Are you a coach or a fixer?
The first of the sales management techniques to empower your sales reps is to identify whether you are a coach or a fixer. Typically, sales managers tend to be fixers because that is what they have been taught to do. They have been taught that the managers fix the broken stuff and close the deals because that is what they learned from their managers. Then the cycle continues.
If you are a sales manager who is constantly putting out fires, you do not have time to do the rest of your job. End of story. If you are trying to manage everyone else in areas that they should be capable already, your duties get pushed to the side and you will always be two steps behind.
The fact is, firefighting eats up your own productivity. You have tasks to perform that you will not be able to do if you are busy putting out fires everywhere else and solving problems for others. When you run all over to solve problems it sends the message that you will always do so.
As a result, salespeople will start to depend on you to solve their problems that they should be fully capable of solving on their own. If they are not yet capable then your job is not to be the fixer but rather to be the coach. However, if you teach them to be more independent they will not need you to do it for them. In other words, you will empower them to solve their own problems.
Empowerment Improves Productivity
When the sales reps are empowered and can solve their own problems and make their own decisions it will free up your time to do what you need to do. It can be very frustrating when someone is not capable of making a decision without immediate feedback. You can coach them to do this and ensure them that the wrong decision is better than no decision at all. If they learn from their mistakes there should not be any negative consequences for having made a choice.
When you teach people to make their own decisions and learn from any mistakes they have made, they are learning to be responsible and to take accountability for their choices. In doing this, you are also helping to reduce the excuse making because your team has learned that it is okay to make mistakes as long as they are learning and improving.
This will help your sales reps grow and it will also give you the opportunity for growth because you can concentrate on your career as well.
Change the Culture
The next of the sales management techniques to empower your sales reps is to change the culture. When you are looking to change the culture it is important to know if the issue is isolated to you because of decisions and choices you have made or has the company created the culture.
If the company has an issue with the culture that has been created then you can make small changes starting with yourself and your team. Keep in mind, you are not going to “fix” everything all in one day but if you start with yourself and your team others in the company will take notice.
Once you have created something good within your own department you can share with others how you did it so that changes can be made in other areas that need it. The company culture will not change itself nor will it change in a day so you have to start somewhere – the most obvious place is with yourself. Then, look at how you handle situations and how you interact with people at work and see what changes you can make to create the culture you want.
Take a look at yourself, understand where you are in the company, and change what you can.
How to Implement
Now that you know the management techniques to empower your sales reps it’s time to implement it. First, do you know anyone who asks questions all the time and they are curious? They extract information from people that nobody else can extract. This is because they ask a lot of good questions and then they listen to the answer. This is the type of technique you should be emulating. Becuase while it is important to know what to ask you also need to know what to listen for.
Define the problem.
When you want to make these changes to empower your reps you need to first define the problem. Decide what it is you need to change and how you would like it to change. You can’t just say something needs to be done and then not have a plan in place. Decide what the desired outcome is and then decide what can be done to achieve the goal.
Make your REPS define the problem.
Then, once you have sales reps come to you with a problem make them do the same thing! Ask them questions and listen to the answers until the problem is clearly defined. Once they have defined the problem you can ask them what they would do to solve it. Ask them what they want to see happen and ask questions to guide them to an appropriate response. Once they see that they are able to work through problems in this way it will empower them to start solving them without coming to you each time.
However, be aware that some people have trouble defining the problem in the first place. The first step is to get them to recognize what the issue actually is so that they are working toward solving that rather than trying to blame someone or something else for what has happened. Once they understand what the real problem is they can decide what course of action is appropriate to deal with it.
Solve their own problems.
After some practice, sales reps will be able to come to you with a problem and offer their solutions on how to solve it. Once they have done this a few times they should be able to start solving the problems on their own as you have coached them through the process giving them the confidence to know that they are capable.
Of course, there will still be times when the team needs you to work through a problem with them. But at this point they know how to approach it – come to you with the problem, offer some possible solutions, and discuss the plan of action with you rather than expecting you to solve it. They are a part of your team and you want their input!
When they are solving their own problems and speaking to you about working out some problems together they will feel empowered and they will have much more opportunity for growth. Empowering your sales reps means giving them the tools to succeed.
Keep Filling The Funnel
We would love to hear from you. Let us know what you think about this episode. Please feel free to reach out to us if there is a specific sales topic you would like me to cover. You can find me on Twitter at @Sheajohnr or email me at email@example.com. And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.