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Creating a sales environment that motivates

Drew:

Hello and welcome to In Confidence: Face your workplace. A podcast that seeks to reveal the true blockers of confidence at work, on the job, with a boss, or in their career from real callers, so they can face their workplace and achieve their goals. In most instances, the names, people and workplace information shared have likely been altered to protect the identity of those involved. We’re your hosts, I am Drew Fortin.

Alyssa:

Alyssa Dver here and here we go. And another podcast we’re really excited.

Drew:

Let’s do it.

Alyssa:

I have to remind our listeners though, that comments and suggestions that we make on this call are specific to the call and the situation that we’re talking about. Hopefully do apply to yours, but of course may vary. We have on the line Bree, and I understand Bree that you have some confidence concerns around keeping salespeople accountable. Can you give us a little bit more information about it?

Drew:

Hey Bree.

Bree:

Yes, of course. Thanks so much for having me on.

Drew:

Thanks for being on show.

Speaker 3:

My question is about a new sales team, so I am lucky enough to help open a brand new location for our company. And we’ll be looking to staff that location with about a dozen new business development professionals. So my question is related to holding those professionals accountable to strict metrics while still keeping them engaged and motivated. So I’m in the fortunate position of being able to kind of start things off the right way. So my question for you would be if there’s any best practices that you can think of to help hold sales reps accountable, while keeping them motivated and not causing any discouragement or hindering their confidence in any way.

Drew:

Sure. Great. Yeah. So maybe tell us a little bit more about you and your position in all of this. Are you managing this team? Have you managed sales folks before?

Bree:

Yes. So this is a new team that we’re starting out and we’ll be hiring over the next several months, but I have been in positions like this before at other companies. So I have had sales teams like this and tried all different types of ways. But it’s nice to be in a position where we’re getting to start from the ground up and make good practices right from the get go.

Alyssa:

Given that you’ve done this before. And maybe obviously, cause you’re calling in here, I’m questioning, are you, what is, what are you concerned about? You’re worried they’re not going to be motivated? Or what’s really at the heart of the concern here?

Bree:

So the question is, is mostly about keeping people motivated when they’re in a situation where they’re possibly already feeling a little bit down on themselves. So talking about when they’re underperforming and sales are not where they need to be giving them the feedback and instruction that they need to be given while still keeping them happy and motivated so that it doesn’t get worse because they’re feeling discouraged at that point.

Alyssa:

You know, it’s hard. Sales is kind of the extreme here, you know, in business we expect people to do certain things and sales it’s very measurable. And obviously when they don’t perform, we have to tell them you failed. Right. Right. And I mean, by definition I can’t be really motivating.

Drew:

What, what, what, what kind of business is this and is it like a is it retail? Is it a local place? Are these folks going to be, you know smiling and dialing on the phones? Are they going to be knocking on doors? Yeah.

Bree:

So we’re a third party logistics company or a freight brokerage. We act as the middleman between customers who have freight to ship and carriers who have trucks. So it is sort of a smiling, smiling and dialing situation, all inbound sales over the phones business to business.

Drew:

Okay. And it’s, and it’s inbound, you said.

Bree:

I’m sorry. No inside sales. Yeah. And it is all business to business.

Drew:

Okay. And how will they be hunting? Will you be giving them leads and information? Will they have to go and find what to hunt?

Bree:

Both, they will have some leads list available to them. Customers that we’ve worked with in the past who have maybe fallen off or consign these of other shipments we’ve done, but there will definitely be some aspect of cold calling and prospecting on their own.

Drew:

Okay. Got it. The only reason why I was asking that, cause obviously what motivates people is going to be different and it, and an inbound funnel and outbound funnel is different. And this seems like primarily outbound.

Alyssa:

So just kind of helps us frame around some of the confident challenges, if you will, I want to ask you and if you don’t feel comfortable responding, I’m going to give you that that right to say, you don’t want to say anything that you sound young.

Bree:

A young-ish. Yes. I’m 32.

Alyssa:

And the people you’re hiring younger or older?

Bree:

Most likely younger, we, it is considered an entry level position. So we’re seeing a lot of recent college graduates, even this being their first job right out of school. Okay.

Drew:

And what, what kind of training do you, are you prepared to give these folks?

