By Will Turner

As a manager, have you ever wished that your team was stronger? Have you ever wished you had a team of superstars who were outperforming their competition at every turn? What about a team that consistently exceeded their sales goals?

Well, if you have…I have good news and bad news. There is only one thing that will yield you the results you seek of having a group of world-class salespeople and that’s YOU.

If your team is not performing like you would like, who is responsible? Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, you need to look in the mirror to find the answer. The person staring back at you will be the person that needs to change.

To have a top-notch or world class sales team, you have to be a top-notch or world class sales leader. It’s that simple. The question is, “Are you willing to take 100% responsibility for the results of your team?”

If you have a salesperson who is not performing up to his ability or to the requirements of the position, who is responsible? That’s right; you are! It’s your responsibility as the sales leader to get their performance up to the appropriate level. Depending on the specifics, you have lots of tools at your disposal. You will have to determine how to close the gap between the existing performance of your team members and the required performance. As the sales leader, that’s your job…to manage the gaps. By failing to do so, your individual teammates will not perform to standards and they certainly won’t exceed them.

There’s also an even more debilitating consequence. By failing to address and correct the performance of any given team member, you risk the impact that has on the rest of your team and the perception and impact you have as a sales leader.

So here’s an example:

John is a seasoned salesperson who has been with you for over 20 years. In fact, he’s your most senior team member. John has found himself very comfortable with the status quo and has relied heavily on repeat business from current customers to reach his goals.

As an organization, you have placed a mandate on new client acquisition and all of your salespeople have a goal to bring in new clients. It’s been awhile since John did any real prospecting. In fact, he is either so rusty from not doing it or unsure of himself that he has failed to step out of his comfort zone.

In addition to John, you manage three other salespeople. Melissa is your star performer and she consistently hits her goals. She has dropped a couple comments recently to let you know that John is resting on his laurels and is failing to make any effort toward his new business acquisition goal. In fact, he is “fudging” his activity log to look like he is taking more action than he actually is; and the other salespeople, including Melissa, are aware of this.

So in this scenario, you have three issues. The first one is a non-performance issue with John. The second is a deliberate falsification of sales activities by John. And the third hinges on how you handle the first two. While handling a performance issue with John should be done confidently and in private, you know that the rest of your staff is watching. In other words, if you sweep John’s issues under the carpet and don’t address them head-on, you are complicit in his lack of action, as well as his cover-up. What message does that send to John? What message does that send to the rest of your team?

Your lack of action will undermine your effectiveness and send a message about your leadership, including your willingness to act with integrity and hold your team accountable. In time, the trust and respect of your team will be diminished and any loyalty will be eroded.

We all know that how you conduct yourself and how you lead makes a difference. And it means that sometimes you have to be the tough boss, because doing nothing doesn’t serve anyone on your team. If you do what is right, even when it’s hard, you won’t regret it. Remember, you have to look your staff in the eyes when you expect the most of them. Then you have to look in the mirror and be happy with who’s staring back.

Category: Editorial