I once had a customer who was a bit of a maverick in his marketplace and in the industry. He has since passed away, but Chuck Forcey was a character. When he was in the military, he flew planes and was on an elite fighter team…and he brought his irreverent ways with him.
Fortunately, he had a commander who was tougher and more focused than Chuck was and while he respected and appreciated what Chuck brought to the team, he refused to let the team be defined by one of its members. To address a particularly aberrant behavior, the commander pulled Chuck aside and told him: “You are a valued member of this team…and you will have a place on this team as long as your contribution exceeds your aggravation…and not a moment longer.” I LOVE that measure of relationships … and don’t we all use something like that, even if it’s not as clearly stated? Think about it as you evaluate design project clients, hire new associates, work for rogue employers…and maybe closer to home, too.
My sister, Jill Simoes, a masterful sales leader and I were having a conversation over dinner last night. She was discussing a trade show that she attended with her sales teams – as an observer, as their leader, and as support where needed. We were discussing the construct of the sales process, with specific interactions that she viewed and participated in.
When she observed, she watched as the sales associates connected, asked a few questions and proceeded to talk until there was nothing left to talk about…with no next steps in mind. When Jill stepped in, she asked questions – lots of questions, out of interest to understand the prospect and their situation better, out of a desire to hear what the prospect is struggling with that she/they can help with and to determine what (other) product/service offerings will benefit the prospect.
A highlight was that one of her sales associates performed exquisitely. Her engaging was natural, her questions fluid and flowed from question to answer to the next question, and her ability to offer information and solutions was appropriate for the stage at which their conversation occurred. AND she created the next steps before they left the space. Jill took a moment to ask her: “Do you know how skilled and talented you are?”…which was received with surprise and humility and continued to become a mentor/mentee arrangement that begins this week!
As a sales leader, are you listening for their greatness or their shortcomings? Are you listening for where they take the sales opportunity now and what they close for today and tomorrow?
Your salespeople follow your lead – take an opportunity and see where you can take it. Show them how it’s done.