Fable Friday: Do you really like to play basketball? A sales management tip

At an NBA post-game reception in the early 70’s, a fan approached NY Knicks star Bill Bradley and asked, “Do you really like to play basketball?”  Bradley replied that he liked it more than anything else he had ever done.

The fan went on to explain his question.  He had played the trumpet all through college and was pretty good.  His band toured and made good money, but after college when he had the opportunity to make records and stick with it, he opted instead for law school. His thinking was that the music business would not be a safe, predictable way of life.

Bradley asked him if he liked being a lawyer today and the fan replied, “It’s good, but it’s nothing like playing the trumpet.”

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedYou can find that story here, but now let’s fast forward to February, 1984.  I took my 11-year old son to Madison Square Garden for a Knicks-Nets game because they were going to retire Bradley’s number 24.  I was a huge fan of the Princeton alum, Rhodes Scholar and at that time U.S. Senator from New Jersey and I wanted to hear his speech.

He didn’t disappoint, as he began by recounting the above story, then added to it with these words I’ll paraphrase from so long ago:  “And now today I’m long retired from basketball and serve instead as a U.S. Senator. I love my job and I’m proud to represent the people of New Jersey.  But no matter how much I love it, I have to tell you tonight that it is nothing like hitting a jump shot from the corner in Madison Square Garden in front of 19,000 screaming fans.”

And of course the place erupted in cheers that lasted for a few minutes.  They raised his uniform shirt to the rafters, and Bradley dedicated it to his sister.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

I’m sharing this story with you today for an important reason if you are a sales manager.  After years in the consulting business of sales, sales management and training, I have learned that no matter how hard the sales manager works, no matter how good a coach he is, no matter how dedicated or smart she is, there are always going to be people on the sales team who really don’t love to play basketball.  And when you as a sales manager realize this, there is little you can do to motivate them.

Great sales managers protect their teams by helping those who really don’t like to play basketball find some other game they do like to play, and move them off their own basketball team.

I realize this may sound harsh, as I write so often here about coaching, leading, sound management principles and love for your employees, but consider the good you do when you remove a sales team member who just doesn’t like to sell.

Your team will respect you for not keeping someone who won’t produce, and that improves morale.  You can devote your energies to successful people and outcomes, rather than fruitless remedial activities. And best of all, you’ll help the non-player get started to find the game he does love.

Ask yourself if you have a sales team member who really doesn’t like to play basketball.  You probably do.  Now what are you going to do?

Think Like Your Customer

Let’s practice coaching:  A quiz for you!

You’re the sales manager, and you’re a bit unhappy with Fred’s performance last year. He’s a skilled salesperson, but although he has the same capacity to make calls that all his colleagues have, he simply doesn’t call enough. You’re convinced that if he could simply bump up his call volume, with his close rate he could be your best performer.  Which of the following is best for you to say to Fred, as you sit down to discuss the coming year’s plan and expectations?

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 Cropped1. “Fred, last year you made an average of 12 on-site calls per month, while the rest of the team averaged 18.  And although you just made goal for the year, I’d like to see you do better than that.  You have the capacity to make more calls but for some reason I’m not seeing the performance.  Let’s talk this through. What are your thoughts about next year?”

2. “Fred, two areas that have impressed me are your close ratio and that you consistently make goal year over year.  My thinking is that if we could just focus on getting your call volume up, you would see some impressive results.  I think you can average 20 calls a month with little additional effort.  Now here’s why I think this is important to you. A breakthrough year not only ensures you’ll surpass your goals, but it would also enhance your professional reputation within the team. You’d be a rock star.  But more importantly, a greater call production combined with your sales skill is guaranteed to put more money in your pocket and I’d love to write you a fat bonus check.  So share with me your own thoughts about next year.”

3. “Fred, I’m pleased about the year you just had, once again meeting your sales quota.  One area where I see an opportunity for you would be increasing your call volume.  Last year you averaged 12 calls a month, while the rest of the team averaged 18. I’m sure you have the capacity to make more calls. In fact I’d like to set a target for you of 20 calls per month.  So let’s take a few minutes and talk through this.  What’s getting in the way of your making more calls?”

