Are your low performers a result of avoiding questions that point to you?

In sales there is no hiding your results. Its on the board, it shows up in your weekly forecast, its talked about in your meetings, its compared with your colleagues and glared at by your superiors.

This is the feeling many account managers have. This ever present looming of being fired over their head. I've experienced this myself with a boss early in my career. 

As a leader there are obvious times where you just know someone isn't the right fit. Perhaps you notice they're just not willing to put in the work, listen to instruction or simply show up.

I've been in the position where I've had to let go of sales people and seen other managers do it also. I was recently asked to support a friend with some exit interviews within a design business he owned. As he shared details of the people, I saw the data and he described how management was done in the business something jumped out at me.

I saw something in the business that I realised many sales managers miss being in the trenches. We carry particular biases, expectations and pressures that can sometimes limit a sales managers ability to see team members and situations with a different and more holistic perspective.

As we talked about the team, performance and their concerns it was clear they had missed the questions that mattered most to understanding what the challenge of recruitment, team and results was. Questions that looked at their role in performance.

With reluctance I asked If I can ask some challenging questions that might give them a different perspective of how to deal more effectively with low performance in their business.

The questions below are great for anyone who leads a team or has to work successfully with other teams to produce results.

  1. How positive do you feel the environment for growth and development of all people in your team is today? scale 1-10? How do you know?
  2. How much do you believe the expectations on you and what your high performers are like effect the way you manage low performers in your team? Knowing this how would this information change the way you manage your team today?
  3. What would you say is the number one reason for low sales performance in your business? What particular processes, approaches or guiding principles do you have to combat this?
  4. What is the number one value you promote in your team each week, why? and what has been the result of this?
  5. In the below categories on a scale of 1-10 how do you believe your team members would rate you on
  • Coaching (how they're developed individually with a personalised approach)
  • Empathy (how much they feel understood)
  • Communication (how clear they are about what they need to do and whats most important)
  • Feedback (how often they hear how they're doing, what they're doing well and how they might improve)
  • Caring (how much they feel appreciated)
  • Leadership (how you model the values and behaviour you want)

For my friend and his team no one had ever asked them these questions and they definitely hadn't ask this of themselves. We took a couple of days thinking through these questions and more. Turned out the root cause wasn't poor recruitment, it wasn't the will or skill of most of those they saw as low performers it was about them. 

I wonder how often we look past questions like these that can fundamentally transform our perspective and activity.  As a result you can turn around a team, significantly reduce the cost of attrition, improve the consistency of results and improve working culture.

What next?

As well as working with key account managers, account managers and consultants I work with managers to ask hard questions that bring answers that matter to transforming their teams and results. Want to know how to best differentiate your relationships, deepening your influence and create predictable long term sales growth with your key customers. Contact me to have a talk about how I can help you HERE

Jermaine Edwards

Key Customer Growth Author, Coach and B2B relationship specialist - New Key Account thinking that transforms customer relationships and creates predictable sales growth.