From today’s mailbag: “My sales team’s morale is suffering, and I’m not sure what to do. I’ve tried catering to them, taking it easier on them, but cannot find the balance between morale and results. Any suggestions?”
Carson: Often, we attempt to cure the perceived poor morale of our sales teams by making knee jerk reactions. We may coddle them, drastically swing from one end of the accountability spectrum to the other or lend too much credence to the complaints. Remember: any time we deviate too far from proven or effective process, it can have disastrous – or non-existent, in this case – results.
1. Isolate the real issues. Meet with your team individually and as a group. It is important to determine the problems so you can – as a team – come up with solutions. You will always make commitments and contracts with your team; as it is your role to serve and protect your team and guide them in their career paths and coach toward their success, it is quite important that you work with them to create solutions to the problems.
2. Create a betterment committee. Assign people that are representative of your team dynamic who are interested in being part of the solution to report and remain at the pulse of the squad. You need the real, unfiltered truth. However, you must temper and filter the results and findings; it is important you coach this committee not to just blindly buy into every complaint but to work to not let negative items simply lie.
3. Address everything. Even if you cannot change it, you must acknowledge an issue and either provide your commitment to attempt to change it or the reason why it cannot or should not be changed and the substantiation. Honestly, your team will not and does not expect you to change absolutely every beef they have. They just want someone who has their back; they want to feel supported. They want to see that you will give them the guidance they want, provide opportunities and remove barriers to their contentment and success.
4. Follow up, and be consistent. Remember, it’s about keeping at the pulse of your team. Meet regularly with your team and with your committees for team improvement. Consistency means not making drastic changes to your approach that you cannot and should not keep up for the long haul. It means instituting permanent, positive change and monitoring the success. It means giving your team the ability to voice concerns and be part of that change. The more everyone is bought in to the change and holding each other accountable to positivity, the more likely real change will occur.
Coddling your team or taking it easy on them can work for a day or so and yes – every once in a while, we should give our teams a break. They likely have stressful times and need to feel free to communicate that and vent. Be understanding, be respectful, praise their successes but be consistent with how you lead and how you work out solutions to any problems that plague you. Morale will have some peaks and valleys, but you can absolutely minimize the disparity on that spectrum if you manage with a steady hand on the wheel.
Carson V. Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership. You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving. You will also be directly contributing to his third book, “A Salesman Forever.”
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Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” that has a unique spin that shows you proven sales principles designed to birth in you the top producer you were born to be.
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