4. “Fred, before we talk about your plans for next year, let me first congratulate you on last year’s performance, once again meeting your sales quota.  Thank you for your contribution. It makes me feel better to know I have a talented performer like you on my team, someone I can count on.  I’ve been looking over all your numbers, and as far as I can see, given the same capacity as the rest of the team, you could have a great year if you simply bumped up your call volume, say to 20 calls a month or so.  Now I know that there are weeks where you have a lot of proposals and other things to attend to in your pipeline, but on average over the year, 20 per month seems reasonable to me.  Can I put you down for that?”

One of these is poor and I expect you’ll identify it right away.  The others each have some defect and some good points and you can point to anything that strikes you.  So you needn’t score every one.  Just share your observations about any of them, what you liked or didn’t like.  I’ll parse all four of them next week.

Penn Relays Promise

I completely forgot to tell you what happened at the Penn Relays in 1978, part of the Sully story.  The race was not very well organized.  They had you start in front of some library, the steps of which are in the film “Rocky,” and then you ran along the Schuylkill River to some bridge, which you crossed, then turned around and ran back to the start, a distance of just under 4.5 miles.  You did this three times and it was awful.

On my second lap, I came up on a little kid on a bicycle! Why he was there I have no idea, but a big guy coming toward me stepped to avoid the kid and banged right into me, knocking me down. I tore the cartilage in my ribs and had to drop out.  I drove from Philadelphia to upstate New York that night, hardly able to breathe.  Oh well, at least I got the Sully story out of it, and thanks for your great feedback on it.

Think Like Your Customer!

Reward, recognition and the power of leverage

The concept of leverage is fascinating isn’t it?  Archimedes said, “Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.”

So we can consider leverage conceptually as something small that has the power to generate massive movement or force. Here’s an easy example.  Many of my clients are banks, and banks are highly leveraged businesses.  It takes just a small amount of capital to support many times that amount in risk assets (interest-generating loans) although specific requirements vary by country, asset tier and the type of capital in the formula.*

Of course bankers will also point out that many of their commercial customers are also highly leveraged, relying on substantial debt to support their own income-producing assets. Leverage is a finely calculated metric in the business world, where dollars are the common yardstick.

But we’re here to talk about human performance, and as I’ve written before in sales management articles, managers can take advantage of leverage to perform very small but meaningful acts to generate powerful feelings of loyalty and dedication in their workforce.  This dedication results in greater performance and employee retention.  So if you are a manager, and you’re not finding imaginative and powerful ways to reward and recognize employee performance, you are missing one of the greatest leverage tools ever.

Now it’s story time. I have a friend, Laura Euckert, who recently accepted a position with a company that provides aerospace technology services. She does a fine job for them, and they appreciate her contribution.

Laura is also an ultra-marathoner, which for those of you who are not familiar with the term, is a person who runs race distances longer than the standard marathon of 26.2 miles.  Last Sunday I competed against her in a 50 kilometer race (31.1 miles) and I can tell you she is very good, as she has completed over 60 such races, many even longer than 50K.

So now that she has been there long enough to have business cards, her enlightened management team ordered them for her.  Seems like a simple thing, not very expensive or time-consuming right?

Lauras bus cardBut these guys didn’t get into the aerospace business by being dumb.  They used their heads and thought, “What would really light her up?”

I’ll let you judge for yourself. Take a close look at what the business card says.

Of course Laura is thrilled with her new cards, and they do more than just make her smile. Every time that card is handed out to a customer or company provider, it becomes an ice-breaker and relationship-builder for her company.  Those managers knew what they were doing.

If you put your mind to it, you can probably think of dozens of “outside the box,” creative ideas to surprise and delight your team. It only takes your willingness to do so and a “What if?” attitude.

It’s a management tool to help you…

 

Think Like Your Customer

*Basel II requires that the total capital ratio must be no lower than 8%.

What’s the worst word you can use when coaching your sales team?

When you hear the word “coach,” what image comes to your mind?  Do you conjure up a picture of a guy in shorts and a polo shirt with a baseball cap, a clipboard and a whistle around his neck?

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedIt’s too bad the word “coach” has moved from the world of sports into corporate life, because other than the definition of coaching as a collaborative effort to improve performance, there aren’t many other similarities. And in fact there is one huge difference.  In sports coaching, the performer is generally highly motivated to achieve.  The athlete is trying to make the team, play Division One ball, qualify for the Olympics, be on TV, play in the pros, win a Super Bowl, and so on.

