Myth #6:The top performers define management ability. Managers often point to their top performers as an indicator of how successful they are as sales managers. However, while the manager may have hired that top performer or grown him or her into that role, the success of that individual is more likely to reflect that person’s drive and ability, rather than anything the manager brought to the table.
Truth #6: The worst performers define management ability. The worst performing sales person on the team illustrates exactly the manager will accept, because that person remains employed. What’s more, the worst performer acts as a drag upon the rest of the team, who are well aware that they must work harder in order to cover for the manager’s willingness to tolerate poor performance.
Myth #5: The manager’s job is to have the answers. Each time a manager answers an employee’s question, he or she becomes a thief. The manager has robbed that person of the opportunity to think and the opportunity to grow. While experience has value, people don’t learn when that hard-won wisdom is handed over on a platter, much less forced down their throat.
Truth #5: The manager’s job is to ask the right questions. The trick to managing effectively is being able to spark, in the employee’s own mind, the thought processes and ideas that will make the employee successful. Great manager know the “magic questions” that help employees discover where they need to improve and how, and which get the commitment necessary to make the improvement. (Bill: These magic questions are the Five Development and Three Commitment questions we reviewed last Saturday)
Myth #4: Quota is an employee management tool. Quota defines the minimum performance standard of an organization and the individual inside that organization. Managers place maximum emphasis on attaining quota. Therefore, when quota is used as a management tool, managers are placing maximum emphasis on minimum performance. The result is entirely predictable: the entire sales team aims at the minimum standard and seldom exceeds it.
Truth #4: Quota is a corporate measurement tool. Quota is simply what the organization needs to achieve in order to fulfill its goals. Quota has nothing to do with what the employee wants from his or her employment with the organization. It does not motivate, even when managers use it as a club to beat employees about the head and shoulders toward the end of the month.
Myth #3: Management’s first responsibility is to make the numbers. While numbers are important, they are always the history of what’s happened in the past. Treating the numbers as the top priority leads to jiggling the revenue stream, pushing revenue into different quarters, and (worst case) cooking the books to make the numbers look good.
Truth #3: Management’s first responsibility is to manage activities. While a manager cannot (honestly) manage the numbers, a manager can always manage the activities that lead to the numbers. If you focus on what the sales team is doing, and measuring the effectiveness of each activity, the numbers become a foregone conclusion that needs little attention.
Myth #1: Managers should put the customer first. When managers preach and practice this longstanding axiom, they overlook their employees, who are responsible for creating and nurturing the customer relationship. Customers quickly learn they can bypass the rep and get what they want by appealing to the manager, resulting in lousy morale, high turnover, and customer dissatisfaction.
Truth #1: Manager must put their employees first. Managers should communicate regularly and comprehensively with employees, and work through them when communicating with the customer. Managers should never undercut their employee’s authority to deal with customer issues.