An empowered sales rep is a sales rep who can solve their own problems, close their own deals, and fight their own fights. Unfortunately, many sales managers don’t allow their sales reps to feel this empowerment. Instead, they fix their problems for them and end up causing more problems down the line. Today on the funnel we talk about how good sales managers develop empowered salespeople. Including, how to get to the root of the problem, and how to implement it into your company. As always if you have any questions feel free to schedule a free 30-minute consultation and I’ll do my best to help in any way I can.
What we’re going to cover:
- Coach or Fixer?
- Empowerment improves productivity
- Change the culture
- How to implement
Coach or Fixer?
Do you put out fires?
“If you’re a manager, do you put out fires? Is that how you spend the vast majority of your day? Is that your biggest complaint? That you can’t seem to get anything done?”
“Because you don’t get any work done. You work 80 hours a week and all you’re doing is putting out sales reps fires, yet you still have other stuff to do. That’s not right.”
Firefighting eats productivity
“Sales managers don’t want to lose that revenue, I get it. “I can’t take the risk of empowering a sales rep to make those decisions because of the risk losing of that deal. If I do that then I don’t have my number, and the world is going to end because I’m going to lose my job.”
“Yes, to some degree that’s true, if you don’t get to the number you lose your job. But if you’re consistently putting out fires and doing the work for them you’re never going to grow beyond where you are today and eventually somewhere in your career, you’re going to hit a wall. There’s only so much you can do in a 24-hour day. We all have the same hours and that firefighting eats your productivity.”
Salespeople begin to depend on you to solve problems
“When you do that (firefight), you’re sending a message that says “I’m here to solve your problems” and they begin to depend on that.”
Why is this a problem?
“I had a manager once, let’s call him Colin. And Colin had a problem where he keep firefighting for our sales teams i.e solving every problem, closing every deal, etc. So, we decided that anytime a sales rep had a problem that we would send them over to him, and we encouraged it to the point where his office would have a line of 3 to 4 sales reps deep. Then one day he walks in and says ‘my head is going to explode I can’t take it anymore. They keep coming to my office you guys have to help me.’
That’s why you need to empower your salespeople. Because Colin is a great example of what happens when firefighting gets out of control.”
“If you’re putting out fires all day, how do you get anything else done? How do you plan, how do you build strategy? How do you get training, coaching, development in place? You can’t because you’re putting out fires. So, don’t be the fixer be the coach.”
Empowerment improves productivity
1. Frees up your time
“If you’re empowering them to make decisions and do the right things then it frees up your time and their time. Why? Because then they are confident in their own abilities to solve their own problems without involving you.”
2. They learn accountability
“I want you to make a decision here. If you make a decision I’m not going to be mad at you making a decision if it doesn’t work out as long as you learn from your mistakes, you don’t make it again, and you evolve from that. Where I really get frustrated is no decision at all, when you look at somebody else to do your work for you. Which is why you need to focus on helping them take accountability.”
“Have them take responsibility. We know if we go on that deal, we can close it, we can help it, and it feels good, right? But if it does go south they have no responsibility, why? Because you put the fire out. They have an easy out, they can blame you. Empower them to take responsibility for the things they do.”
4. Helps reduce excuse making
“You want to reduce excuse making? Empower them. Let them learn to take accountability, responsibility for their actions and what they do. That’s how you get improvement, that’s how you grow. Here’s where we started, here’s where we are now, this is the growth that I’ve been able to document and this is how we did it, that’s what empowerment does for you.”
Change the culture
Isolated to you
“First of all, you need to evaluate is it just isolated to you or is this the culture the company has created?”
“If it’s just you, you can fix that easily. If it’s a cultural issue you’re going to try to fix yourself first. Why? Because it’s not your job to try and change the entire culture of a company when you’re a sales manager but you can at least start with your team.”
Empowerment front and center
“The idea is to just understand where you are in your company. Maybe you own the company, you’re the manager of the sales people and you’re the one that’s the fixer, or maybe you’re in a larger organization and that’s the culture. Understand where it is because before you can fix it you have to understand where it lies.”
How to implement
Hear what they are saying
“Do any of you have friends that just ask questions all the time and they have a way of getting information out of people? They just sit there and they seem to just extract information from people that no one else can extract? That’s how you need to be. You need to listen to what they’re saying when they bring a problem to you. Let them say what they need to say, don’t interrupt them, don’t agree or disagree, just listen.”
“Acknowledge the problem and focus on what the outcome is that they’re looking for. Then ask the question how would you solve this? What’s the desired outcome? What’s your objective here? Tell me how you would fix this? Because what you’re doing is guiding them to the answer.”
Ignore the fishing.
“There are some people that are going to use this as an opportunity to go fishing. They’re going to throw something out there or say something to elicit an emotional response from you, don’t get sucked into that. Instead, you’re going to ask them what is it that they’re looking for. They may give you a big story or silly scenario but don’t react, don’t get emotional, just ask them again and again.”
“If that crazy scenario were to happen and I was to fix it, THEN what would you do?’ Because I want to get to the root of what they’re really looking for.”
“Refocus them on the problem, on taking responsibility of fixing it themselves. You’re guiding them in and setting them free to do these things on their own.”
Ask the questions.
“What is it that you can do here? What do you think the best course of action would be? You ask them the question.”
“Don’t give me the sidebars about how this person is a jerk and this person is difficult to deal with in the office, don’t tell me the story, give me the problem and your thoughts on how to solve it. After that, we can work together and figure out how to solve it together. If you can get them to think beyond the problem itself and have a possible solution that’s the key.”
“Overtime as you begin to roll that out to them they’re going to come to you less and less. Why? Because as they begin to start talking it out with you they’re going to learn how to solve some of these problems themselves and they’re never going to involve you. All the sudden you have empowered salespeople.”
“You can’t just say to them you fix it yourself I’m sick and tired of solving your problems, you’ve got to teach them because you’re probably the one that created this victim mentality and you’re going to confuse them the minute you stop.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you get a chance, please feel free to review us on iTunes.