Sales Leadership, Developing Trust Ultimate Driver for Building Sales Culture
Not cutting edge technology. Not a war chest of capital. Not the best business plan and certainly not the most talented team. Sales leadership and Team work remains the ultimate competitive advantage because it is so powerful yet so rare. Top sales leaders understand the importance of team work yet so few know how to implement it into daily practice. Why? Because teams are made up of imperfect human beings who display dysfunctional behavior that corrupts effective team work.
So how do sales leaders overcome these dysfunctional behaviors and and achieve true team work? Please join me at the TechServe Alliance annual conference in Miami on Friday, November 9th at 10:45 A.M where I will be leading a panel discussion.
Over the past four years I have consulted with just over 200 IT staffing/professional services firms. The common theme among all of them? Trust-or lack there of-among team members.
In the context of building a high performance sales team and sales culture, trust can be defined as confidence among team members that their peers intentions are good and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around the group. In essence, team members must get comfortable being vulnerable with one another.
This definition of trust is different from the standard definition of trust. For example, one might “trust” that a teammate will produce high quality work because they have always done so historically. This trust is not good enough however to build a high performing team. The trust I am referring to is the trust that requires team members to make themselves vulnerable (admit their mistakes, weaknesses, faults, seek out help) to one another and be confident (trust) that their vulnerabilities will not be used against them. When you have this level of trust team members can concentrate fully on the work and task at hand without concern for protecting themselves.
Keep in mind that this level of trust is difficult because team members are often competitive with each other and protective of their reputations. The challenge is for team members to turn their natural instincts off for the overall good of the team. Let me share a specific example of what I’m talking.
John the sales rep has 5 sales voice mail messages into his client to get feedback on a candidate submittal. The client has not returned any of John’s messages. John simply tells his recruiter “I have a message into the client and expect (or hope) to get feedback in the next day or two.”
In this example, John doesn’t want to look foolish or incompetent to his recruiter (and the rest of the team in the morning huddle) so he fails to share with the group that he really has 5 messages into his client, none of which have been returned. In this case John has established a false sense of expectations with his recruiter (and entire team) about the reality of filling this job order. If John continues to do this his reputation will surely erode amongst his team members. They will start to question his ability. But here is the worse part of all. They won't tell him. The team will simply not trust John and the quality of his job orders and his relationships with his clients. Instead of telling John that, the recruiters will operate under a false sense of harmony by "head bobbing" and "yesing" John to death whenever he brings in a new job order. They will tell John they are working on his orders but the reality of course is that the recruiters will not work his job orders because of the distrust. And it just snowballs down hill from here.
As leaders, when and how should we identify these behaviors? What can we do to address these behaviors? How can leaders cultivate a culture of trust and accountability? Lastly, what can leaders do to make team members feel comfortable in making themselves vulnerable with one another? We will explore these topics and more at the 2012 TechServe Alliance annual conference. I hope to see you there!
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.