26] Colleen Stanley: Well, you might as well just get a little platter full of brownies and give them to the competitor because we’ll say, listen, we’re not going after these lines of business. And if you’ve been in sales long enough, we have all seen that the minute a good competitor gets in there with one line of business into your account, they start servicing. Then, they’re starting to upsell, expand, and land.

[00:20:47] Colleen Stanley: That’s the question you have. They must have sales goals that expand that existing business. So that’s where the growth is going to come from.

[00:20:57] Steven Rosen: Interesting. Interesting. I’ve dealt with one client that had a very high market share. But you’re right. You also want to make sure that you’re maintaining your business.

[00:21:09] Steven Rosen: You’re not letting a competitor sneak in and get the old toe in the door. That you’re constantly sharp and keeping an eye on your business.

[00:21:16] Colleen Stanley: Oh, absolutely. I was a toe-in-the-door rep because I began in business with a startup where we had no business, and then because the existing competitor got very complacent and we got one line of business, we’d service the heck out of them so that we’d start getting another line of business.

[00:21:32] Colleen Stanley: And pretty soon, we were the Goliath in the industry. So, I’ve seen it happen firsthand. So be careful on that. So, Steven, I’m curious here. You’re getting ready for the new year, right? How do you know if you have the right composition on your team? And I don’t even know if that’s the right question, but how do you know you have the right team going forward?

The Need for Future Skills in Sales Teams

[00:21:52] Steven Rosen: Well, part of it is every year is new in terms of expectations and where you’re focused in your product line. Do you have new products coming out? What is your go-to-market strategy? So, it’s important to do some skills assessment.

[00:22:09] Steven Rosen: The first assessment is, what do you need to be successful? What skill sets do you need to succeed this year or in the future as the business goes forward? So, with this small gap between the end of Q4 and the start of Q1, I always used to joke that it was Christmas time. Although people want it to take off, and it’s important to recharge, you want to be thinking about that maybe just as January hits.

[00:22:36] Steven Rosen: Do you have the right skills for your future needs? 

[00:22:42] Colleen Stanley: I think that’s the key. I think you just said future needs. So, if you keep looking back, it might be fine to upgrade those skills. Maybe those aren’t the skills needed. Is that fair?

[00:22:56] Steven Rosen: Yeah.

[00:22:56] Colleen Stanley: 100%. Can you give an example of that? I’m curious because that’s a really good way of phrasing it.

[00:23:02] Steven Rosen: So, let’s say you acquired a new market and are using the same sales organization. It could be the same customers, but it might be different people you’re selling to.

[00:23:14] Steven Rosen: You might be moving from old technology, which you still want to sell, to a brand new segment. Do you have the skills to open those doors? Do you have the capability to learn the product line? It may be very different. Then the ultimate question becomes, do you have the right people? It doesn’t mean you fire them, but you might need to retrain them.

[00:23:38] Steven Rosen: You may need to start looking at your hiring criteria and who you are hiring going forward so that it adapts to where your market’s going to be. It’s the old Wayne Gretzky approach where you don’t want to go where the puck is. You want to go where the puck is going to be, which takes a bit of forethought from senior leadership, how we are evolving our business, and what people we will need to sell successfully in the future.

[00:24:05] Steven Rosen: Now, some of the same skillsets we talked about, such as coachability and resiliency, are needed. But there may be some technical skills that you need to look at as well, whether they’re new markets, prospecting skills, or technical skills.

[00:24:18] Colleen Stanley: Somebody may not have the appetite for it, right?

[00:24:23] Colleen Stanley: So they’re not very passionate or really having trouble getting their arms around it. You may need to have sales engineers that you give more of a different type of training so they can wrap their head around the technical knowledge, but then they can’t read the room.

[00:24:39] Colleen Stanley: So I suspect that future skill is the one that’s missing out there a lot. Who are the decision-makers? And some basic blocking and tackling. You need a new value proposition for all these new sets of buyers. And I see a lot of people just going out with the one-size-fits-all value proposition. This is one-on-one, and we all know it, but we don’t do it. Again, the knowing and doing gap.

[00:25:02] Steven Rosen: 100% there is a gap there. And coming back to it’s really about the people. It’s the people who are going to drive your organization. I used to have a boss who said if you take care of the people issues, the business takes care of itself.

[00:25:14] Steven Rosen: Ultimately, do you have the right people for today and tomorrow, and how do we help them? How do we help them get better? Then, sometimes, you just have to have a poker expression, which you may want to share.

[00:25:32] Colleen Stanley: You know when to hold them.

[00:25:33] Steven Rosen: Or when to fold them. You got it. Exactly right. And that’s the elephant in the room because that’s hard to do if you’re closer to those individuals. So, Colleen, we’ve had some really good discussions. And part of our goal is to make sure that we can offer some actionable next steps for people who watch our podcast.

[00:25:56] Steven Rosen: Do you have any advice for our audience in terms of how to ensure that you’re going to have a great year because you have the right people in the right seats?

The Role of Learning Goals in Sales Success

[00:26:06] Colleen Stanley: Well, my advice will segue from what you said. As sales leaders, we often get very focused on setting the sales goal.

