Do you believe in your people? Do you believe in them, perhaps more strongly than they believe in themselves?
If you don’t believe more strongly than they do, you will never be able to maximize their performance or fulfill their potential. At most, you’ll get some improvement, but probably not sustainable improvement.
Our jobs as leaders are to get our people to perform at the highest levels possible, fulfilling both their short and long term potential.
Sometimes, I think it’s this absence of belief that impacts our effectiveness as leaders and coaches. If we are asking our people to change, to step up what they are doing, but if we don’t believe in their ability to do it, then they never will. We’ve created a self fulfilling prophecy, and it’s not our people’s faults, it’s ours. We become the weak link in driving performance improvement.
Coaching and developing our people is a “contact sport.” (Figuratively, that is.)
It requires our full commitment and engagement in seeing our people succeed.
Improving performance, whether it’s taking someone who isn’t performing well and getting them to improve; or taking a strong performer and challenging them to stretch, is about change. We are asking our people to change what they are doing. Perhaps, they are doing something wrong. Perhaps they can do something better. Perhaps they need to do something different. But to be effective, in getting our people to change and improve, we have to show them a clear path, we have to get them engaged both in understanding, but believing and owning the change.
To get them to see this, to give them the courage to step up to the change, we have to believe they can do it. Otherwise we set them up for failure–wasting their time and ours.
This is particularly important with poor performers. If we have given up on them, if we don’t believe they can fix their performance problems, then they never will. And we may be cheating them because of our own beliefs. If we can’t get our heads wrapped around believing they can improve, we might as well stop. We are best having a heart to hear t with them, moving them into a role where both we and they believe they can achieve success.
Coaching and developing our people is the single highest leverage activity we can undertake as managers and leaders. But regardless of how well we know how to coach. Regardless of how skilled we might be in asking non-directive questions. Regardless, how disciplined we are in investing the time in coaching. Regardless of how well we execute the “mechanics” of coaching, we never achieve sustained success unless we believe in the ability and willingness of our people to do achieve the goals.
If we don’t believe in our people, if we don’t believe more strongly than they do, we will never help them change and achieve extraordinary goals. We–our people and ourselves just end up going through the motions. Our lack of belief holds them back from achieving what they could.
We can’t do this casually, we have to be fully engaged. It’s not about cheerleading (though some amount of cheerleading helps), it’s about helping our people learn about themselves, helping them see a path to improving and growing. It’s about getting them to believe in it, visualize, and take action.
Think back to the good managers and inspirational leaders you have had. They probably had one thing in common, they believed in what you could do or what you could achieve more strongly than you believed it yourself. They challenged you, inspired you. They were disappointed when you didn’t challenge yourself to achieve your full potential.
As I reflect on my career, it’s been a number of key people–my parents, my wife, my family, some close friends, a few teachers, some inspirational managers, a few peers or colleagues. All of these people knew I could achieve more. They believed in me. They challenged me — not to meet their expectations, but to fulfill my potential. They are continuing to do this, because they know I can do more–because they believe that, I know I can do more.
Do you believe in your people? Do you believe more strongly than they do? Are you committed to their success?
If you are, both you and they will accomplish tremendous things.
For a quick weekend thought provoking piece, I thought you might be interested in this slide from Peter Thiel. This one slide encompasses so much of what we need to know about product introduction strategies, general sales and growth strategies. It’s particularly interesting when one hears so many discussions from SaaS companies that “No Sales People Are Needed!”
What do you think?
— sean rose (@sean_a_rose) February 8, 2015
In prospecting, one of the most important and difficult things to do is establishing credibility. But without this, moving forward, trying to get any type of engagement is impossible.
Too often, sales people are oblivious to this—this applies to the really bad sales people who don’t deserve to be selling. Or they do a really poor job establishing credibility, this applies mostly to mediocre sales people.
The challenge is, how do we establish credibility-or at least enough to get the customer to respond?
The classic mistake sales people make in thinking about establishing credibility, is “We have to talk about ourselves, our company, and our product to establish credibility.”
As a result, we see prospecting emails or phone calls that are all about us–who I am. “I’m a fantastic guy, you should really be interested in talking to me, I have years of experience, I’ve been assigned to your account…”
Probably this is closely followed by, “Our company is a world leader in, We are the best at, We are humongous with all these revenues……”
Probably closely followed by, “We make these really cool products, They are the best in the world, We are the known innovator, We received these awards.”
You probably recognize the formulaic approach. A variation of this is in every prospecting email, every prospecting phone call. Often, the company’s collateral follows at least the last two parts of this. And, if by some chance, you invited them to propose a solution, the first 80% of the presentation focuses on these three issues.
All in the misguided view that to establish credibility, we have to prove ourselves, focusing on who we are, who our company is, and what we sell.
People who do this, leave it to the customer to connect the dots on whether it has any meaning to them.
Great sales people know that establishing credibility is completely different. Simultaneously, it has virtually nothing to do about them, their company, their products, but at the same time it is all about them–but in a very different way.
Great sales people establish their credibility by demonstrating their knowledge of the customer–the enterprise and the individual, the issues they are facing or likely to be facing. They engage by asking about the customer’s business, sharing relevant stories and data about critical business issues. Their credibility is cemented when the customer thinks, “They really know their stuff, they know about us, they care.”
All this happens before a product is ever mentioned.
Great sales people also know the other things they must do to establish credibility.
They have a strong LinkedIn profile. They know one of the first things a customer might do is look at their profile.
Likewise, they do their research on the customer–individuals and enterprises, before the initial contact.
They don’t rush the process, though they always have a high sense of urgency. They recognize, that until the customer views them as credible, the customer won’t engage at the level they should. They may talk to you, but they are wary or apprehensive.
Great sales people focus on their personal credibility and don’t rely on their organizational credibility. They know this is important because people buy from people.
Mediocre sales people have to rely on the credibility of the company they work for, because their ability to establish personal credibility isn’t great.
Great sales people know they have to continue to reinforce and build their credibility with the customer, becoming trusted. They know they never can violate that trust.
Mediocre sales people think the credibility lies in their company and their products. This is why they continue to focus on pitching their company and products.
But mediocre sales people are forever disadvantaged by the sales person that has established great personal credibility and value to the customer.
What are you doing to establish and reinforce your credibility with every customer engagement?