A note to all managers. Here’s the deal, I’ve never really “managed” anyone, except for a part-time job in my early 20’s (which was, between us, a VERY long time ago) and being the eldest of 4 younger brothers and somewhat spacey divorced parents. But I do know what it’s like having wonderful managers, and not so wonderful managers.
If you’re reading this, and has ever managed me in the past, I would like to tell you that this isn’t about you. If it’s good, then know it’s totally about you. If it’s not so good, then take it with a grain of salt.
When you’re managing a team (in this case, sales team), there’s some things that you’re going to have to pay attention to. Know who is your ‘A’ team members are, your ‘B” team members are, and who your ‘C’ members are.
When I was in college, a professor asked us a question in our Business course. He asked: “if you could have employees that always did 100% or those that did 80% all the time, which would you choose?” We all eagerly gave our opinion that we would want 100%ers, however, he made a really great point. He said that that’s like having a class full of students that always get A’s (A team). That also means that they’ll get complacent, bored, and will eventually leave. You want the 80%ers (B team). They’re the ones that will do anything in their power, to stay in the class in order to pass. The ones that are constantly getting 70% really are the C teams, aka “skaters” and honestly, you may want to consider moving them to a different position where their “meh” attitudes can be appreciated.
In my humble opinion, you need a mix of both. The majority should comprise of the B team, because they are the ones that will dedicate themselves to the employer (aka, the manager). The A team make you look good in the short run. Your job, as a manager, is to get the B team and turn them into the A teams, because once you do, you’re pretty unstoppable.
Think about this, and using classes as an analogy, you’re taking a student that’s pretty fine with getting B’s and making them want the A’s. In contrast, you’re taking the A students, and letting them see that the B’s are not that far behind, and that they’re going to overtake the A’s. (Interdepartmental friendly rivalry does wonders! see below).
Here’s the deal about sales…..You can’t have the cake and eat it too. You actually need to save some of the cake so that when the fiscal year starts again, or the next quarter starts again (or whenever the sales cycle starts again), as a manager, you can’t start from nothing. You need to have a constant stream of income (or in this case, a revenue stream).
Now, I feel that I need to put a disclaimer on this. The A team tend to need more attention. They need, and in fact expect and demand, more time. They want specialized attention to their bigger deals, deals that wouldn’t come to fruition without management intervention. The B team work within their set parameters unless absolutely necessary. That’s fine. These deals do need specialized pricing and attention. But beware that these team members will take advantage of it.
The second point I want to make to you is that your team members do, and will, get complacent. They can’t work at 100% all the time. They need time to decompress and to get lazy a little. Trust me, once the money starts running a little slower, they’ll be back to 100% again. But do yourself a favor and give them that space. During this time, rely on your B team, because they’re not going to get as burned out, so will streamline that revenue stream for you. They’re consistent.
The third point I want to make to make you a better manager: That same professor asked us “Do you want a completely stress free environment?” We all eagerly said YES! Nope. You don’t. Why? because stress free environments foster the same issues you have with the A team: complacency. You need a little stress in the work environment to bring the best out of everyone.
As a manager, you know where these people are categorized. Your job, mon cherie, is to treat them equally. Just because you’re able to ignore the B team and knowing they’re doing their best (yes, they’re still doing their best), doesn’t mean that you’re going to treat them any differently than those that are the A team that take up all of your time and attention. The more you treat everyone the same, the more that competitive edge comes-a-calling. You want that competition within your own team. You want them to work hard to become better.
Last point I want to make for you managers. The more you’re able to prove to your team that you are able to come in to take over a given deal, the more your team will respect you. This is a shoutout to my last manager, aka Boss Lady, who could name all the top deals that her team had their hands in, and at what stage they were in, without any reminders or prompting. She was a legend at this. Showed every team member that they had to be on top of their top deals, because at any given time, the Boss Lady could, and would, ask you whether so-and-so made a decision, or if their secretary had gotten you that signed contract back, just as you told your her they would 2 weeks ago.
Know your team, and know their worth.
Loves to all!