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  • Can This Sales Manager Be Saved?

    Guest Post By: Kitty Barrow

     

    Last year, I was coaching a business owner who was constantly complaining about her sales manager. When asked, the owner explained that they initially let the new sales manager do as he wished because they didn’t want to hinder his ability to lead. Upon further questioning, the owner said that the manager was never given any expectations or a list of what success looks like for their job. It was really no wonder that the sales manager wasn’t doing everything the owner expected. It was never explained to him what she expected.

    Not every problem is ever solved too easily and this was no exception. At this point, the manager had been working at doing whatever he pleased for more than 6 months, and as the owner tried to work with him on what was expected of him, instead of agreement, they were butting heads. The owner was complaining to me about everything the manager was doing wrong, the things the manager seemed to be intentionally not doing, and how the manager kept messing up despite being told how to do things over and over.

    It was almost Christmas when the owner decided that she needed to fire the manager, but didn’t want to do it over the holidays, so decided she would do it the beginning of January. Yikes! The manager’s job was on the line if things didn’t change fast.

    At this point, we started working on Navigate, the book by my business partners Dustin Hillis and Steve Reiner. This involved figuring out the sales manager’s personality type so that the owner could lead him how he would like to be lead. In the discussion, we discovered that the sales manager was a Counselor personality type while the business owner was a Fighter. These are two completely different personality types. While Fighters do have very good traits, under stress, the Fighter tends to make demands and only focus on what people are doing wrong. The exact opposite is the Counselor, who under stress tends to clam up and become almost passive aggressive.

    It was a hard pill to swallow but our business owner decided to sit down with the manager and see the world through a Counselor’s eyes. Counselors tend to be all about making sure that everyone is happy. They have an opinion but they aren’t going to share it when they feel under attack. Counselor personality types can be some of the best team players as long as they feel that they are truly an integral part of the team.

    It was an “aha” moment for our business owner as she realized that when she was selling, she always “navigated” people’s personality styles, but when it came to running her company, she never felt that she needed to “work that hard.” In reality, once you make leading the way others like to lead a habit, it becomes second nature to you.

    Good news! Almost immediately the relationship between the business owner and her sales manager did a complete 180-degree turn. They started having Personal Conferences (one-on-one meetings) every week, and they were able to communicate well because the owner started leading the Counselor the way he wanted to be lead.

    In the last 7 months, the owner has expanded her business into other cities, and she says she couldn’t have done this without her sales manager doing a fabulous job and running the company at home.

    The moral of this story is that all leaders should keep in mind that ultimately you are responsible for the actions or inactions of those you lead. The next time you want to complain about anyone on your team, first look in the mirror to see where you can change to be a better leader for your people. The speed of the leader is truly the speed of the team.

     

    Kitty Barrow is a Senior Partner and Executive Sales and Leadership Coach of Southwestern Consulting. She specializes in creating successful systems that are easily duplicated. Her motto is “Keep Things Simple for Stress-less Selling.” Kitty has trained thousands of sales professionals in companies such as Wells Fargo, MassMutual, New York Life, Xerox Global and Allstate