Accordingly, the coach can be very prescriptive and dogmatic, as the athlete’s motivation is strong. But in the corporate world, the coach must be an outstanding facilitator and try to draw from the performer a solution to the work problem.  Generally speaking, the average worker in a company is not as driven as the athletes we see on TV, so the methods their coaches use have no place at work.

You recall last week’s post with the under-performing salesperson?  The manager attempted to coach him to meet his goals because the salesperson had performed so strongly in the past.  But it was clear he went about it the wrong way. The salesperson was resentful and said he didn’t need to be coached.

So if you were this manager, the first mistake you made was in telling the salesperson that you were going to coach him through it.  In fact, while I’m on this topic, why do we use the word “coach” at all?  Why not just establish periodic “check-in” or “update” meetings?

That’s what good sales managers do.  They say, “Phil, it’s time once again for us to sit down in a one-on-one and see how you’re progressing and deal with anything that might be in the way.  Let’s you and I do that tomorrow.”  There is no need to tell him you’re going to coach him. If he’s skilled and experienced there’s a good chance he will wonder what it is you know about the job that he doesn’t know, and you’re off to a poor start.

My own hypothesis about what’s wrong with the salesperson is that perhaps this is a temporary burnout situation, which may resolve itself once attention is drawn to it, or the salesperson may need some change to take place.

In my check-in meeting with the salesperson I would try to explore his interest in doing something else.  Without asking such a question directly I would want to know if he is looking for a different position or role within the company, how happy he is with the job right now, and do the conditions of the job meet his needs for motivation. He might jump at the chance to keep his sales position while taking on the role of mentor for some of the younger, less experienced members of the team, for example.

One reader of this blog wrote to suggest the manager ask the salesperson’s input on possible changes to the incentive plan.  A good question might be, “I’m giving thought to making some changes in our incentive comp plan for the sales team. What do you think they would want? Based on your experience, what ideas would work for you?”

And finally, never discount the possibility that the salesperson is going through a difficult personal problem, perhaps marital or health-related.  It takes a skilled facilitator to uncover an issue like this, and it must be attended to with compassion and loyalty to the team member.

So be careful about telling people you’re going to coach them.  Instead, put on your kid gloves and ask helpful questions.

Think Like Your Customer

Fable Friday: How would you coach this poor performer?

A sales manager shared this problem in a seminar a couple of weeks ago.  “Phil is in his 50’s, been with us for well over 20 years and is one of my top salespeople.  He’s highly knowledgeable with all that experience and customers value his advice.  Up until this year he’s always blown through his goals.  Now this year he’s struggling. He’s a bit behind goal, but what’s worse, it’s hard to talk to him.”

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedThe manager had tried to have a coaching session with Phil, but it didn’t go so well. “I told him I wanted to talk with him about this year’s performance, that he was behind goal and that I hoped I could coach him through it and see what we could do to get him on track.  But he didn’t take that well. He more or less told me that he didn’t need any coaching from me, that he knew his job better than anyone on the team and that he was just waiting on some deals to come together and he’d be okay.

To be fair, he’s only slightly behind goal, but his previous performance had been so good that just meeting goal is far less than I expect of him. I’m thinking I’m not handling this well or not seeing the solution. What do you think?”

Well, I’m going to ask you what you think, then I’m going to share my ideas next Friday.

But first let me comment on interventions for improving performance. In my background in instructional design, I learned early that there are three domains of the brain that drive performance.  One of these is knowledge: what does the performer know about how to do the job?  In this case we know the salesperson is highly competent. Customers value his advice.  The second domain is skill.  Have we seen evidence the salesperson can do the job?  Again we know the salesman is skilled.  He was once the rainmaker on this team and has plenty of experience.

The third and remaining domain is attitudinal, how the salesperson feels about the job. Something appears to be getting in the way, so if you were the sales manager in this case, your attempt to coach the performer was the right idea.

So let me give you some specific questions to address before we solve this next week.

1)      What is your hypothesis about what is wrong? Have you encountered a situation like this yourself?

2)      How would you have introduced the subject to the salesman?  What would you do that was different from what the sales manager did?

3)      What might be some reasonable solutions for the sales manager?  If you were in this position, what remedial ideas would you come up with? Use your imagination.

How did Dr. Kahneman sign that email?

Thank you to those who wrote me about the Nobel-prize winning economist Dr. Daniel Kahneman and his gracious email to me.  I gave you a multiple choice question last week asking you to guess how he signed it.

