Okay, the title might seem like a silly
play on words, but I hope this message will be heard by the sales managers out
there. I had dinner this past week with a personal client that I counsel on
sales management topics. The CEO asked me to meet with her and her two sales managers.
They recently, as of January, hired a few very junior-level sales reps, and
these new team members have had a few recent struggles in the lead generation
and prospecting area. I was asked to help understand the possibilities of why
this was occurring and what could be done to change course.
As the conversation progressed, it did
not take long for me to realize that the two sales managers have stopped
managing the juniors, and have left them to “watch & learn” from the more
senior folks. Instead of teaching and mentoring, they put the juniors in the
position of shadowing, and told them to simply emulate what they see and hear
from the senior sales reps.
And so, as I expected, the junior-level
reps were watching people 10, 20 and 30 years their senior making cold calls,
talking with long-time clients on the telephone, and engaging in sales meetings
with relative ease. The problem is, these seniors have experience. They’ve been
there and done that – long before these juniors were in school. They are the
trained professionals, but no one told the juniors not to do this at home. In
other words, the juniors were asked to emulate their seniors, but they
themselves were not senior (ie experienced or trained).
We spent the remainder of our evening
talking about the best way to right track the course they were currently on.
And, it wasn’t that hard to do. The first part of the plan was to immediately
pull the juniors back from shadowing. Put them in a classroom (conference room)
and use this as an exploratory opportunity. Talk with the juniors about what
they’ve seen, heard and learned. What are the positive elements? What are the
negatives? What has worked for them and what has not?
The next step is to put in place a “back
to basics” training plan. Teach from the ground up how to prospect and develop
a qualified lead generation plan. Work through the telephone calling and
emailing approach that is both personal and professional. Teach and make sure
these young sales talents understand that they must not only act mature but
truly be mature in order to match wits with the prospect.
The reality is this: you are not me and
I am not you. We may learn from the same teacher, but our approaches to sales
may be slightly different, and they should be. It is important that each person
showcase their talent and personality in the sales process without losing focus
on their company’s game plan and strategy. It is perfectly acceptable, and in
fact expected, that young sales people shadow their seniors. But, in theirs and
your best interest, don’t ever ask them to emulate someone else. We are trained
professionals – do not try this at home.