Theo Epstein did it again. In 2004, he ended the “Curse of the Bambino” and now with the Cubs winning the World Series, he just ended the longest drought in professional sports (in fact 108 years). Just how did he do it? Listen to what Cubs owner Tom Ricketts said about Theo: “He made sure I knew right away it wasn’t about one person. It was about the organization. We talked about how you treat people and the right people will create success. It takes time. It won’t come overnight. He’s honest with everybody everywhere he goes.” It’s all about the organization and people. Can you imagine the Red Sox or Cubs parting ways with Theo after 1 year or even 3 years of hiring him? So, here is some sales leader advice that will help any organization become successful:
1. Hire the Right People
Having the right team is the foundation to any successful organization. I realize you’re not going to always hire the right people, but have a solid process in place. Look to improve or tweak your process. Again, it’s all about building a team. You’re not always going to have “A” players, but you can have an “A” Team. Set the expectations at the very beginning. Look to hire character and focus on the soft skills—skills can be acquired while personalities cannot. Have the candidate interview you. After all, it should be a great fit for both sides. It’s all about attitude.
2. Provide Quality Training & Up-to-date Resources
Once you hire, make sure that their training is meaningful. Investing in quality training is paramount to your sales team’s success. Your training should promote engagement—showing and not telling. Although most companies have an initial on-boarding program, training is an on-going process—not a one-time event. If your training program is 10 or even 20 years old, dust it off an revise it. Your training will be beneficial if it is always fresh with new ideas with new market research.
Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.
3. Listen to Sales and Trust Your Sales Leadership
This goes back to hiring the right person for the position and setting clear expectations right from the beginning. Goals and objectives shouldn’t be a topic of conversation 6 months into the job. A sales leader’s role should be able to provide their team the necessary tools and resources as well as the ability to remove any obstacles in order to make their team successful. Trust your sales leadership team. Listen to their suggestions and ideas. The marketplace and America’s work force has evolved. “Control leads to compliance; autonomy leads to engagement.” Dan Pink
Sales Leader Advice
4. Customer & Sales Feedback
If you get offended because a customer is dissatisfied with your product and service, then you need to reevaluate why you are in business. Products and services always need improvement. Listen to your customers and most importantly listen to your sales force if they provide product enhancements or suggestions on how to make the company even better. Act accordingly to make improvements. By listening to your team, it will provide a sense of empowerment thus increasing their engagement with their customer base. Not to mention increasing client retention. I’m sure you’ve seen this quote from Tim McClure: “The biggest concern for any organization should be when their most passionate people become quiet” If you’re focused on your bottom line, then keep your existing customers happy. It costs more to obtain new customers.
The biggest concern for any organization should be when their most passionate people become quiet.
5. Allow Time for Results
We live in an instant gratification society. We want results now! When did this Utopian world start to exist? If you really want to eat and enjoy a great meal, then you take time to prepare it and cook it. We are still people—not robots. Stop looking at just numbers. The numbers will take care of themselves if you invest in your people. It takes time. The Red Sox didn’t win the World Series until four years after Theo arrived in Boston. Remember, the Cubs finished in last place in the National League Central for the first three years of Epstein’s presidency; however 5 years later, they are now World Series champions.
So in conclusion, follow this sales leader advice. As a result, you will create the culture and a positive work environment that is necessary to produce results. If you follow these steps, you will have less turnover, a results-driven sales force, and top talent wanting to join your company. So, HIRE the right people, provide quality TRAINING, LISTEN to your sales team and customers, TRUST your sales leadership, and be PATIENT.
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