Because I said so…
The gate to my apartment complex is broken. My landlord has decided to attach a large rope to the gate and insists that when anyone opens or closes the gate that they put the rope around the end of the gate to keep it closed – I will never do this.
There is no reason that I can comprehend as to why I need to affix the gate closed by this rope. The gate is obviously broken evidenced by this bulky rope so it would not dissuade a potential burglar any more than leaving it open, and the bottom of the gate does not go to the ground so a mouse or rat could still fit underneath even if it was closed all the way. The only reason I have been given as to why the gate must always be closed is because my landlord wants it that way. Since I neither understand nor agree with this edict, I will not be following it. In fact my rebellion at not closing the gate each day makes me feel more encouraged and righteous in my conviction not to follow this rule.
This got me thinking about how I motivate my sales reps. They will never do anything they are told just because I say it’s important. I must make sure that they both understand and agree that it’s important or it will never be followed.
Sometimes if I see my landlord in the courtyard I’ll close the gate to avoid a confrontation. Do my reps only make cold calls when I’m in the office? Do they agree to next steps in our 1:1 and then not follow them with the client? Do they tell me what I want to hear to avoid confrontation, but not actually incorporate the lesson into their routine because they fundamentally either don’t understand it or don’t agree with it?
I already know that I would do the same thing. I’m not going to close that gate because I think it’s stupid and I can’t imagine how that extra 20 seconds a day would benefit me in any way. Do my reps feel the same way about things I ask them to do?
I try to make a concerted effort to always explain why I ask my reps to do something but don’t always confirm that they understand and more importantly agree that there is merit. I will never ask them to do something I have not done myself in the same role, but maybe that isn’t enough. My way worked for me but maybe it’s not the right way for everyone. Even with some coaching from experience, there needs to be room for personal flare. If my reps can convince me why what they want to do is better in the scenario than my suggestion so that I understand and agree, there’s no reason to halt innovation!
Both the rep and the manager need to be on the same page and when managing sales people there is usually a lot more selling that you do internally than you do with clients!