Kellum's korner: Dear manager: Don't let numbers numb your sales staffAnthony O. KellumSales meetings strategy America was built on the backs of salespeople. We're in the business of selling money, and without that intangible transaction, we wouldn't eat, our staffs wouldn't be able to provide for their families and our doors would close. So if selling is the heart of our business, why do we persist in bogging down our loan officers with meetings, numbers and projections, rather than allowing them more time and freedom to sell? The best salespeople only care about selling. I challenge you to get out of their way and let your stars be stars. The people who succeed in this industry are go-getters, but they don't usually like to be told where to go and what to get. The successful sales personality calls for a great amount of independence, and that can be hard to mold into the traditional corporate hierarchy. In fact, the main reason I started my own firm was because I couldn't stand my sales manager. All he did was talk, all we did was meet, and I was always itching to be out selling. Many of us probably hung out our shingles to get away from tyrannical bosses. But have we become those same numbers-driven tyrants? In answer to the meeting-over-action model, I offer the following hints: Recognize and reward Does it work better when your spouse nags you to do something around the house or when your spouse asks sweetly with a kiss and a smile? Most of us will admit that it takes a bunch of nagging followed by that kiss and smile. So if you're chewing your staff out with poor sales performance, be sure to add the sweetness of incentives and awards to balance the negative with the positive. Growth and development Use low numbers only as a point of departure for a new and improved course of action. Individualized development of concrete action plans means that you not only share negative information, but you also provide the next steps for how to get out of that hole. Open communication Don't let meetings take the lion's share of your day at the office. Your moneymaking capacity should never be immobilized by your meetings. Make sure to schedule them at times that won't inconvenience your clients and will allow sales staff to use their technology to address their clients' most pressing needs. A main weekly meeting might be best, with individual coaching one-on-ones that allow you to target key staff members whose performance is directly affecting the slump and address what they should be working on specifically. Let your stars shine There's a reason why you handpicked each of your sales staff. The best salespeople love to sell—it's what they do and what they breathe. Many of the top salespeople repeatedly turn down management positions because of the simple fact that they don't want to be overburdened with all of the nitpicking that comes with leadership roles. Show your sales team that you still understand life on the frontlines. Be that coach and cheerleader for your team, and allow them to run with the ball you entrusted to them. By having targeted agendas to laser-focus your meetings and by providing concrete strategies for your team to improve, everyone will come out of meetings refreshed, energized and empowered. The worst thing we can do is berate people for past performance without providing a road map for future improvement. The best sales strategy, like anything in life, is balanced. We can't expect our sales team to go out and sell, sell and sell some more when all we do is meet, meet and meet. Property is power! Anthony Kellum is a past president of the Michigan Mortgage Brokers Association, as well as a speaker on a variety of topics regarding the mortgage industry. He may be reached at (248) 866-9292 or e-mail [email protected].
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