Bree:

We are prepared to give them full training on the entire industry and the full sales process. So we have a lot of in depth sort of classroom type training scheduled, where there’ll be looking at slides and listening to people from all different departments, explain what we’re doing. We do plan to give them full training on our, on our industry as a whole, so that they have a very good understanding of what it is that they’re selling and then further sell training on our sales process and what they should do to prospect and how they should get a clients engaged. So it’s very well rounded with some in-classroom stuff and very hands on aspects. And then of course sort of on the job coaching.

Drew:

Sure. And Bree what are the expectations you you’re, you’re building this team. How quickly do you need to build the team? How quickly do you need to be producing results?

Bree:

A great question. The sooner, the better we are definitely looking to get things rolling as quickly as possible. We’re looking to hire, like I said, more than a dozen sales reps probably in the next two months. And then everybody needs to be producing, you know, on their scheduled metrics as quickly as possible. Haven’t even having even secured their first sale within the first four weeks.

Alyssa:

All right. So I’m going on a limb here, Bri, hang with me. You were so generous before to share, as I disclaimed it before. I’m going to disclaimer again. It’s feeling like you’re is not as confident yourself not necessarily about yourself, but about this whole situation, as you’re asking about how to the future situation. You know, if they don’t perform, then they’re going to not feel motivated. You’ve done this before. You’re calling in with that concern now. What happens if they don’t perform?

Bree:

So ultimately if they can’t perform, if they’re not going to be able to perform and we’re not able to coach them up unfortunately it would mean that we would have to part ways with them. Obviously with it being a sales driven industry, we do have to do what’s best for the business. So if they were ultimately unable to perform, regardless of coaching, we would have to cut ways with somebody. But it’s our intent to make sure that we’ve given them all the tools that they need and make sure that they’ve been given the opportunities. So if they’re not performing, it will definitely begin with coaching them up and seeing what we can do to get them to the level that they need to be.

Alyssa:

Well, so there’s a sweet, I don’t know if it’s irony and real reality, but I’m going to say it’s an irony. We’re sitting here in Predictive Index in whose business it is to make sure that people come on board who are right for the job and the job is right for them. Right. So I think that’s a really big part of this puzzle for you. And I’m going to say it cause I know Drew just wants it out on air that I think that, you know, you say we’re getting them the tools on the opp. So I’m, I’m curious, I’m sure drew is too. What are you doing to ensure you’re getting the right people in the right places?

Bree:

Yeah, so we are a huge advocate of PI. We have adopted it just last year and we’re really trying to immerse ourselves in it. We are using it with all of our candidates. So we put together the job profile through the stakeholders, myself and several other people involved. And every candidate goes through the PI process to ensure that they’re a good fit from that metric, of course, keeping in mind their experience and everything else that goes into a person. But putting a lot of weight into making sure that we’re getting the right profile.

Alyssa:

You’re welcome Drew.

Drew:

Thank you. Thank you.

Alyssa:

That’s good. I mean, but you know, just take a moment for a second. And I know Drew has like a list, the list here that he want to go down and I don’t want to keep him from it. But you know what, here’s the thing I want you to take a minute and realize that that’s a really big deal. Whether using PI or anyone for that matter, you’re putting thoughtfulness and not luck, but actual confidence on your side to get the right people in. And sharing that, not just with us here, but sharing that with them is a really important part of this success factor. You know, they’re picked and put in those seats because they’re the right people. That’s huge.

Bree:

Absolutely. And we try to be very forthcoming with why it is that we’re sending this online assessment to them and what it’s about, what we’re using it for. You know, I don’t want them to think that they’re being tested on their knowledge or anything like that. But explained to them that it’s helping us to understand more about them and understand how they communicate and understand what they like in their job. Right. so we’re, we’re very open with that at the beginning. And it’s something that we are really adding as part of our culture here. That that’s what we use to coach people and motivate people even just communicate amongst each other.

Drew:

Great. so before we get into some advice, I have one more question for you and that is: so if you’ve done this before and every situation’s a little different. So in this situation, if there’s one thing that you’re like, this is probably where we’ll trip and fall, what, where, where is that?

Bree:

Hmm. That is a good question. I think it definitely comes down to finding the people that are right for the position and then, because it is so entry level and they’re really getting into their career for the first time. I think that there is a factor of even if we find the right profile, they might not find that the industry or this particular job is what they want. So we may have a little bit more turnover with them being first into their career than we would with somebody who knows a little bit more about exactly what they want out of their positions. Right.

Alyssa:

That’s a good criteria in your hiring process, don’t you think?

