A sales rep’s diary: The fluff factor in sales management
When the 300 Spartans led by King Leonidas were faced by the Persian army who were numerically superior to them, they weren’t fazed. Not for a moment. They held their head high, stood to the ground, fought off and killed a majority of the Persian soldiers. They proved to be undefeatable till, well, *spoiler alert* they were betrayed and every single one of them died. King Leonidas’s death was nothing short of inspiring. So much so that the whole of Greece was inspired and a group of 30,000 Greeks and 10,000 Spartans avenged their king’s death a year later. Now, these Greeks and Spartans didn’t know if they’d win or lose the war. But they went in for the kill anyway because that’s the degree of brotherhood and fraternity King Leonidas instilled in them.
Their sense of kinship stood unscathed even in such a dire situation. How? Trust.
Trust can do wonders in teams.
Ask the sales manager.
Goal-setting can be convoluted without trust. Let’s say a sales manager isn’t sure if he trusts the sales team. He balloons the actual goal and gives his team an inflated one. Now, this can pan out in a lot of ways. In a fairy tale, the sales team will get motivated to perform better and ends up achieving the goal. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a fairy tale. The most likely outcome is: sales reps being put under a great deal of stress because of all the false pressure.
Sales works on a lot of pressure. It is very easy to get carried away with the amount of pressure being put on the SDRs. Hari Ganapathy, the founder of PickYourTrail talked about false pressure in one of his interviews with People In Sales (our interview series – it’s super awesome. You should check it!). Here’s what he said:
“One major lesson my boss taught me, something that still keeps me going is “Never build false pressure”. Irony is that, sales works on a lot of pressure. So, whenever I tell my targets to the team, I tell them the real numbers and not the inflated numbers. Because a lot of time is spent on second-guessing the numbers. At first, they had a hard time believing me. They were all like “You say 500 but you mean 300 right?” Once they figured out that I was, in fact, stating the real numbers, the operations were really smooth. It built a lot of trust amongst us on each other. We managed to double the revenue in about 13 months.”
Any team that works together can function way better if they trust each other.
A little bit of trust could’ve averted the whole Wells Fargo scandal. Instead of thrusting wild sales goals on each SDR, if they’d stopped and taken a step back to assess the whole scenario and figured out more effective ways to grow as an organisation, then maybe, just maybe, Wells Fargo wouldn’t be known just for the scandal.
This is what Jacci Levine, the Sales Director of H.Bloom told us (again, for our ‘People In Sales’ interview series) when asked how she rallies her sales team around:
“I don’t believe in the whole “fluff” factor of sales management. My management approach is super transparent and real. I think being straightforward is the best way to get people to understand what’s needed of them. For example, when we’re underperforming I’ll say things like “We’re not where we need to be, You all and I know we can do better. Let’s get to work.” Simple and to the point. Beating around the bush or building false pressure actually complicates the process of getting things done. Sometimes all your team needs to hear from you is the truth, plainly laid out, no fluff.”
When there is no fluff and you tell like it is, your emotions are real; the fears you transfer to the sales team about not meeting the goals are genuine. It’s in this shared vulnerability that a fraternity is born. A sales team led by a transparent leader who encourages solidarity and harmony is more capable than a sales team driven by false pressure.
A writer by day. Illustrator by night. Currently trying to conquer the B2B marketing world one baby step at a time. Loves everything outside her comfort zone.