Okay, let’s just say it salespeople are nuts! Do not mistake that statement for the more often proclaimed myth that salespeople are babies. They are nuts, but they’re not babies. And since I count myself as one of them, I can relate from the inside of the twisted mind of a salesperson.
Those of us who live out there on the right-hand side of the brain the side that shuns accountability and structure aren’t always the easiest people to manage. If you’ve got children, you already know that they can ask for the same thing over and over and over again, no matter how many times they hear the word no. Likewise, a child can shrug off a solid butt-kicking and be oblivious to it 10 seconds later, but imagine running your business without us child-like right-brain types.
Most business owners don’t live in the same world that salespeople do. I once had a dealer tell me that because she was all but incapable of understanding salespeople, and really incapable of doing what they do, she finally learned to love those people for what they are. Prior to her awakening, she’d simply tolerated them.
I’ve heard that trying to manage a really talented salesperson or sales team is like herding helium balloons. The best salespeople can’t be managed they’re cannons, and cannons can only be aimed. Create objectives, support them with what they need, and then get out of their way! It’s not an easy concept for a controlling, Type A personality, but what it takes to do a sales job frankly doesn’t necessarily require your skill set and vice versa. Some of the most successful dealers are the ones who’ve reconciled with the fact that if they hired someone easy to manage for the sales department, they’d be out of business so they’d better start "loving" them for the wackos they are.
We’ve gotta learn to treat salespeople like the cannons they are and not the babies they are all too often treated like. Face it, if you treat people like babies, you end up doing a lot more babysitting, whether you like it or not. So you’ve gotta learn how to properly point these cannons if you’re ever gonna get the best out of them.
Here are three steps to successful deployment of those cannons. Aim them, pull the trigger … and then plug your ears!
Aim them with a structured sales process. Don’t let them survive on talent alone. Great salespeople hate structure by their very nature. More accurately, the environment that salespeople are comfortable working in requires that they’re comfortable without structure, where most people get nervous. Without rules, they somehow can turn nothing into something.
Author of Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey, in his explanation of "Stewardship Delegation" suggests giving people a clear picture of the desired results. With salespeople, you can’t just tell ’em to sell more bikes, either. You’ve also gotta give them a system to use to achieve those results. Any system with a sequence of measurable objectives is a good start.
Once you’re able to direct their energy and talent with a process, and inspect what you expect from them with a comprehensive sales tracking system, then you’ve gotta get out of the way. Pull the trigger and watch them do what they do. The gifted ones do what they do best by just plain being likeable. When you can add process to those people, you’ve got a really explosive combination.
And lastly, don’t forget to plug your ears. Most of the stuff that falls out of the mouth a gifted salesperson, he’s hearing for the first time … just like you are. Don’t take the way salespeople talk seriously because most of them work things out verbally. Let us do the story telling and the bragging about the last sale we made, it’s how we keep that ego energized enough to straddle the ever-so-fine line between being nuts … and just being babies.