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What If We Managed Our People The Way We Sold To Our Customers?
Posted on January 12th 2013
I had this brilliant idea for a post on sales leadership and organizational transformation. When we sell to our customers, we give them insight about how to improve there businesses, we help them identify new opportunities to grow, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations. We have powerful methodologies or approaches like Consultative, Solutions, Customer-Focused, Challenger, Provocative Selling to help us do this.
I thought it would be brilliant to write a post applying much of what we do in selling to leading and developing our people.
I sat down at the computer, wrote the title and it struck me — too many managers are doing just that, they are managing their people using the same methods their people are selling to their customers. Unfortunately, it’s all wrong!!
Here’s what I realized. Despite all the posts, books, training programs, and so forth about effective selling, to often sales execution is telling, pitching, convincing, persuading, selective listening, and focusing on our objectives not what we do for the customer.
It struck me that too many managers are leading their people with just those techniques. Too many managers are in “tell mode.” They command their people, telling them what to do, how to do it, and why. Sometimes they soften that approach by using gentler techniques of pitching, persuading and convincing — all thinly disguised versions of tell mode.
Too many listen selectively, hearing what they want to hear. They manipulate the conversations (after all they are used to doing that from selling to customers) to get the sales person to respond the way the manager wants, rather than the way sales people believed. Finally, too many are focused on their objectives as managers and how they achieve those, not what the sales person is trying to achieve.
I realized that too many managers are already doing just what my title for this post suggests, they are applying the same [bad] approaches they use in selling to managing and leading their people. And maybe that’s one of the problems we have with sales performance in general. We’ve long ago proven these approaches are ineffective with customers—customer just don’t buy, they go away. But we are doing the same with our people–they can’t go away–or seldom do. Just as these tired old approaches don’t really help the customer improve and achieve their goals, the same tired old approaches are ineffective with our people.
As I sat, with a blank screen and nothing more than the title, I wondered—unfortunately this is what’s being done! Perhaps this is the root to many of the problems we have with our organizations and in engaging our customers. Perhaps our sales people are just emulating the behaviors and approaches they see from their managers. Perhaps managers are “coaching” by telling them to tell, pitch, persuade, convince, and make your numbers!
I think the premise of applying the same principles of great selling to leadership and management is still valid. Great sales people seek to inspire their customers. They help them see opportunities to grow their business, how they might change what they do to improve the results, and grow. Great sales people help their customers recognize the need to change and help customer manage that change. Great sales people want to create great value for their customers, improving the results produced by the customers. They know if the customers improve their result, the sales people will achieve their goals — because the customer has bought their solution.
Somehow, these principles seem to have great relevance to leadership and effective management. Perhaps applying these principles in coaching our people will help them improve—and, in turn, they might start doing the same things with their customers.