Over the past twenty years, there’s been an explosion in tech, systems, applications, platforms, mobile apps etc. and those that claim to help you sell, number more than 1,000 solutions globally.
There’s also no doubt that people are feeling overwhelmed, zoomed out, pre-lockdown it was bad enough – but now, now if we are lucky, we have taken stock of what is important and reassessed our priorities. If we are less lucky, we will have lost loved ones, have suffered sickness and struggled mentally with the impact of it all.
Amidst the ‘great resignation’ and dwindling talent pool, considering our very human needs is a critical factor, especially as a sales leader. So, how do you value your people, when the tech stack is against them, and why does it feel ‘against’?
I say ‘against’ because, sometimes it’s really hard to keep up; there’s a lot of data to be filled in, updated, managed and communicated. There are over 1,000 applications, platforms and systems that are on offer that form the sales tech ecosystem. All of them offer a solution to something but it’s a lot of data to manage, and, it’s out of date quickly in dynamic situations. So how do you handle all of that and counter-balance the energy-drain with something that is, more human, analogue? How do you ‘nourish’ your people?
It’s ironic that the more connected we become with and through tech, the more disconnected we seem to feel. Antidotes to this include unplugging, being more mindful and having healthy boundaries around our work, play and not being online for both, all the time. We must spend time as well as money to be with each other in a way that is authentic, valued and yes, even vulnerable. Why? Because it’s what we all need to feel seen and heard. To feel understood and accepted, at home and also within the work and team environment.
We hear a lot about the need to coach our teams – but who has the time? More importantly, most sales leaders are not coaches – and so, who has the ability? As with most expertise that you need within a business, you can either spend time and money learning it yourself, or bring in an expert. With coaching there are several approaches, and differences;
- Do the basics well. If you say you want your team to have balance at work – show them that you have balance and log-off at a reasonable business hour. If you say you want them to support each other, show that you support them. Don’t say one thing then expect another. Don’t ask them to do back-to-back video calls for hours on end, and don’t do it yourself so that you model a set of healthy boundaries. It’s the walking the walk that earns trust and loyalty. It models a way of working that sets the standard – based on the values of the business that are real, not merely claimed.
- If needed, book some classic sales training courses – but know the difference between training and coaching. If your team lacks knowledge, training is essential. If they lack anything else a combination of training and coaching may be a good start to address the ‘how’. However, be aware that up to 87% of knowledge gained in classic training is lost within a month – so ensure you have good follow-up to embed new behaviours.
- Hire a coach to work with people to address agreed areas of development. There are some great sales coaches who specialise in those ‘problem’ skillsets. For example, cold calling, pipeline management, various sales methodologies and frameworks etc.
- If your team is more experienced and need more to keep them at that ‘top of their game’ fitness, they need the right nutrition, mentally and emotionally – this is where coaching really comes into its own.
We see three main problems in this last area.
- The time it takes to ‘nourish’ the individuals, to know what they need and crucially, be able to provide it.
- The ability to coach the team. Most sales leaders are not trained coaches.
- The ability to prove a return on investment of that time and effort underpinned by data. This has been in the ‘too difficult’ pile for too long. Buying tech is easier.
These three problems are what have driven the team at Aurate and I to create something that addresses these problems. More on that in the next blog.
Another nuance is – we believe that coaching your team isn’t always something you should outsource. What you need is to build a strong team that supports itself in a way that gives ‘permission’ and encourages positive change from within. External coaches will at some point leave when their contract ends. What then? Then, the accountability, reinforcement of new behaviours and motivation to improve ends too. Then, stagnation can easily set in again.
Note: The programme referred to above is called Communication AlchemyTM from Aurate. We would love to share more with you if you want to get in touch for a discovery call.