Are You Too Close To Your Team?
Updated: Jan 19
The five triggers of micro-management to avoid as a manager.
Most sales managers want a balance between too much attention and insufficient direction. You can set expectations and promote sales strategies, yet the follow-through towards goals can vary widely. How do you get more traction from your team and focus on selling specific assets?
Sales Consultant Jason Jennings once said at a management conference, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Everyone in the room nodded in agreement; there must be measurement and performance benchmarks. Jason’s statement was not a blank check; not all metrics are created equal, and their impact cuts both ways.
Performance metrics are an easy “go-to” yardstick to determine your worth as a manager and steer your team. Do you see more sales this month vs. last month? Are you using the right strategies to get clients? Who is first and last in sales performance on the team?
How do you find balance for the best performance to reach goals and keep your team focused?
The 5 Triggers of Micro-Management to Avoid
1. Your motivation to serve company initiatives A manager is always in the middle of top-down company directives and the ground-level realities of sales operations. Relying on the company mandate to back up expectations will make sellers detach from goals and reduce your opportunity to put your fingerprints on solutions. Whatever you measure should be connected to practical, real-world experiences your sales team faces daily. Lead with your view locally and the benefit for the team on why this measurement is essential to everyone’s success.
2. A lack of trust in your sales staff Measuring sales metrics because you are concerned about a commitment from your team to comply will undermine results. Before you bring a new sales metric to the team’s attention, have a meeting to discuss what areas need improvement. Brainstorm together on how to address the shortfalls in performance and what progress means. Capturing data points with the team’s involvement in the process and the agreement on expected outcomes will boost the quality of information gathered and compliance toward the goals.
3. Aggressive measurement as a substitute for poor training More measurement and data collection of a sales team’s performance is not a substitute for targeted training. Before you launch a new metric designed to bring attention to an underutilized asset or hole in your sales process, think about the training that may be required.
Counting the number of first-time appointments makes no difference if sellers suffer cancellations. Do not create an echo chamber for statistics that reinforce what you already know; you need more new business. If you are counting appointments, then count canceled meetings too. Recognize that more training may be required to firm up appointments with a stronger value proposition to make the appointment stick.
4. Too much data in your spreadsheets Measuring metrics in sales has inherent limitations. Think about the circumstances around what you want to measure. If there is built-in volatility in your data collection, then your measurements will be much less meaningful.
In Managing for the Future, Peter Drucker said, “Information is data endowed with relevance and purpose. A company must decide what information is needed to operate”.
For example, what percentage of close probability will you use if you are measuring pending business to fill your order funnel? You can decide that any pending under 25% in your CRM program will not be counted in your forecasts. As a sales manager, you should measure the things that “count” for the right reasons and outcomes.
5. Poor communication on measurement needs and the benefits for the team Take a hard look at all that you measure and why. What measurements are surviving more from habit than benefit? Like too many meetings (we all agree there can be fewer), you can measure too much. Once you filter down to the measurement essentials, look for anything missing that would be new and helpful.
Collect your team to discuss discarded measurements and anything you add to the sales process. If possible, connect the new measurement to a benefit from the salesperson’s point of view and how they can plan more sales. Add an incentive for new metrics to encourage adoption, with recognition when different team members achieve results tied to the new metric.
In closing, we all want to know where we stand toward our goals. Measurements are not inherently bad or good.
Most top sales performers on your team see themselves as independent contractors. They think too much measurement from managers stifles their motivation, shifts their focus to the wrong areas, and causes undue pressure if they fall short of your expectations. Sellers want your support when needed, combined with the freedom to be successful on their terms.
Your focus as a manager is to avoid being the helicopter pilot hovering overhead and known for micro-management. Think of yourself as an air traffic controller facilitating, monitoring, and bringing your team in for a successful landing. You will be appreciated for coaching more than counting and seeing better sales team performance if you measure what matters.
Thank you for reading this article, and please pass it along to your colleagues.
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About The Author:
Alec Drake openly shares revenue management strategies and sales improvement ideas in the "Sales Success Library" at Alecdrake.com. He is a regular contributor to Radio Ink Magazine, where he leverages four decades of experience to write about sales and management. Alec is the founder of The Radio Invigoration Project (T.R.I.P.), a support initiative for local radio sales and promotion staff.
Drake Media Group, LLC retains exclusive rights to any original content in articles written by Alec Drake or published on any third-party platforms and featured in any podcast.