December 23, 2008

12 ways to unlock the real potential of your sales team

Managers often say that their people 'are their greatest asset'.  Yet, if surveys are to be believed most of those people are neither very happy, nor very productive in their jobs.

This is not a poke at the people in question, far from it – issues of employee satisfaction, motivation and performance are, in my view primaryily the responsibility of the manager. 

After all, it is the manager (or his predecessor) that has recruited, selected, trained, managed and led the person into their present zone of satisfaction, or performance.  If that is not where the manager wants the person to be then he/she have got to have a plan for how they are going to help the person in question change it.

Wouldn't you rather have an empty chair than an empty suit?   Because a half hearted sales person, is almost as bad as no salesperson at all, ensuring high levels of motivation and performance is a particularly important issue for sales managers.

Many managers prefer dealing with spreadsheets and contracts, as opposed soft issues, such as; staff satisfaction, or potentially 'dicey' areas, such as; employee reviews.  For sales managers this is where, because both personalities and wills tend to be stronger, the comparison with 'managing a bag of cats' is often drawn.

So how can managers transform the levels of motivation and performance of their staff?  Well, to find out I turned to the Gallop survey of 10 million employees and managers.  More precisely, I turned to 'The 12  Elements of Great Managing' by Rodd Wagner and James Harter for the list of factors that determine job related performance and satisfaction in any organization. 

The more productive the team member the more of the following points apply:

1. I know what is expected of me

2.       I have the materials and equipment required to do my work right
3.       At work I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day

4.       In the last 7 days I received recognition, or praise for doing good work

5.       My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person

6.       There is someone at work that encourages my development

7.       At work, my opinions seem to count

8.       The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my work is important

9.       My associates or colleagues are committed to doing quality work

10.      I have a best friend at work

11.      In the last 6 months somebody at work has talked to me about my progress

12.      This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow

From reading the above list it is pretty clear what we, as managers, need to do to enable our people to perform at their best.  

Steel tycoon Carnegie, said 'you can burn down my factories, but leave me my sales people and I will be back to where I am today in less than a year'.  Sounds like the 12 factors applies to his sales team.


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