Having a Golden Retriever and two kids, I naturally watch a lot of dog training shows. 🙂 Dog training shows can teach you a ton about parenting and leadership. Before you think I’m completely degrading my kids or employees, there are a ton of great examples of how Cesar Millan ‘s lessons in “The Dog Whisperer” can translate peaks to being a great leader. It’s about the importance of rewarding the right behavior and the discipline of good habits. 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. Most importantly, this practice focuses on all of the finger prints needed to close a deal, learn how you won / why you lost and makes you adapt for the next set.
If everyone on the team feels like they had a successful day and accomplished something, then they are more inspired to to do it again 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. Create the right habits and do them every day, this will lead to 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 at the expense of celebrating a victory. If you don’t know what led to the success than how can you expect to repeat it?
We’re no different than dogs, we like routine, structure and direction which will open up what is possible within every sales person. Set the tone that success starts and ends with consistency. 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.