Every manager at one point or another is overwhelmed with a feeling that their team just doesn’t care. When this happens, they try everything they can think of, from motivational activities and rewards, to courses, books, tapes, DVDs, blogs, portals, lectures, podcasts, apps and more. They hope these will help them “improve.” However, when managers look for a “quick fix,” take a shotgun approach or follow the hottest trend, they lose sight of their core direction and objectives.
Instead of jumping on the bandwagon, managers need to step back and evaluate. Only then can they develop and execute a plan of ongoing, consistent training and education that effectively addresses the needs of individuals and the team. With a clear game plan, they can focus on coaching and developing their salespeople. In doing so, managers put their salespeople in a position to succeed, whether by improving their sales or building a database of prospects.
Three basic steps are required to develop and deliver successful training and educational programs.
- Define success. Create an overall goal for the business. Ideally, how should the business function? Include the brand image and awareness, customer loyalty, the culture, sales execution, employee performance and turn-over in every department.
- Set personal professional goals. What is your vision? How will you measure your effectiveness as a leader, coach and manager? What path will you take to achieve these goals and to ensure the team is on track to achieve the overall business goal?
- Secure, analyze and understand performance data for the business, each department and each individual. Monitor it continually. This is crucial in developing an effective and relevant training and education program. Only by identifying areas that need improvement can managers address their own weaknesses and coach for success.
A Manager’s Job
Managers understand that their job is to help each of their salespeople succeed. When they succeed, the manager succeeds. And, if the salespeople fail, the manager fails as well.
Managers must help each individual establish attainable goals that align with the business goals. They should help each person understand their expected outcomes and coach, guide, train and educate for continuous improvement.
Many managers overlook these five basic steps that are imperative in helping their people develop action plans for improvement.
Step 1 – Career Goals: Understand each salesperson’s long-term goals and how they fit into your business. Be honest. Work together. Listen. Develop an attainable plan.
Step 2 – Self-assessment: The next step is to help the employee conduct an honest self-evaluation. Have the salesperson make a list of their individual attributes using one page for each of the following:
- Strengths – characteristics that give them an advantage
- Weaknesses – characteristics that place them at a disadvantage
- Attitude – what beliefs, feelings, values and dispositions exist that influence the individual to act in a certain way
- Challenges – elements that might interfere with the opportunities to improve
As part of this process, challenge employees to think about why they work here. In other words, why this business instead of one down the street?
Step 3 – Guide employees and as they establish a SMART plan: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.
Set goals that address three phases of career development:
- Short-term – the first year
- Mid-term – two to five years
- Long-term – five years plus
Step 4 – Feedback: Without proper feedback it is impossible to adapt or adjust to the required behavior. Ask questions that guide employees through a self-evaluation. Have a conversation where employees identify and talk about the areas where they need to improve. Then, as a manager, you can guide and coach them.
Step 5 – Adjust and Reward: Adjust the plan to ensure it meets the desired outcome. Work with employees weekly or even daily to assess and steer them in the right direction. As goals are attained, reward the employee for their efforts.
Not every employee is motivated in the same way, or seeks to be No. 1 — and that’s OK. A manager’s job is to work with each person to determine what “growing in their role,” means so they can contribute to the performance of the organization. Managers with winning teams understand and appreciate the diversity of the people in their business. They know how to create “heroes in every role.” They recognize that since everyone has unique strengths, helping people become more of whom they already are, often may be the best way to improve their performance.
Even with a plan in place, the process of improving doesn’t happen automatically. When managers build a finely tuned team through goal setting, training, educating and coaching, they will put the business on the road to success.