Drew:

Absolutely. Absolutely. So Bree, what are things right now that you’ve tried to do that would, that would help overcome this concern that you have, that folks are gonna come on board? Yes, it’s fun. But then, you know, stuff gets real. And then we’re having to kind of like beat them, upset, sad, the head of the frying pan of their quota and the numbers they have to attain every day and that doesn’t become fun anymore. And then people leave, like, tell me, tell me what, you’ve, what you plan to do. Like what do you think is going to really help you do that right now?

Bree:

I think just making sure that we’re having open communication with everybody as to what the job entails. I try not to sell it to be anything other than what it is. It is a grind and it does require a, that sort of self motivation of keeping going, even when the going gets tough. So I think being very open about that and not presenting it in a way that they’d be surprised after, after it, after the reality hits, like you said. So keeping that open and then also providing them with real time metrics of how they’re doing, where they’re at where they’re at in comparison to their peers even and where they need to be. We’ll make sure that at least when we get to the standpoint of having to give them accountability, that they’re not surprised by it because they’ve seen those things and the, and the communication has been open. So they’re not getting kind of caught out of left field.

Alyssa:

Sure. What about, what can you do yourself as the team leader there? What can you do beyond giving them data and information?

Bree:

I think just one of the biggest things would be to lead by example and make sure that they understand that I’m here to support them and that I’m able to help them with the different types of sales calls that they might be having. And also do it right there alongside them because it’s a brand new department. Everybody is really starting from scratch. So to be able to sort of do things alongside them and show them the way as opposed to just tell them, I think could have a big impact.

Drew:

Okay, great. Bree, can I be honest with you about something I feel?

Bree:

Yes!

Drew:

The word that is in my head is robotic. So I feel like you I feel like your the way that you’re describing this is very much like, okay, people are gonna come in, they’re gonna make calls. They have to make a certain amount of calls. They have to do a certain amount of deals. If it doesn’t work out, those are the expectations. It’s very objective. And the instances where I’ve seen in sales environments, where it really works is: that’s the table stakes. And then as the leader of the team, we need to make sure that we’re setting the right expectations. Right. Cause often where I see a lot of the stuff fail is we have unrealistic expectations. Like when, for instance, when, when you were saying, we want them on the board and the first four weeks, that’s great.

Drew:

It’s super aggressive for any business in sales. Right. And then not enough support or the right support. So you, you know, I would definitely say that you should be recording these calls and then they, you should be listening to these calls and, and I’m the right person. Yes. You want somebody that’s going to be like, yep. I’m going to make another 50 calls. Right. and you know, with one hour left in the dayAnd then from a team perspective, you know, this is less about confidence in people, but is when you’re doing something like, like this is if your plans call for 12 hire 16, right? Because you’re definitely gonna you’re definitely gonna want, want that bench. But back to my comment about the kind of the robotic nature is.. The environment here. It’s young folks. It’s people coming in from college and entry level, they have to feel like they’re learning something.

Drew:

They have to feel the comradery. They have to feel like they can help each other lean on each other, coach each other trust each other. So when you’re training them on the industry and you are training with them. And I love when you’re saying like, you’re going to get in the trenches with them, but make sure that you’re just, you know, you’re saying pick, pick my call apart, right? And if you can actually have this first class, if you will, of 12 people grow together as a cohort, it doesn’t matter how “boring” your industry may be. It’s the environment and, and the the comradery and the friendship that you can actually foster them. You can, you can teach them to be leaders. Right. and you, you have that opportunity here. I don’t, I don’t feel that.

Bree:

That’s a really good feedback. I’m a little embarrassed that I came off that way, because I think that that’s definitely the goal is that we want it to be very collaborative. Sort of everybody like learning and growing together, learning from each other’s mistakes, learning from each other’s successes. And the environment that we’re trying to foster is something very much of like a fun get the work done, but have a great time doing it, sort of a situation and where everybody is starting sort of on, on the ground level. Everybody has a great opportunity to be able to see themselves in a higher position at some point or, or, you know, see themselves grow into that next level. Because, because they’re all starting at square one together. So I think definitely like putting more emphasis on the fact that they’ll be all learning together, which is something I definitely feel like I’m trying to do in our recruiting process. But it’s definitely good advice.

