Timid sellers produce timid results.
That’s on sales bosses.
Warning: I’m going to use a sports analogy.
While I’m generally leery of comparing selling to sports. I make an exception for soccer.
The fluidity and ambiguity for how the game unfolds is a lot like working a sales opportunity.
I also believe that professional soccer is light years ahead of professional selling in how the players are developed, coached and managed. (Don’t get me started about how much more advanced soccer clubs are in their use of data compared to sales organizations…)
Jesse Marsch is the first American to coach a soccer team in the UEFA Champions League, the premier club competition in the world.
He was the head coach of Red Bull Salzburg, the top team in Austria, and Red Bull Leipzig in the German Bundesliga. Now he’s the head coach at Leeds United in the English Premier League.
He’s a master motivator and incredibly thoughtful about how to develop the capabilities of his players.
Read the following quote of his:
“Game day is for the players — I actually think coaches get in the way. There are occasions when unexpected things happen in a match and a coach has to manage that situation effectively. But, I want my players to go out there and feel free. If they’re constantly feeling judged then it’s a block for them to make mistakes and learn from them.”
Let me translate that into sales-speak:
“Selling is for the sellers – I actually think managers get in the way. There are occasions when unexpected things happen in a sales situation and a manager has to manage that situation effectively. But I want my sellers to go out there and feel free. If they’re constantly feeling judged then it’s a block for them to make mistakes and learn from them.”
If your sellers constantly feel that pressure of being judged or measured, then too few will experiment and risk making a mistake.
This is exactly what you don’t want to happen. Timid sellers produce timid results.
Mistakes are an essential learning path for sellers. You have to feel confident enough in yourself as a manager to let those mistakes happen.
It’s possible to build a culture of accountability in sales without every seller feeling that there’s a sword hanging over their head.
The best way to do that is to establish clear expectations for your sellers. Then get out of their way. Give them the freedom, and the responsibility, to make mistakes and learn from them.