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It’s fairly common for sales managers to feel they are “too nice,” but most fear changing their ways.

Some salespeople, steady producers who don’t want to be pushed toward greater success, think their managers are great. This is due to not being challenged to move from their comfort zones.

Then, there are under-performing reps who have a decent relationship to their managers, but are resistant to coaching. When asked to do something, they always have reasons they can’t get it done. Most of these managers do little more than listen to their excuses. They don’t want to push too hard and upset their sellers, as this may result in some of them quitting.

Sales Managers Are Not Paid to Be Popular

Everybody no doubt wants to be liked, but this emotion must be balanced with holding people accountable. That’s where the struggle is. Managers are paid to help their people become more valuable in order to get the results they need. Additionally they need to create situations where their intentions are clear and facilitate respect. This way both sides win. There must be follow through by the reps and follow up by management.

Managers Are Regularly Tested

Over time sales reps convince managers with their consistent excuses for under performance. When that is coupled with manager fear of calling them out, large numbers of salespeople fail. When a seller needs to become more consistent in certain activities or improve on certain skill sets and managers don’t enforce these, they telegraph that there are no consequences. So why should their sales reps change?

Timeout for a moment. “I’m a successful sales manager today partially due to Doug’s weekly online coaching that helped me refocus me and taught me that a manager can be good and tough at the same time. You should take a few minutes and bumble around his website and get a feel for what I’m talking about.” Calvin T. Sales Manager, Baytown, Tx.

Push the Reset Button

The best way forward to create a more effective culture of accountability and relationships, is through one-on-one conversations. Managers must begin by resetting expectations and establishing new accountabilities. This should be followed with sharing the WIIFM of this new direction for them. It’s a simple process of what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and what’s in it for you.

According to Kevin Davis, noted sales coach, the following questions are good for managers to ask during these “reset conversations:”

Questions to Build Accountability

  1. What are you willing to commit to?
  2. How can I best manage you? Why type of management style do you respond to best?
  3. If we were to switch roles, how would you handle this in my position?
  4. How can I hold you accountable for the results you are looking to achieve?
  5. If you couldn’t use this excuse how would you go forward to achieve your desired results?
  6. How can I accomplish this in a way that will sound supportive rather than negative?
  7. What approach should I take if you don’t follow through with the commitments you make? What would be a good way to bring this up?

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Self-Reflective Questions that Get People to Articulate the Cost

  1. If you continue this way, what will it cost you?
  2. What repercussions would you experience by continuing to engage in that behavior?
  3. How does your behavior affect you and those around you?
  4. If you continue doing what you are currently doing, where do you think you will end up?
  5. How do you think this will affect your career goals? Your reputation? Your team?

When you ask precision questions like these, they create the rules of the game. Salespeople begin to tell you how they want to be managed. It goes back to the basics that they resist what you tell them but believe what they tell themselves.

The Culture Shift

Be prepared for the results. Often some of your under-performers will move on and resign. These should be replaced with candidates who are better fits for your team. Additionally, your better producing sellers will take it to the next level as you begin to inspect what you expect.

Once your sales room becomes an excuse free zone, because of your follow through on promises and commitments, everyone wins!

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