Alyssa:

I’m going to, I’m going to give you a little bit more advice and it’s, I’m taking a privilege of being the old lady here, you know, I’m older than 32. Let’s just say that. You know what, you’re older than the 20 somethings you’re hiring too. And I, I want to invite you to utilize that as a positive, because being in the trench, showing them by example, it’s a nice intention, but you’ve been there done that before and they haven’t. So it can also be intimidating. It can be the attitude of, “Oh, she’s been here, done that before. She’s the boss,” there all kinds of stuff that goes on. So be cognizant, be aware that you can lead by example, but you you’re better suited to lead as a coach. And what I mean by that is they’re not going to absorb and watch you and be like, “Oh, I can do that, Bree did it. I can do it.”

Alyssa:

That’s not the way human behavior works. So modeling, helping them understand what they’re doing, what could be better, how to make it efficient, what works for you, figuring out what works for them. Taking a perspective of my job is to help you find your mojo. Take or leave some of the stuff that I do. Let me learn from you. Great, but maybe expand your horizon and I’m going to be in the trench. And they’re just going to watch absorb and vicariously learn how to do that. I don’t think that’s really what you meant, but as Drew likes to say, perception is everything. You know some of the words, some of the motions, I think you’re going to have more influence than you realize being the hiring manager and being the one who’s been there, done that before. So take that super power. And I would say, you know, just use it smartly.

Bree:

Alright, awesome. Yeah. That’s definitely very good advice.

Drew:

Yep. something that that came to mind as Alyssa was saying that, that even on the sales team here, here at PI one of our great managers did, as you know, we had somebody that was meeting all of their they were doing outbound sales and meeting all of their call volumes and numbers, but they just, and they were just hundreds of calls in a few day period, hitting everything, surpassing everything, but not closing, not generating any opportunities that would lead leads, lead to deals. And we were wondering what, what this was, and it was fixed in two ways. One, one was recording the calls and understanding. But the other was like, “Hey, when you get in every morning, do a roleplay.” Right. And, and when you leave everyday, do a roleplay. Cause we found out that they were never actually having enough at bats to get through a whole conversation.

Drew:

So they actually, when they got to a spot, they’re like, Oh my God, this is the first class I had where I got to this spot. They didn’t know what to do. Right. Even though they’re trained on it, right. I’m like, Oh, I finally got here. Right. So that’s one. And then, and then the other one, you mentioned, keeping it fun is, you know, giving them, empowering them and saying who on the, who on the team do you want to beat? Right. And creating a fun environment where you can create, yeah, you can create leaderboards and all this stuff. But if they have somebody that they’re usually neck and neck with, you know, have, have a little fun vendetta and like, yeah, I’m going to beat you this week and I’m going to stay on top of you and I’m gonna stay on top of you. And that creates that fun, the good competitive environment while they’re still looking to probably help each other because they both want to up each others’ game.

Alyssa:

Oh man, she just reinforced the fact that I am not cut out to be sales. Cause to me, that does not sound fun at all. I’m very competitive, but not like that. But you know, we kind of dropped, we’re dropping some of these like, you know, massive ideas on you. I wonder, you know, as you’re thinking a little bit further now I talking this through this always helps. Right. Just kind of sometimes helps to get out of your own head on some of these things. What do you think you could do day one just as a you know, onboarding these folks, like what could be different and special and good and set the tone right out of the gate? Like what do you think would be appropriate and good?

Bree:

I actually- I wrote this down and then circled it is, is really what Drew just said in regards to the role plays. That’s a good idea. I’ve never heard before of, of doing a roleplay first thing in the morning and then last thing before they leave. But I think it’s something that could really have a strong effect on kind of setting them up right for the day. And then also closing the day out in a way that they leave feeling good, as opposed to maybe that last call was a hangup or something. So possibly taking that a step further and having that maybe be partnerships between employees where they have a partner and they do a role play every morning together and then every evening together That sort of accomplishes the, the goal that Drew was mentioning. But at the same time, it also accomplishes giving more of that camaraderie and getting people working together and motivating each other so that it’s not all up to the employee by themselves. So I think that’s definitely something that I’ll try to implement right from the get go.

Alyssa:

You know what I mean? So when I said onboarding I’m literally meaning, they show up for work the first day. Right? Now they’re all, some of them may show up all, you know, in a pack or whatever, but there’s going to be people come in a day later or a week later or whatever, right? Based on your hiring process. So take that thought now. And think about what the culture and the motivation that you want to create. How are you going to get them into that mojo into that kind of buddy system? And I love the idea. I mean, I don’t know if I would call it a buddy system in the real world, but to me it’s a buddy system. Cause you’re giving a best friend that day they walk in. How are you going to do that role? Roleplay that with us right now.