I really enjoy people with a great sense of humor who are not so full of themselves that they can’t have some fun.  The eminent Dr. Kahneman simply signed his note “Danny K.”

See you next week, and meanwhile…

Think Like Your Customer

Newsletter follow-up: How would you coach these salespeople?

You gave your sales team a goal of selling $1 million this year but because you’re a great coach, you also asked the most important question, “What do you hope to achieve?” or “What do you want to do?”

That was the premise of my newsletter earlier this week, and I suggested that your team members may well have given you four different possible responses. Here they are:

1)      I’ll be happy if I can just make goal. I don’t want to fail at this.

2)      I know I can make this goal if I work hard and practice, and I will, but there’s a lot I need to learn.

3)      I’m confident I’m going to exceed this goal. I’ve always blown through my goals and I see this only as another challenge.

4)      What incentives are available to me if I surpass this goal. If I do $1.2 million, how much more will I make?

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedI asked you to comment on how you would coach each one differently, and I heard back from one very experienced sales manager, who had such useful insights from his own management experience, that I’m going to just quote what he said, a day off for me!

“The responses you suggested are very similar to what I would hear in one-on-ones at the beginning of every month. Countrywide [his former employer] lived by the motto, ‘if you’re not growing, you’re dying’, and while that constant drive to improve month-over-month burned some people out, it was also why coaching and goal-setting were so important.  I heard a lot of the 2, 3 and 4 answers. I loved working with the #2’s as I often hired people outside of the “box”—blank canvasses with a track record in another field, good attitude, intelligence and coachable because they were new to our business.

I’d sit them right by my side, or I’d spend hours in their cubicles with them on live calls, listening in, or having them listen to me, perfecting open-ended questions, listening skills and setting daily, weekly and monthly performance goals. That salesperson is telling you he wants to learn, and you have to invest your time.  You owe it to these people; they’ll be your superstars.

Your number 3 gives you an opportunity to incorporate some best practices.  If her sales results show a track record of blowing through goals, you can do two things. First is she needs a carrot. You can’t have a $2 million producer rewarded or deemed satisfactory for hitting $1 million, even though that’s the goal.

Do two things with her.  First empower her to facilitate learning among her peers. Certainly there are behaviors which have become habit for her that would be great to make uniform across your team. Identify them and give her an SME role on the team, and if possible try to create additional incentives for achieving a more difficult, advanced goal. I always had layered incentives beyond the standard bonus program to curb complacency and create some hierarchy, added rewards for the upper echelon that would give the newer, less talented or less motivated an additional level of incentive to achieve more.

The last guy has told you, ‘I can do the million but show me why I should do more. What’s in it for me?’ Your job as a coach is to keep this guy focused on levels of goals, and motivation is the number one key.  Right or wrong, I found my top producers reveled in their status of being in the top 3. I let them be big shots, and if handled correctly, they’ll refuse to give up that status while they help you coach the next tier up to their level.

It always comes down to knowing each salesperson, what makes him tick, knowing when to apply a hug, a kick or something else.  Common to all of them is to make them understand that you have a keen interest in their development by establishing a relationship of trust.  A good coach can say truthfully, ‘If you give me 100% of what I invest in you, you’ll get where you want to go.’”

Not only did this sales manager nail the answer and save me the job of writing, I also found it gratifying and a bit of a thrill that the email came from someone I love and respect very much, my own son.  Thanks for today’s input Garrison LaMothe. You’re a great sales manager.  Love, Dad

Think Like Your Customer

Fable Friday: The safe-cracker has a great management training tip for you!

If you patiently followed the story of the bank safe-cracker in my last two posts, I’ll tie it together with a useful management training workshop tip for you today.

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedRemember that my story ended in glorious fame, achieving a reputation as one who could open any safe or vault.  But if you were my manager, it would have been dangerous for you to assume that I was competent. Aren’t we often fooled by the impressions people make?

Next time you train sales managers, pose this question to them: “You are told on Friday night that on Monday morning you have to cut your sales staff by one person. Someone has to go. You have the weekend to think it over. What criteria will you use to determine who you will keep?”

I let them work in small groups to make a list of criteria, and as each group reports back, I scribe the criteria on a flip chart, which looks like this at the end of the exercise:

“Sales Results

Team Player

Liked by customers

Go-getter

Self-starter

Hard worker

Charismatic personality”

And so on.  You get the idea.  Perhaps your list would look the same.

