Updated: Oct 8, 2020
Salesforces across the country are made up of for the most part hard working professionals. Like in any job there are always a few outliers, looking for a quick buck, or to light up your smoke, but there is some place that they would rather be. Actually, that is a line from a Billy Joel song, but you get my drift. The vast majority selling today appreciate sales leadership that is honest, straightforward and has a little skin in the game. After all, if you cannot learn sales from those above you and then above them what is the real point in sales leadership. A basic tenet is that everyone in a sales organization that is in a sales role should be knowledgeable in sales and be able to conduct the sales process of that product. Imagine the Chief Pilot of an airline who is unable to fly a plane. Not only is it not possible, but that Chief pilot usually flies the line to keep their license current during the year. It also serves the purpose to let the more junior pilots learn from those with more experience and for the Chief to see how the world is operating at ground level. Is this something you see in your sales organization today, I am curious?
When we get into it, Salespeople have some basic needs and wants. Yes, of course they want to be able to make money and have an achievable goal and compensation plan, but beyond that they want trust, that they will do the right thing and get the job done. They would like to be heard when they are asked for feedback and they give it, and they do not want to be micromanaged. Additionally, they want support and expertise when they need it and yes, most salespeople want to be coached as long as it is someone who can coach and make them better. I am sure you too have heard the horror stories about the Sales Vice Presidents who have never been out on a sales call in their organization. Or the Sales Leaders, who ride around in the field with their people but never get out of the car to go on the sales calls. Or even the Sales Leaders who only go on calls to a part of the country where they have family or personal interests. Recently, I chatted with an agent that spends most of their Monday’s on Zoom calls doing role plays to learn canned verbiage that their leader wants them to regurgitate with their prospects. Turns out the sales leader has never sold a day in their life but feels this is the best use of his tenured teams time. It begs asking the question,” If the fox is guarding the henhouse, who is watching the fox?
Too often in sales today, selling is the salesperson’s problem. Eventually if the salesperson is not successful it will be their problem, but it should not be the go-to move for a sales organization to abandon learning growth. Sales is only as good as the talent they possess, the product they sell and the training they are given, backed by their leaderships support. In my opinion the most successful sales organizations are those where the very top Executives as well as those underneath them can articulate in detail the value of a product their organization sells. When that is left entirely to the salesforce it can breed resentment and discontent. Can you imagine if all in sales leadership were forced to role play with their boss, and they had to prove that they knew the product as much if not more than the person in the field did? I would pay front row admission for that seat.
Do not get me wrong either. The Sales Leadership profession is amassed in experienced, well intentioned, and dedicated professionals that have their salespeople’s best interests at heart. There just must be a better process to safeguard this role but at the same time make accountability for performance a shared responsibility. Sales Leadership is a value added role, the challenge is to avoid being NVA ( No Value Added) by constantly checking in with your salespeople to confirm that what you are doing with them is valuable, worthy and contributing to their success. It does not have to be submissive; it should never be submissive; you are in fact the leader and unless you are like the few, I described above, you have earned those stripes. So, wear them proud, embrace the challenge of leading others, but do not forget you are a sales leader and that means you must sell too. Then it will be do as I do, not as I say, that will be a lot more pleasing to the folks that report to you.
Roger McNamara Bio:
Roger is a 25+-year veteran of the Payments Industry, most recently as the Director of Business Development with American Express in the US. He has worked on the largest Acquisition targets for acceptance across multiple Industries and across the globe that include : Airlines, Communications, Technology, Cruise Lines, Entertainment, Fractional Jet, Freight, Government, Healthcare, Insurance, Oil & Gas, Residential Rent, Restaurants, QSR’s, Retail, Services, Supermarkets, Travel, Vehicle Sales, B2B and Wholesale. Over that time, he has sold more than $200 Billion worth of Card processing and became an expert in Bankcard Interchange and Discount Rates, how they are calculated and what merchant pay to accept Credit and how this is dramatically different from what they believe they pay. He is an expert in Merchant Statement analysis and payment processing and the rules and regulations associated with payments and the associations. Roger has also developed the insight for Merchant Services Salesforces and salesforces in general to be able to better position their products and gain share particularly in B2B. Let him show you how you can too. He can be reached at Guide2Interchange@gmail.com