As a sales leader, you’re measured by your team’s performance. Ultimately, you’re judged based on their ability to generate revenues sufficient to meet or exceed your corporate goals. So no matter how good you may have once been as a seller, it’s important to understand that selling is not your job now … and you can’t expect to generate enough revenue to meet your team’s quotas simply by acting as a player-coach. Therefore, you need to get as much out of your team as possible. How to do that? One important part of the answer is to send them the workplace equivalent of a Valentine … by proving beyond a shadow of a doubt just how much you appreciate them.
If you let your people know that you care and make it easy for them to conclude that you have their best interests at heart, they will produce more, and stay with you longer, than they will if they are in doubt about these things. That’s the reality. So: What do you do to get the message through? Here are three ideas to consider.
Treat them just like you would treat a customer. Studies show that one of the main reasons both good employees and our best customers leave our organization is that they don’t feel appreciated. This brings up an interesting question. Do you treat your salespeople the same way you would treat your very best customer? If you can start thinking of your relationships with your team members in this way, that’s a step in the right direction – and perhaps the most important step.
Find out what they love to do in their off time. It’s remarkable to me how many sales leaders have never bothered to find out what hobbies or outside interests their individual team members are pursuing. Take the person out to lunch … and find out! Then, once a quarter, send a quick note asking them how things are going in that area. You can also pass along a relevant magazine article. For instance, I like to fly fish. Pretend I’m you’re salesperson, and you know that about me. Imagine how the relationship would improve if you were to send me a quick note on fly fishing, accompanied by a link to an article about a popular local fishing spot in my area. The message might read: “Dave, I saw this article, and it reminded me of you. I thought you might like to read it.” Total time invested: Five minutes. Impact on the relationship: Priceless!
Give strokes for a job well done. Strokes are things that make people feel good. Authentic, heartfelt positive reinforcement focused on individual performance is a classic – and too often overlooked – strategy for making members of the sales team feel appreciated. Everyone likes acknowledgment for a job well done, but note that there are three important rules to bear in mind here. First: consider the person’s temperament. Yes, lots of people like public praise, but not everyone does. For some salespeople, calling out something that they’ve done well will be highly motivating when the callout happens during a team meeting or other group gathering. For a minority of salespeople, though – the folks who would rather work on their own and prefer to avoid the spotlight – a private one-on-one expression of appreciation will be much more welcome. Rule number two: Make sure you mean it. Praising someone inauthentically will backfire. Rule number three: Don’t just praise the closed sales. Celebrate the behavioral wins along the way, the activity benchmarks that make the closed sales possible!
Spend some one-on-one time. This is also known as a time stroke. Grab a cup of coffee with the salesperson; just sit and talk for a while. Find out something about this person that you didn’t know before. Focus on both business and personal topics. Get to know the whole person! With a remote salesperson, a phone call works just as well. Spending this kind of time shows the salesperson that you are making them a priority. The more one-on-one time you spend with a salesperson, the deeper the connection you will create.
Implement these four simple ideas, and the members of your sales team will send you a Valentine of their own: higher production totals, combined with a deeper level of engagement with your organization and its mission.