In many places we hear of the talent war. This mighty battle for the best and brightest. It brings to mind an image of companies fighting tooth and nail for top billers who will bring with them cash rich clients and eager candidates by the score.
But what if you created all of your own talent?
Unlike most professions, with sales you start again every month or quarter. You can be cock of the walk, king of the hill one month, and desperate and frantic the next. In my line of work I have seen burnt-out recruiters who are just going through the motions or just can’t imagine getting back to who they were.
And it is how these recruiters are managed that will often dictate if and when they burn out, whether they can bounce back, whether they can maintain a consistently high level and whether they can become a True Talent.
In many agencies it is normal to take an abrasive, ‘in your face’, ‘must do better’ type of approach. Where the onus is squarely on the recruiter to lift themselves up.
But what if there was another option?
What if there was a way to lift them up and keep them there? Or even better yet, to create a culture of optimism and success and happiness from day one?
Of what if, best of all, it became self-controlled and self-reinforcing?
In my work there are dozens of things I suggest, train, coach and run through that are all important parts of building a Winning Mind in your sales people. What this article cannot do is give them all to you but what it can do is give you one thing you as a manager can start doing right now.
A question for managers: How and what do you praise?
That may sound simple but I suggest to clients that they praise effort and not just results and to do this in a consistent and targeted manner.
Because results are the effect and effort is the cause. Very simple. This simple rule of cause and effect underlies everything. Praising someone for results means they only receive encouragement for something they cannot control (billings = effect). And for sales, it is all about the steps you take, the steps you can control (productivity = cause).
So, as manager or director, you want them to be responsible for the steps they can control, the cause they can control and positive feedback is a great way to do this, if it is applied to an area that is directly influenceable by the recruiter.
Many managers will simply look at productivity as a given. The onus is on the individual to do it, to maintain it and that is that. But how often do we see recruiters fall away, see productivity nosedive and billings plummet as a result? It is also often why we see the ups and downs, ‘wave’ like performance of many recruiters.
And so if you, as manager, can help your consultants with this, why would you not? When it is something you can directly influence (cause) – unlike billings (effect).
Cialdini’s law of reciprocity states that doing something for someone creates a feeling of a need to reciprocate in the other person. As a manager praising effort, it creates two things:
• Firstly, a positive feeling from the praise itself and a causal link between effort and positive regard/feedback. It helps to keep them ticking.
• Secondly, it creates a sense of reciprocity in the recruiter because they feel indebted to the manager as the manager has done something for them – therefore they reciprocate by working just as hard or harder on activity.
Simple. Effective. And most of all, not something many managers do. Many managers ONLY focus on results (billings) as if it will influence the result. It is an inefficient way at best. Focus on a cause (the productivity) as a directly influenceable variable by the way that you manage and give feedback.
Many managers mistake sales management as being all about the results. But as we know, sales is a series of steps taken by individuals. As manager, think of the social and psychological tools you have to directly influence these steps. Praise and feedback is something we all do every day. Making a conscious choice of how we use praise and feedback, though seemingly so simple, can make cumulative changes ending in a different (improved) result.
A sales manager once said to me that sales success is never black and white, but always shades of grey. Controlling how you use praise and feedback will put more shades of grey in your favour.
And for a little extra thought, think about this.
Who else can you use to give this feedback/praise that will add to the result?
Engineering seemingly random situations for a desired effect is often under utilised in our industry – but can make all the differences to those variables which can be influenced.
Jamie Panter is a sales performance therapist and a founding partner of City Therapy Partners, London