Pick Your Battles, but Don’t Surrender
Sometimes in life—and in business—it is hard to know what is REALLY important. Some days it seems like every little issue is the END OF THE WORLD, while other days nothing seems to really get to you.
The truth is, though, being able to distinguish, assess and prioritize such issues as they arise could be vital to your business. The problem is that no one but YOU and your close business allies can really decide what that ranking should be. Since no two businesses are alike, there is no one solution for everyone.
Even so, today I thought I would relate a few personal stories from my years in the trenches as a sales manager, and try to figure out a way to help you decide how to pick YOUR battles.
1. Punctuality. When I was first a sales manager, I would climb the walls any time a salesperson was more than five minutes late. I took it as a personal affront that somehow these people could not make it to work on time. I would write people up and have long conversations about dedication, public transportation and respect.
What I learned over time, though, was to take a bigger picture approach to this issue. If the individual was a high performer, stayed late and worked hard all day, I learned to look the other way at his 20 minute lateness. If, however, the person was a general slacker, never hit quota, missed meetings and left early, too, I knew that the tardiness was symptomatic of a much bigger issue that I did not have the time or the temerity to work on. Inevitably, that person would hear Donald Trump’s line, “You’re Fired!”
2. Errors. I once had a salesperson that missed a digit on an estimate. Meaning that she told the client something was $5,000 when she meant it to be $15,000. Huge mistake, right? She was really freaked out, but we had a reasonable conversation with the prospect, who was very understanding. In this case, she was a very strong salesperson who made a huge mistake. But I put it in perspective and gave her a break, worked on her error and we moved on.
If, however, you are seeing the same kinds of mistakes from a team member with no attempts to correct or learn from them, and you coach and you coach and still see no improvement, well, it may be time to make a change (see the Donald Trump reference in #1).
3. “Personality” conflicts with clients and co-workers. I was once removed from an account at the client’s request. Most people probably have been from time to time. Sometimes, there are just personality clashes. My boss knew me well enough to know that I was not somehow fatally flawed, and that the customer was just being persnickety.
If, however, you receive consistent complaints from more than one source about a particular trait of any given member of your staff, it is time to take a long hard look at what is being said. Can the behavior be changed? If not, again, no one can afford to lose clients because of inappropriate behavior. If a salesperson is “creepy,” maybe he is just a creep. And one less creep on your team is a good thing.
Picking your battles can be tough. But it is vital that you take a look at the big picture, consider all the angles and then make the decision that will best serve your team and your sales. Get help if you need it. But don’t ignore those little feelings that you get. That’s your gut talking. And your gut is often right.
Blogger, author, consultant, coach and all around evangelist for the graphic arts industry, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include sales and marketing coaching, enabling clients to find engagement strategies that work for them and mentoring the next generation of sales superstars.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league. She is also the mother of two sets of twins under the age of ten, so she fears nothing.