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Rule #6: Create self-sufficiency.
Don’t fix but explore. You know as sales leaders, how many times in a given week do people come in and say, “I’ve got a big call tomorrow. What would you do, Dave?” Intuitively, I know what to do, and every ounce of my being wants to say, “Do this, this, this and this.” But the problem with that is that they didn’t connect the dots. They didn’t do any of the heavy lifting, and if they run into a roadblock during the call, they won’t know how to get out of it because it’s my solution. If you want to make your team self-sufficient, you have to stop rescuing them. We rescue people for a couple of different reasons. It’s almost as if somebody comes into our office and says, “Hey, I’ve got a call tomorrow. It’s really tricky. What would you do?” I love the word, tricky, because oh-oh, it gets all the creative juices going for me.
I rip open my shirt, and there’s this big ‘S’ on my body, super salesperson. I hated what I was doing. I was doing reports for senior execs. Hate that. They come in, and it feeds into that I love that part of my job. I love problem-solving. I love looking like a great sales person in front of my team, so I jump in with the answer, or I’m pressed for time. I’ve got 18 hours of work to do in three hours, so I say, “I don’t have time. Do this, this, this and this.” They leave saying, “Okay.” I know in my heart of hearts they don’t do anything I just said. I feel good about myself, but the problem is my people are falling into learned helplessness. They don’t think for themselves. I’d rather you change the rules up.
When people come to you for help, have them come to you with a suggestion on how they would solve the problem and look to you to validate how they’re going to do it. When you’re validating versus creating a solution, it is much better because you’ve moved away from learned helplessness. If you create it, to validate is self-sufficiency. Here’s the other thing that you could ask when people walk in, “Out of curiosity, what are two or three things that you would do to solve this problem?” Or you could say, “I’m happy to help you. If you didn’t find me today, I wasn’t in the office. I was out with a customer. How would you solve the problem?”
What I’d doing is I’m taking it, and I’m saying, “I’m happy to help you but (cluck) how would you do it?” I’m doing that for a couple of reasons. One, they should learn how to connect the dots. They should be self-sufficient. I want them to operate at maximum efficiency when I’m not around. Secondly, the ego. The same thing that I felt when I gave you the answers, I want them to feel. I want them to have the confidence and conviction in their response. Not the confidence and conviction that I have all the answers. Don’t do your kids homework, because ultimately, they have no idea what that math course was. You know that. And, don’t do all the work for your sales people. It’s the same result. I want people to be able to think and do on their own. How that happens isn’t by doing it for them. Good luck.
THE SANDLER RULES FOR SALES LEADERS details a sales management process that works. It offers 49 timeless, proven principles for effective sales leadership, based on the Sandler Selling System. The book is the sequel to the Wall Street Journal bestseller THE SANDLER RULES, also authored by David Mattson.