4 practical ways to get “better”

My blog last week apparently hit a nerve – a good one. It generated a lot of likes, shares, comments, and even new connections.

So, let’s go further down the rabbit hole.

Years ago, in talking with an executive client, I asked him what his definition of success was for the project I was working on. His answer – “I want things to get better.”

Could he possibly have been more vague?

When I pointed that out to him, we both had a good chuckle.

And that is the point of this week’s blog: how do we define what should be better for our teams?

Specifically, I am going to get practical about the four areas that I mentioned in last week’s blog:

  • Recruiting
  • Onboarding and development
  • Selling
  • Managing

It would be easy to say that we need to recruit/onboard/sell/manage “better” and get positive nods and high-fives from our key stakeholders, but that is still too high level. The trick is defining how we want each topic to improve.

If you want to recruit better, shift your emphasis from job descriptions to customer and role profiles.

Go read a job description for your sellers and you will most likely see a boring list of generic skills and qualities that don’t truly mean anything. What you want is to:

  • Create clear, concise profiles of the customers you sell to. Yes, you will likely have more than one ideal customer profile because you sell to more than one type of customer (different altitude levels, different industries, different sized deals, etc.).
  • Create clear, concise profiles that define how to sell to each customer profile. Think of it as defining how you want your sellers to change for each conversation. You do not want the same generic approach for all customers. Which is what your job descriptions likely define.

If you want to onboard and develop better, shift your emphasis from static training programs to dynamic learning experiences.

For learning to be effective, it MUST recognize that people are not machines that need information. We are organisms that are driven first by how we feel. Sadly, too much of what I see in the learning space is forgotten within the first 30 days – which makes sales results take even longer to achieve. What you want is to:

  • Recognize how the brain works. Yes, I am talking brain science. If you want learning to happen, you have to include neurotransmitters (the hormones that turn our brains “on”) in your designs. This means that learning experiences should be fun, relational, and involve risk.
  • Design for multiple learning styles. Some people learn by reading. Others by talking. Others in on-on-one interactions. Most likely, everyone needs a combination of everything in varying degrees. But make sure that the variety drives brain activity AND personal preference.

If you want to sell better, shift your emphasis from product/service pushing to value-creating problem-solving.

Ask your sales team to answer this question: What do you sell? If you hear them talk about outcomes, good news. But if you hear them talk about products and services, you have a genuine problem. What you want is to:

  • Anchor your sales content, tools, and behaviors (including sales profiles) to using problem-solving as the path for selling outcomes. If your content, tools, and behaviors are not clearly anchored to problem-solving to sell outcomes, that stuff is just injecting bad DNA into your team.
  • Align your processes to enable problem-solving as the path for selling outcomes. But hear this CLEARLY – you cannot fix processes if your sales content, tools, and behaviors are not addressed first. Your processes MUST be able to rely on problem-centric content, tools, and behaviors for them to work.

If you want to manage better, shift your emphasis from administrative oversight to driving high team performance and bench strength.

This is the trickiest one because everyone will say that the number one priority for the sales management layer is to drive high performance, etc. But if you see the company actually overwhelming sales managers’ daily schedules with administrative oversight and reporting tasks, your managers are likely not doing what they need to be doing. What you want is to:

  • Redefine the roles of all sales managers. Start with a clean slate and define what Ideal would look like. Then go back through the job descriptions and look for alignment. Chances are, you won’t like what you see. Fix that now. And put real teeth into it by integrating the new role clarity with recruiting, promoting, developing, performance evaluations, and compensation.
  • Redefine the processes that managers use to drive high performance and bench strength. Don’t have those defined? You just saw a major way to get “better.”

The bottom line to all of this is pretty straightforward – and exactly what I said last week: What got you here won’t get you there.

I mua. Onward and upward.

By Tim Ohai

PS – If you or someone you know needs to get better performance from the sales team, let’s set up a conversation to talk about it. Get on my calendar here.

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