Bree:

Yeah, so we have actually talked a lot about our orientation program and how to sort of acclimate everybody in. And I think starting people in classes like we’re talking about definitely is the first step to that. So we won’t be hiring, you know, one person today and another person the next day. So it will be starting in groups together. So they immediately feel that sort of team within the team of like, this was my hiring class and I sat next to him through training. We’ve also done things like we have name tags that they wear each day of their first week that say things like if I had a superpower, it would be something like that just to kind of do some icebreaking type things amongst the team and the managers to really just start off in a way that it’s making them feel like human and like part of the team and like somebody special outside of just the next sales person joining the team. So really trying to foster that fun family environment and not just a straight to business on the training I think will be a huge with just how they feel at the end of their first day.

Alyssa:

Okay, great. So I’m going to add, I’m going to push you really hard. Ready? Okay. All right. So I get hired into your company. I got my buddies, I am my, my personal buddy, my sitting, you know, my, the person I’m going to compete with. I got all this stuff, aligned and everything’s good. And I don’t hit my numbers. What happens? What are you going to do first time? Not the third or fourth time, but the first time I don’t have my numbers. How does all of that stuff then get manifested into what you’re going to do? Like, what’s your course of action at that point?

Bree:

So I am prepared to have regular meetings with each employee individually, as well as team meetings on a regular basis throughout their, throughout their first week, even starting once they get on the phone and then going forward. But I think just having that meeting already set up and then everybody has a meeting like that. So that in this kind of team environment, I’m not causing any discouragement on somebody who I do need to address on their first, at other first time, not hitting their numbers. And just having an open conversation with them that they’re not where they need to be and asking them what they feel like they need to do to correct what they need to be. Obviously providing my advice offering additional coaching for them side by side, if that would help, but just really confronting it right from the first time as opposed to waiting until it gets any worse. I think we’ll have a big impact.

Drew:

I think that’s fair.

Alyssa:

I think that’s fair too, you know, I, as we wrapping up the call, cause you already kind of gave us your, she beat us to the fudge. I love that. Right. She already picked her favorite tip for the day. You know, salespeople as you put it like competitive and kind of like, like that, but it also sets up some really unique challenges in terms of managing motivation, especially when people fail. So it sounds like you’ve got your head in the game, you’ve got a good game plan. How are you feeling? You feel like you’re ready to take it on?

Bree:

Yes, I feel great. I’m very ready. We’ve had a lot of time and preparation and getting ourselves to a point where we feel like everything is ready to go. I’ve been in situations where we’re kind of a little bit more making it up as we go along and figuring it out together. And this time I feel like we’re in a really good position where all of the building blocks are in place and now we just gotta push forward and do it. So we are fully in gear hiring at this point. And I’m ready to go. As soon as we’ve got all the people.

Alyssa:

We love you, Bree!

Drew:

Awesome, Bree. It sounds, it really sounds like you got this and I hope, hope some of this was helpful. It sounds like you got what it sounds like you get your major takeaway.

Bree:

Yeah, this is, yeah. This has been a huge help. I think a lot of these things are things that I hadn’t thought of or things that just really build upon the things that we have thought of. So I’m really excited and I think there’s a lot of things here that I can implement.

Drew:

Awesome Bree. Thanks. Thanks so much for calling in today and best of luck opening in location.

Bree:

Thank you so much for your time.

Alyssa:

Same with you. Thanks.

Drew:

Bye!

Drew:

Yeah. Well, it’s not an uncommon issue, right? Anytime we have a sales team, you’re going to have very similar stuff.

Drew:

Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I think if Bree still listening to this she’s seems seasoned at the same time. Right? That’s why I brought up the robotic thing there. There’s probably more behind that.

Alyssa:

Yeah, no, I mean, this is a topic, obviously most of the topics we could talk forever, but this was a juicy one and so she’s on it.

Drew:

She’s on it. Thanks Bree.

Connor (Producer):

Thanks for listening. Consider applying to be a caller, to get answers to your questions and to help other listeners in the process. You can find out how to apply in the show notes of this episode. Also, if you found this content useful, consider telling just one friend who you think would like it, we’d really love your help, spreading the word. Thanks so much.

Maverick

Drew is the SVP of sales and marketing at PI.

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