Now I make a new flip chart and I make three column headings on it, as follows:

“Impressions                     Skills                      Results”

And I tell the group, “Each of the criteria you listed falls into one of these three categories.  Help me put each one where it belongs.”  So we do this and you can see that “Sales Results” goes in the “Results” column, and all the others go into the “Impressions” column.  They rarely have any criteria in the “Skills” column, which you now tell them is called “The Missing Middle.”

Now make this point with the group:  “If as a sales manager, you are not in the field making calls and coaching your team, then you have no idea how skilled they are, and no opportunity to help them develop or succeed even more.  If all you look at is results and your impressions of your team, then you are not doing a thorough job as a sales manager, and in response to the hypothetical question I asked you, you might make a dreadful mistake.”

This exercise works every single time, and helps you get the group into a rich discussion of the best practice behaviors for a sales manager, which includes skill development at sales meetings, direct observation of sales performance, and specific, one-on-one coaching, which are currently the weak spots in many sales organizations.

Now when you introduce the modules for these activities, you’ll have the group’s buy-in, and your training will be well-received. Help your participants develop skilled salespeople, rather than a bunch of safe-crackers.

Think Like Your Customer

The number one rule for an effective sales meeting

With so much pressure on sales managers to conduct frequent and regular sales meetings, there’s a risk that your team will have to attend frequent and regular meetings that are highly ineffective, unless you design them well.

So let’s agree that you conduct a sales meeting for one critical objective:  to improve sales performance. And to improve sales performance, you are looking for a change in your sales team’s behavior. It’s that simple.

Now let’s look at behavior change. For those of you who are trainers, you know the three premises of behavior you use in instructional design, so you always ask these three questions:

  1. What do I want the learner to know, that he doesn’t already know?
  2. What do I want the learner to do, that he isn’t already doing, or not doing effectively?
  3. In what way do I want the learner to feel differently about what he does on the job?

That’s all there is to it.  So it follows that if you are designing a sales meeting you can simply make three columns, then create activities from there.

But here’s the finer point. For your team right now, which of the three performance areas is most important?  Let me make a guess.  It’s either two or three isn’t it? In other words, you have a team that either needs to polish or enhance its skills, or you need the team to be self-motivated to put more positive energy into the job.  There’s seldom content that an experienced sales team needs to know, but here are two examples:

  1.  You select a top performer from the current month. He’s having a heck of a good time bringing in new business and leading the team in sales. As a reward, you call on him to talk about some of his best practices, how he prospects, great questions he asks in uncovering needs and so on.  The other team members glean a lot of new information from him.  That’s a good knowledge piece.
  2. There’s some logistical or time management problem within the team, or some obstacle to be worked out, so you call a meeting to resolve it, giving everyone a chance to speak: What do we need to do? What gets in the way? What should we do about it? And you reach a conclusion and agree on best steps. A good outcome from this meeting will have everyone knowing what to do that they didn’t know before.

So as a meeting designer, when you are looking at the first of the three performance areas, what you want people to know, ask yourself this question: If there is information I need my team to know, is it logical that I could tell them in an email? Or do I need to say it in a meeting?

You can see that in my two example meetings, the outcome is increased knowledge, but there is also a motivational component too. In the first, team members are encouraged by hearing a peer describe success, and the speaker is rewarded for top performance, which is itself a motivator. In the second example, team members feel empowered to solve a problem. In both cases, there’s good reason for having a meeting.

But for all other areas where you need only to provide information, save yourself and your team time by sending it out in an email, and use meetings for skill enhancement, or motivation.

That’s a powerful rule to remember, as it will help you…

Think Like Your Customer

Call quotas: The wrong kind of micro-management

As a sales manager in this down economy, you are no doubt scrutinizing your sales team’s productivity.  Problem for you is that your boss is doing the same thing, so the pressure is on right now to put your foot on the gas in some new way.

One sales management approach that comes from productivity frustration is the call quota. The sales manager complains that sales are down and says, “Beginning this month the call quota for all of you will be X calls per month (or week).”

If you’re thinking of doing this, please think again.  In general I like the sales manager to be a micro-manager, but as I’ve written here before, I like it in the positive sense that the manager pays close attention to the activities of each of his sales team, and coaches appropriately and positively.  Creating a call quota is micro-management in its worst manifestation. Let’s look at why.

