My kids are completing their education now, and I’m grateful to their schools for laying a strong foundation for success. Vital to our kid’s success has been our attentiveness as parents. We tracked their progress, got to know teachers, Principals and coaches, and attended events. Not ‘helicopter’ parenting, just attentive. We showed our kids and their schools that we valued their success. It was intentional, and it mattered.
Do your managers pay this type of attention to the daily paths of their sales teams? Is the client experience as important to managers as it is to their salespeople? If the answer is ‘no’ to either of these questions, the manager must get more intentionally involved in the development path of their salespeople. One way to do this is the manager/salesperson covenant. When you invest in skills training, a covenant can ensure maximum ROI for the salesperson, manager, and the company.
What is the Covenant?
- Shared commitment. The salesperson and manager define their roles in skill development.
- Customized. It ensures the salesperson’s unique needs and challenges are supported.
- Clear. The salesperson knows what to do. The manager knows how to help.
What it’s not:
- Punitive. This is about getting better and being more successful and confident.
- Forever. Competence comes from practice and coaching. Success should change the pact.
- Burdensome. It’s about focus and relevance. A good use of time.
|Approach Path||Value to your salespeople, managers, and company|
|Craft the Covenant||
|Prepare to support the salespeople||
|Reinforce the skills until competent||
Here’s an example of what a covenant could look like once a salesperson’s skill gaps have been confirmed:
Manager: The purpose of our conversation is to discuss what you will need to succeed this year. I would like to discuss the skill development needs you think will be important to achieve your goals. The benefit to both of us is that you will meet your goal, I will meet mine, and the company will prosper. How does that sound to you?
Salesperson: I like it. Let’s do it.
Manager: I understand your goal is to become a better negotiator so you can ensure that your client gets the best possible outcome while we also get the best possible outcome. Is that correct?
Salesperson: Yes. I am finding that if I can’t negotiate an agreement that is mutually beneficial it really hurts us in the long run, inhibiting future opportunities, negatively impacting our relationship and who knows what other negative effects.
Manager: I agree wholeheartedly. In order to help you achieve the skills to do that, here’s what I promise to do:
- Provide you with the opportunity to attend a negotiation skill building seminar
- Get your feedback on what you learned and where you think you’ll need the most help
- Observe you using those skills, and the tools that develop them, and provide feedback that will help you improve
- Connect you to others who want to develop those skills so you can compare experiences
- Talk with you about your challenges using the skills and discuss ways to use them more effectively
Salesperson: That would be very helpful. I promise that I will use those skills and tools whenever possible and provide you with opportunities to observe me in action so you can provide the feedback, both positive and negative, that will help me get better.
As you can see, the covenant doesn’t have to be cumbersome, adding layers of work. It documents the commitment of both parties to work on the area’s most relevant to success, and it formalizes their importance and priority. The end result should always be to help achieve the sales goals of the individual, which feeds into meeting the sales manager’s goals and so on.
Attentiveness takes commitment and vigilance, but starts with the belief that you have an essential role to help your people succeed. Parents know this covenant, and in their gut managers do too. Start with a covenant, put the structure in place, and commit.