By Jim Augustus Armstrong “I’m having trouble getting my salespeople to do what I tell them,” a frustrated dealer told me during a recent coaching call.
It was common for her (the manager) to spend hours going back, fixing errors and doing things that got missed—all of which caused a lot of frustration for everyone involved. She has worked in her father’s flooring business most of her life, and she was stepping into a bigger leadership role. Interestingly, I hear complaints of this kind from lots of dealers, many of whom have been in a leadership position for years. So, the advice I gave to her applies to anyone who wants to maximize “buy in” from their salespeople or other staff members and improve performance.
Following are some tips:
Create a written system for each task. If it’s not written down, it’s not a system. So, the first thing I had her do was create a checklist of the tasks she expected her salespeople to do each day with each open project.
Set clear expectations. I advised my client to meet with her salesperson and cover the following points with him:
- The way they’d been doing things was frustrating for everyone, including him.
- That she had implemented a new system that would make his job and everyone else’s easier and a lot less frustrating.
- Exactly what he was expected to do each day.
I recommended that she make the tone of the meeting positive, so Rob would feel this was about setting him up for success rather than scolding him. In other words, begin by giving him the chance to rise to the occasion.
Establish training and accountability. For the first week, I asked the manager to conduct nine-minute “check in” meetings with Rob each morning to go over his open files and cover the tasks that needed to be done on each file. This was not to be a long, drawn-out meeting, but instead a quick check to make sure he was clear on expectations—and to give her a chance to provide training for anything he needed help with. Then they would have a second nine-minute “check-in” meeting at the end of the day to go over the files once again to make sure all the tasks were completed correctly and address any problems or questions. After the first week, I recommended she reduce the check-in meetings from daily to a couple of times per week. She also scheduled a full day of training for their staff on using their flooring software. They weren’t utilizing it fully, and this was causing problems in their workflow.
How to know when it’s time to part ways
If a dealer has an underperforming team member, I always find out if they’ve given that team member: 1) clear expectations, 2) training and 3) accountability. Many times they haven’t. So, before letting a team member go, I have the owner/manager first set up the employee for success by providing him/her with these three critical tools. Until you give them the tools, you’ll never know if someone is underperforming because they lack the tools or because they’re simply the wrong fit for your business. Once the tools are in place, oftentimes the team member will begin performing well. But if they still don’t, that’s the time to think about parting ways.
Jim is the founder and president of Flooring Success Systems, a company that provides floor dealers with marketing services and coaching to help them attract quality customers, close more sales, get higher margins and work the hours they choose. For information visit FlooringSuccessSystems.com.