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About This Episode
What do you tell a sales leader who just wants the team to do what they say?
“I say 1) You’re not a leader. And 2) Get ready for attrition.”
With over 20 years of sales and sales enablement experience, Roderick has gained a lot of practical insight on the tools and strategies sales leaders use to foster growth in their teams.
Roderick believes that one of the most powerful things a sales leader can do is learn to listen to their subordinates and demonstrate that they value the needs of their team over the things that they want to say.
On this episode of The Sales Engagement Podcast, Roderick explains a 3-part conversation framework that will help any person in a leadership position to become not just a sales manager, but a leader growing leaders.
A 3-Question Approach to Every Conversation
This 3-part approach applies to any conversation or meeting, whether it’s with an internal subordinate or a prospect, and it’s simply the following:
Lead with these three questions:
Do you want me to listen?
Do you want me to coach?
Or do you want me to fix?
When someone just wants to be listened to, it means they have things in their head they just need to get out. They need a sounding board, preferably one who has experience.
If someone wants to be coached, it’s usually because they’ve tried several things and they feel like they need help hitting the mark.
When someone wants you to fix, that’s when they feel like they’ve done everything they knew and they just want to be told what to do.
The issue with most leaders, regardless of what line of business they’re in, is that they’re natural fixers.
It’s what made them leaders. But it’s not a good place to start. By beginning with these questions the benefits are:
- You give the other person the lead on the conversation.
- You ensure they get to have the conversation that they wanted.
- You are able to put the right set of ears to key in on exactly what they need.
Another reason this is so important for sales leaders: you are modeling for your sellers what you want them to do with prospects.
You want salespeople who go in with two ears and one mouth, who can listen and discover to qualify in or out.
Management vs. Leadership
Roderick says he developed this approach from the ways he failed as a leader early on. Once while doing quarterly reviews the feedback from his team was:
“You never give us the opportunity to grow and spread our wings.”
He found out he was “bubble-wrapping” his team. He was not giving them an opportunity to grow and build on their personal abilities to strategize. And worst, he was not discovering their capabilities and strengths because he was too focused on making them do exactly what he wanted.
Many people in sales leadership roles, feel that they can’t risk their team making mistakes and consequently just want to tell them what to do and have me do it.
To those people Roderick would say two things:
- In all honesty, you’re a manager, not a leader. Managers tell and leaders model.
- Be prepared for attrition.
To salespeople who are dealing with a manager like the one Roderick used to be, his advice is these two pieces:
The approach is most important
Rather than coming off adversarial, validate the leader’s opinions and process while offering suggestions that infuse your innovative ideas.
It’s about innovation
Growth and innovation have never come from doing things the same way.
Why Listening Usually Beats Coaching and Fixing
Everyone has a need to get out what’s in their head and see if it’s just something that sounds good inside the walls of their mind.
No one goes to you because they want to get preached at. They want a conversation, not a presentation. When you listen you show that the other person’s opinion matters as much as yours.
When helping a subordinate with a prospect, listening first works in your favor when you can afterward say:
Leader: “Now that we talked this through, I’ve heard you say XYZ. Have you tried ABC?”
Salesperson: “No, not yet.”
Leader: “Ok great, give it a shot and let’s see where that leads.”
If it works out, there’s an opportunity for a true leader moment where you can have the subordinate share with the team what they did as a best practice and as their idea, rather than yours.
The Takeaway for Sales Leaders
Many sales managers may be thinking they’re doing great because their people are coming to them with problems and they are fixing them.
But then their salespeople experience burnout, there’s attrition, and the sales manager’s wondering what they’re doing wrong.
What Roderick wants sales leaders to ask is:
- How are your people perceiving you?
- Do they feel cared about and that you value their opinions?
- Or are they just someone you are guiding through a process to reach an end state that you know is going to work?
This can be done as simply as asking if the other person wants you to listen, coach, or fix.
This post is based on a podcast interview with Roderick Jefferson, CEO of Roderick Jefferson & Associates. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast.
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