[00:26:15] Colleen Stanley: We do good territory and account management. So that’s all really important. However, what we don’t do is back up and determine the learning goals. Within those learning goals, there could be hard skills like you mentioned, Steven. There might be new technical skills and new product knowledge.

[00:26:32] Colleen Stanley: It could be those consultative sales skills navigating through an even bigger enterprise because they just got acquired or acquired a company. But then what I see missing, and this is obviously the world I play in a lot, are the soft skills. And so you might have the smartest person in the room, but they can’t read the room, so they’re not getting deals across the line because of lack of empathy.

[00:26:48] Colleen Stanley: You might have a person from a soft skill side lacking assertiveness. So now they’re in big enterprise sales, but they lack the assertiveness to gain meetings with all the buying influences.

[00:27:07] Colleen Stanley: In some businesses, it can be simply emotion management. I am married to a great negotiator, but guess what trouble negotiators negotiate? Well, there are some great negotiating skills workshops out there, but if your salespeople get emotionally triggered when they’re in negotiations, they can’t use the smart part of their brains.

[00:27:30] Colleen Stanley: So, set the sales goals. And then set the hard skills goals. But don’t forget the soft skills learning goals. Learning goals will help your salespeople hit the sales goals. 

Conclusion: The Importance of Proactive Performance Management

[00:27:42] Steven Rosen: I think that’s phenomenal. Let’s create a learning organization where we’re always developing. For me, some of it comes back down to the fundamentals of sales leadership. Are you proactively managing performance?

[00:27:57] Steven Rosen: Are you having regular reviews to make sure your people are on track? If they’re not on track, are you taking corrective action to help them get better? Are you setting clear expectations? You talked about learning goals. To me, it’s about development. Are you developing them? Are they willing to develop themselves? That is critical in this day and age because we all have access to the same information.

[00:28:22] Steven Rosen: Someone asked me about the things to do to have effective meetings. I said, have you Googled that? I could tell you what I think: have an agenda, stick to time, whatever the case may be. 

[00:28:41] Steven Rosen: I said just Google it and see what Google says. What are the top five things you need to have more effective meetings? We all have access to information, whether it be a podcast, as you suggested, or reading books. Books are not cost-prohibitive.

[00:28:59] Steven Rosen: It’s the time and the gray matter to do it. But I look to sales leaders to see that they are proactively managing performance so we don’t come to a point in time where we’ve had a non-performer that we’ve been carrying for three quarters. And now Steven’s saying, well, you have to act on those people.

[00:29:15] Steven Rosen: You should have acted two quarters ago, at least, or maybe the third quarter ago. Look at your people at this point in time and decide whether they’re the right people. If they are the right people, identify, as you said, what are their learning goals.

[00:29:28] Steven Rosen: Provide additional coaching, learning, and training to help them get better. We’re aligned in terms of the thinking but to me, it does come back to it’s not the manager’s job to make those people better. But you want to make sure that you’re helping them and also having periodic reviews so that issues don’t linger for a long period of time.

[00:29:52] Colleen Stanley: I know we’re going to be covering how to have those more difficult conversations. You remind me of a sales manager I was working with and he was a sales manager at LinkedIn.

[00:30:08] Colleen Stanley: And it was interesting. At LinkedIn, part of their bonus was tied to the number of coaching meetings they conducted. That was very smart for the company. So it’s not just giving lip service to coaching. They were tracking and measuring the coaching sessions. Now, again, you could talk about the quality of the coaching session, but the fact is he was not a hard person to convince that you needed a consistent coaching cadence.

[00:30:25] Colleen Stanley: So that might be another one. Look at the bigger picture. What are we compensating sales managers for? What kind of KPIs are we tracking for our sales leaders? Because we all do better with accountability.

[00:30:39] Colleen Stanley: It’s the reason Weight Watchers and many different programs are so popular. You’ve got accountability built in.

[00:30:47] Steven Rosen: 100 percent, and you picked up on that what I’m passionate about is coaching people, which is the sales manager’s role.

[00:30:58] Steven Rosen: I feel better about paying my annual fee now. But kudos to LinkedIn that they’re saying, Hey, you know what managers? This is important, so we are going to hold you accountable for this. They’re putting a portion of their bonus on that, putting their money where their mouth is. So, Colleen, it’s been a pleasure having this discussion, and I look forward to many more. I want to tell listeners that the key is transformative action, which is the heart of leadership.

[00:31:26] Steven Rosen: We know what to do, but it’s about taking action. And that’s really what we’re focused on, bridging that knowing versus doing gap. So take action. Be proactive. Sometimes, it’s making the tough calls earlier. And if you like the broadcast, I would ask you to subscribe because we have more great stuff coming.

[00:31:49] Steven Rosen: Thanks again, Colleen. I look forward to our next session, where we’re going to talk about whether it is the leader or the salespeople. Thank you.

[00:31:58] Colleen Stanley: We’ll leave you with that cliffhanger. Thanks, everyone.

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Steven Rosen 2022

Hi, I’m Steven Rosen, and I’ve been coaching sales executives for over 20 years!

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Steven A. Rosen

Steven helps companies transform sales managers into great sales leaders. His focused coaching helps clients achieve greater personal and professional success. Steven is the author of 52 Sales Management Tips - The Sales Manager’s Success Guide.

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