In the last edition of The SalesPulse I talked about simplifying your business by looking at your processes. In this edition I am going to build on that by looking at a crucial aspect of the way we generally work and find a better way of doing it. I am using sales as the example but it is relevant in all aspects of business.
Over the last couple of months, I have attended two conference, four webinars and read many articles, all of which were sales related and one word was common to all of them. It wasn’t customers or clients; it wasn’t benefits; and it wasn’t solving their problems. The word is “Review”. It came up in many different contexts and from my own personal experience as a sales manager/director I too used it many times, (far too many times). One finds that the bigger the company the more reviews there are of sales people. Sales people know about reviews and in general terms they know how to manage them; they give away the minimum amount of information but enough to get the reviewer off their case. Those people who are not sales people but who have to sell are far more open which is good, but they can be that way as they have lots of other things to do. Their reviewers are generally not that saes savvy so it’s a more  relaxed affair.
I have looked up the dictionary definition of “review” and nowhere does it state that the person being reviewed should be beaten up for not getting an order on the date they promised, nor does it say that people outside of the sales discipline should tell sales people what to do and how to do it. So we need to ask the question why are people constantly reviewed? Because there are very few accepted sales qualifications (I know of one degree level course), sales is part of the curriculum in no more than two per cent of Business Studies degrees and there is no sales module in any MBAs, I put it down to poor education. While this is a deplorable situation (watch this space for a quantum leap in formal sales qualifications) sadly this is not the case. The truth of the matter is the dominant management style in Britain is CONTROLLING; micro management or command and control is the way most managers work. To quote one of the most successful managers in English football, the late Brian Clough. “We’ll discuss it for five minutes then we’ll do it my way”! Hold on I hear you say, Clough was really successful and that is true, but he was not a manager, he was a leader. And he had a right hand man, Peter Taylor who was an exceptional coach. It is the coaching approach that will obviate the reviewing culture that is so common in sales.
I can hear the next question now. “How will I know what is going on if I don’t review my people”? As I said earlier reviewing is a flawed process, so start to concentrate on the “hows” of the job rather than just the “whats”. Spending time with your people understanding their issues, helping them to find solutions, helping them to develop their own performance improvement plans, supporting them through their development process and trusting them more will create a peer to peer relationship, rather than one of manager/subordinate. As the relationship develops the coach will become trusted and will gain more insights into the exact position in sales campaigns. The person being coached will become more engaged with their manager and their organisation. The outcomes will be better motivated, higher performing and loyal sales people. This is not theory as I did it for several years as a first line sales manager and never held a review of any sort. However, I will admit it was a case of unconscious competence.
How is it applicable to other parts of a company? Those of you in manufacturing will know and many will understand continuous improvement. At its heart continuous improvement (CI) is based upon mutual trust, employee engagement and empowerment. The removal of unnecessary work, that we discussed last time, is also a key component. Not only does CI work in manufacturing but it is deployed in many types of business including the public sector. If you would like to know more about CI, contact me through Linked In.
As the year end is nigh, remember, there are only 40 selling days until Christmas; only do things that help your people sell, a daily review of their prospects does not help!