By Amy O’Connor
“A self managing sales team? Come on. You gotta be kidding me. Do those really exist? Is it possible for my team to become self managing?”
Yes and yes!
Think about it. What would be the benefits of creating a self-managing sales team (SMST, for short)?
- SMSTs perform better because they take more personal ownership in the business.
- SMSTs create better buying experiences for your customers when you give them the authority to make decisions as things come up and do what’s right for the customer.
- SMSTs help determine who your leaders are – the best rise to the top!
- SMSTs make your job as a sales leader way, way easier.
So how do you do it?
1. Adopt a self-managing team vision.
First, check your beliefs. Do you believe this is achievable? Do you believe that you can trust sales people with decision-making authority?
How clear is your vision of the sales team you really want? If it is not clear in your own mind, you will build a team by trial and error.
Second, check your commitment. If you want your sales people to self manage, you have to let them self manage. That means allowing for mistakes.
Action Item: Find a quiet coffee shop and schedule time to design your SMST. Get the vision clear first before you take any other action.
2. Hire Self Managers
Not everyone is well suited for self-management. You want to look for certain characteristics and behaviors:
- Organizational skills
- Emotional Intelligence
- Achievement drive
- Stress resistant
- Problem solving skills
Action Item: When hiring a new sales person, consider giving them an assignment before offering them a position. Maybe have them evaluate your product and provide a one-page summary on how the product or selling process could be improved. Or maybe you have them shop your competition and come back with a one page summary of recommendations on how they would/could outsell them. From this assignment, you want to see speed, intelligence/insight and how much they actually care about earning the position.
3. Provide education and training beyond just the basic selling skills
Don’t just assume your sales people know how to effectively self manage. You will need to train them towards the right behaviors: business skills, entrepreneurial skills, time management skills, decision making skills, confidence building activities, etc.
If you want your sales people to act like small business owners, teach them to think and operate like small business owners.
Creating a self-managing sales team is not only about giving you more time to focus on areas where you can make a bigger operational difference in the company or giving you some of personal life back. It’s also about safeguarding your future.
The workforce is changing. We are in what people call “the participation age”. Top talent isn’t interested in being told what to do and how to do it.
Top talent wants to self manage to some degree, and they actually demand certain levels of authority and autonomy. Create a self-managing environment and be the team everyone wants to join.