Spring-boarding off of last week’s post from “Engagement World,” we might ask ourselves how (or if) we are engaging our sales team.
Regrettably, the data shows that only 25% of the workforce trusts organizational leadership! Fortunately the trust level in direct supervisors is higher.
This is critically-important for sales leaders or small business owners because buying decisions are significantly impacted by the engagement level and attitude exemplified by the sales team. In fact, the data shows that well over half of all buying decisions are driven by the emotional part of the brain!
Based on findings shared by the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) and the Enterprise Engagement Alliance (EEA), three best practices for engaging your team are:
- Invest your time in one-on-one sessions with each sales team member – preferably done on a weekly basis at a consistently-scheduled time (i.e, “same time each week). The agenda for these one-on-one sessions should include an activity review, opportunity or pipeline discussion, strategy and planning session. The tone should be supportive.
- Collaboration – invest your time by making joint sales calls, both in the field and via conference calls. By “working deals” with the sales team you will not only show support, but you will also learn about marketplace preferences while adding an important layer to customer and prospect relationships
- Provide the team with professional development opportunities. Training and development are inextricably tied to engagement, and higher engagement levels are inextricably tied to attitude and discretionary effort.
Author Timothy R. Clark summed-it-up nicely when he said, “Highly engaged employees MAKE the customer experience. Disengaged employees BREAK it.”
Several past posts have focused on the subject of engagement, with the ultimate objective being to engage the extended enterprise.
The challenge for many organizations has been how to foster and profit from engagement, whether it be with customers, channel partners, employees, suppliers, or the community. Some consider engagement to be among the soft-skills and haven’t pursued it from a return-on-investment perspective, while others have followed the traditional, though less-effective path of simply trying to make their workforce happier.
But as it turns out, “the soft skills are the hard part” and the data shows that a “happy” workforce is not necessarily a more productive one. So in order to truly benefit from an engagement effort it is important to incorporate specific goals and metrics – to take out the “warm-and-fuzzy.”
Along those lines, the emerging field of enterprise engagement is based on 20 years of research, and provides a straightforward framework for identifying what people need to do to accomplish specific organizational goals, and for helping and empowering them do it.
Enterprise engagement has been an area of concentration over the past year, and several recent posts have focused on the subject, including engaging the imagination of others and engagement beyond the workforce.
We recently came across a related article that we found interesting and that earned a few thousand “likes” on LinkedIn: “Here’s Why Good Employees Quit.”
While a number of reasons are listed, author Mary Davids, a Leadership & Professional Development Consultant, identifies four primary reasons why good employees leave for “greener” pastures:
- Poor recognition/rewards
- Hiring or promotions
Whether you are a sales manager, business executive or business owner, becoming “interested” is an important component of driving your organization’s sales and business development effort.
While great amounts of emphasis are more commonly placed on striving to become “interesting” in our interaction with others, consider the concept of becoming more “interested” and how it influences the various people involved.
As a sales manager, one of our primary responsibilities is to motivate the team. This typically involves helping sales people maintain a positive attitude as well as a belief in their ability to get the job done; it also involves managing processes so people stay focused on the right things, and leading people toward mutual goal achievement.
It is not easy work.
It can become easier, however, when we find ways to consistently exhibit an honest interest in the work being done by our sales team. And please note, this means becoming “interested” not only after the work has been done, but also while the work is being done! An after-the-fact or “rear-view mirror” approach to management can only yield judgment about past performance; but our “interest” while work is in progress enables us to influence results – hopefully for the better!