As a sales manager, one of your most important responsibilities is to develop people. We like to say that sales managers should focus less on developing sales and more on developing salespeople.
For sales managers who started out as salespeople, though, this can be especially hard. It's tempting to guide your team to follow your example, and you might wonder why what worked for you isn't working for them.
Here are four ways to develop people by recognizing their differences.
1. Use behavioral assessments to understand your salespeople.
Behavioral assessments are a great way to get to know your team individually. You can only develop people when you know who they are to begin with.
Behavioral assessments, such as DISC and Meyers-Briggs, will give you insight into your salespeople's strengths and weaknesses.
Take the time to understand what characteristics help each of your team member succeed. For example, you might find that you were successful in selling because of your charm and drive to succeed. Some of your team members may succeed by following an organized and methodical process, or through connecting with prospects based on their quiet confidence and subject matter expertise.
Make sure you are keeping your team members' individual profiles in account as you coach and support them. It's also a good idea to review their profiles before conducting a performance review or providing constructive feedback.
One thing to consider is how your sales reps are motivated. Check out my eBook on the 4 Dimensions of Sales Motivation for a framework you can use.
2. Clarify roles and goals before joint calls with your sales reps – and don't rescue.
Joint calls can be a great way to add weight to a meeting with a prospect, and it gives sales managers an opportunity to see their sales reps in the field. Unfortunately, some sales managers can be tempted to jump in and take these meetings over. You can't develop people if you're doing their work for them.
Take the time before the meeting to clarify the salesperson's goals for the meeting and what role they want you to play. Offer suggestions if needed, but do your best to let your sales rep take the lead.
Once you are in the meeting, do your best to avoid stepping in and “rescuing” the situation if it seems like your sales rep is making a mistake. Obviously, if it's a big mistake and a major opportunity, you might need to jump in. But if it's a minor error, or even just a difference in approach, let it happen. Your reps sometimes need to make mistakes in order to learn.
3. Make sure you ask your sales reps for their ideas when you're coaching them.
It surprises me how many people think that coaching someone means telling them what to do. How can you expect to develop people when you're spoon-feeding them?
When you are coaching your reps, always ask them for their input and ideas first. For example, before you give your feedback on a joint meeting, ask them what they thought. When they have a problem, ask them what ideas they are considering.
When someone is brainstorming ideas, just keep asking “What else?” Don't feel the need to always jump in with your own ideas. You might be surprised at your reps' creativity!
4. Develop individual sales goals and get your reps involved.
Rather than having standard sales goals, it's best to develop individual goals customized for each rep and territory.
And rather than developing a sales goal and just giving it to a rep, get them involved in setting their own goals. Ask them to develop a bottom-up forecast while you're developing your top-down goals, then compare the two.
Your reps are much more likely to buy into their goals when they are custom goals they had a hand in setting.
For a deep dive into sales goals, check out my latest eBook: The Ultimate Guide to Setting & Achieving Sales Goals. You'll learn all about combining a top-down and a bottom-up forecast to set better goals.
Remember, if you want to develop people, recognize their differences!
Do you have any more ideas for developing people by remembering their differences? Leave your suggestions and feedback in the comments.