June 22, 2016

Is your management style
hindering your sales growth?

I'm fortunate to work with a lot of senior sales leaders and hear frequently from them about their top challenges. One major one is creating the balance between sales team motivation and a high level of accountability.

What are you doing to ensure you get the maximum performance in these two areas?

Why Do Soldiers Break Stride On A Bridge?

Typically I'm encouraging sales leaders to put in adequate structure and rigour into their sales process to create a high-performance sales culture. However, there is another facet which if overlooked can spell disaster for even the best team.

In their eagerness to implement the new ideas for improved visibility and control over their team's performance, a sales leader can easily lose balance, forgetting the value of individuality, innovation and creativity!

So why do soldiers break stride on a bridge?

Marching soldiers are cautioned to break stride on a bridge, lest they match the bridge's frequency of vibration.

In April 1831, a brigade of soldiers marched in step across England's Broughton Suspension Bridge. According to accounts of the time, the bridge broke apart beneath the soldiers, throwing dozens of men into the water. After this happened, the British Army reportedly sent new orders: Soldiers crossing a long bridge must "break stride," or not march in unison, to stop such a situation from occurring again.

If they march in lock step fashion, they apply a force closely matched to the bridge's frequency, the soldiers' rhythmic marching will amplify the vibrational frequency of the bridge. If the mechanical resonance is strong enough, the bridge can vibrate until it collapses from the movement.

A potent reminder of this was seen in June 2000, when London's Millennium Bridge opened to great fanfare. As crowds packed the bridge, their footfalls made the bridge vibrate slightly. "Many pedestrians fell spontaneously into step with the bridge's vibrations, inadvertently amplifying them," according to a 2005 report in Nature. Though engineers insist the Millennium Bridge was never in danger of collapse, the bridge was closed for about a year while construction crews installed energy-dissipating dampers to minimize the vibration caused by pedestrians.

So here's the point.

Are you forcing your people to march in a Lock step fashion?

With too many conformist procedures that have to be mindlessly adhered to or that minimizes individuality?

Give your team a chance to break stride.

Enthusiasm and motivation are beautiful but fragile things. Like fine bone china they need to be cared for and respected.

One cutting remark or sarcastic comment over performance and that positive atmosphere can disappear like morning mist on a hot summer's day.

So remember for all the focus on structure and process...

"Sales is as much an art as it is a science."

One of your team's greatest assets is their ability to be agile, adaptive and aware of serendipity.  An overly prescriptive or conformist sales process can leave a sales team feeling demotivated, bored and over scrutinised.

Resulting in a lack of energy and excitement or worse… staff attrition.

By nature most sales people are independent and welcome the opportunity to use their initiative. Their adaptability to situations and opportunities as they present themselves is an important skill in sales.

As a sales manager you must realises this fact and encourage the use of initiative.

Another area you can capitalise on is the creativity and innovation within your team is in generating new sales and marketing ideas.

A couple of weeks ago I met up informally for coffee with several sales guys I had trained two or three years ago. Their biggest complaint was that their management team didn't ask for any input or listen to any of their ideas to generate sales or improve the effectiveness of their marketing.

No wonder they feel as if they're marching in lock step fashion without individuality or independence, pretty demotivating.

So here's what I'd like you to do at your next sales meeting. Ask them for their fresh ideas and encourage the creativity latent in your team!

So don't forget the Art in the science.

Don't Let Your Top Performers Go Stagnant!
I was asked last week by a senior sales manager why I thought several of her company's top performers were off to a slow start this year.


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