The Wisdom of the Dog Whisperer and Sales Leadership

Having a Golden Retriever and two kids, I naturally watch a lot of dog training shows. 🙂 Before you think I’m completely degrading my kids, “The Dog Whisperer” speaks more about the principles of being a parent or even a VP of Sales than just a pack leader to your pet. It’s about the importance of rewarding good behavior and disciplining for bad. The most important factor in these rules is being consistent with the rules.

If you are not consistent with the rules, (i.e. when the same behavior is sometimes rewarded and sometimes punished) the dog becomes stressed, confused, and starts to take no commands at all.

I’ve seen this dynamic more often than not with sales managers. It’s very common in new managers but it’s very concerning when you see it in a VP of Sales – how long have you been leading this way and how did you get to this position?

An example of this would be celebrating the deal more than the process of getting a deal closed. Closing a deal is the result of the fuel you put in every day, the prospecting, the check in calls, the nurturing angles, the business cases, the art of a good proposal, the buyer call, and more importantly – the “pick yourself up, dust off and do it again” side of sales. In fact, the best sales people make losing look like winning because they did everything necessary to close the deal, but instead of closing the deal they found a way to get a win in other areas. If you pay attention to this process, the little wins during the process and celebrate the execution of it, the more deals will come – that’s predictable success.

If the individuals on your team feel like they had a successful day than they are more inspired to succeed the next day. Setting the right expectation on a daily basis will help your folks understand whether their day was a success or not.

As an example for front end sales:

Did you send out 20 emails, connect with 10 people, write two new posts within your LinkedIn groups that are knowledgeable, share 3 times and comment twice on twitter posts from your network in a positive way and end the day with a clear definition of what the plan to achieve your ultimate goal the next day.

Sales is unpredictable, but this is predictable – if you do it every day than you can predict success.

If sales folks aren’t putting in the effort on a daily basis to fuel and influence their pipe, then you have to either look at yourself to figure out whether you acknowledge the fuel in the first place or, if you do, tell the person who isn’t putting in the effort what’s expected – if they don’t perform the basics they will never master the art of sales.

If done well, you will lead a culture of predictable success but if done poorly and celebrate the deals that didn’t follow any process or rhyme, you run the risk of dismantling everything. You need to be understand that in order for this to be a success you need to set the tone that success starts with consistently hustling, practicing and achieving on a daily basis. This isn’t meant to be a micro-manager type of quota system but an emphasis on the importance of the basics.

We’re no different than dogs, we like routine, structure and direction which will open up what is possible within every sales person. If every day’s success weighs on whether or not deals are coming through than your team will only be focused on pressure tactics to close business (the wrong way) as opposed to nurturing, challenging and selling solutions (the right way). If everyone is anxious about the consequences of not closing a deal every day, they won’t pay attention to what actually closes business – the process.

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