First, as an experiment, try asking your team how they feel about quotas and get their feedback. They don’t like it.  They’ll tell you it forces the salesperson to make poor calls just to fulfill the quota.

Next ask them to determine what the quota should be. I’ve done this and it’s like herding cats.  I ask the sales team, “Approximately how many calls do you think a calling officer should make in a given week?”  The answer is always the same:  “It varies.  You can never tell.  Maybe there are other pressing matters.  You might have a couple of important proposals that week,” and so on.

Now move the time frame up to a month, and you still get the same wiggling and squirming. No one wants to be told how many calls he needs to make in order to be successful.

A much better and simpler way to be a great micro-manager in the most positive sense is to meet individually with each team member.  Here are the steps:

1)      Discuss the team member’s progress to goal.  “Where are you now?  Where do you feel you are making progress?  Where are you behind?  What do you think you need to focus on? In what way do you need help from me?”

2)      If the team member is behind in goal, discuss the various remedial action steps. For example, the low number of calls he is making could be because he has difficulty on the phone asking for appointments.

3)      Once the performance obstacle is identified, ask for his plan to fix it.  “Practice more, record yourself, go to training, get some coaching from a successful colleague,” or other known remedies.

4)      Gain commitment from the team member on what he will do to get back on track.  Don’t tell him what to do. Ask him what he will do, and make sure it’s specific.

5)      Agree on your role, follow-up, measurement approaches and next steps, so there is clarity about performance and consequences.

The point here is that you have to treat each of your players differently, just like a sports coach does.  You may end up with quotas, but it’s not likely they’ll be the same for everyone. Setting the same quota for every performer without discussion of performance obstacles won’t solve your problems or theirs.  What it will do is make your team resentful that you have abdicated your role as a sales manager.

Think Like Your Customer

Three easy tips to make you a better sales manager

It’s time to do a self-audit on your habits and routines as a sales manager.  You have just one goal in this position and that is to improve your team’s sales performance and revenue. This means that everything you do that does not support that goal should be eliminated from your activities.  Here are three easy ones.

Stop Scolding—Immediately stop scolding your sales team when it falls behind on production goals.  It doesn’t motivate them to improve and it annoys the hell out of those who are ahead of goal.  There’s an opportunity cost to having a sales meeting in that you have taken your team off the line to attend it, so you’d better make the content rich.  Inform them of current results, good or bad. Praise if results are good, but then coach individuals one-on-one if they’re behind goal. If you’re one of those managers who devotes 5 minutes of every meeting telling people to get moving, cut that out.  You’re being lazy by not addressing the issues head-on.

Audit Your Sales Meeting—Get the agenda for your next sales meeting and for each item on it, ask yourself in what way it contributes to your “improve revenue” mission. If some topic doesn’t support sales performance, toss it out. I’ll bet you have at least 30 minutes of content in your present meetings that has nothing to do with helping people sell.  If you want to do an even better audit, turn it over to the team itself.  Simply ask 2-3 people to solicit ideas from the others in response to this question:  “For all sales meetings going forward, what content would you like to see us include that will help you do your job better?  And conversely, what items are in our present agenda that you would like us to skip?” Phrase it in positive, upbeat language:

“My job is to help you win, but so far I’m the only one putting together the sales meeting agendas.  I’m not perfect, and I worry I’m not giving you the best content.  Be honest with me on this. What would you like us to include, and what can we reasonably do without?  All responses are good responses.  Food for thought:  How do you feel about rotating agenda responsibility among the team?  Have at me!”

Be a Micro-manager!—I don’t know why this expression has such a bad connotation. It implies the sales manager is in your face all the time, and not in a productive way.  But you should micro-manage. Oh, you say, “But what about your top performers?  You shouldn’t micro-manage them!”  Sure you should.  Here’s how.  Tell your rain-maker salespeople how much you value their performance and leadership.  Ask them to speak at sales meetings to discuss how they won a deal.  Ask them to teach a skill, modeling it first for the group.  Ask them to coach and help a less productive performer.  Are you spending most of your time coaching the non-performers?  If so, you may be missing a great opportunity to reinforce the desired behaviors from your top people.  They have feelings too.

These three tips make perfect sense don’t they?  And they’re not difficult to do.  Your sales team should be treated as if they are customers.   So Think Like Your Customer.