Sellers aren’t robots.
Or workers on an assembly line. No matter how much certain sales bosses like to think they are.
Peter Drucker was one of the greatest business thinkers. One of the things he is most known for is his theory of autonomy.
He believed that knowledge workers, a term he first coined in 1959, couldn’t be treated like highly-supervised robots, as factory workers were. Instead, they needed to be given the freedom and autonomy to work independently and achieve their objectives.
Which is sort of the opposite of what happens in many sales organizations.
Jesse Marsch is the first American to coach a soccer team in the UEFA Champions League, the premier club competition in the world.
He’s the head coach of Red Bull Leipzig, one the top teams in Germany. He’s a master motivator and incredibly thoughtful about how to develop the capabilities of his less experienced players.
I love the following quote of his:
“Game day is for the players — I actually think coaches get in the way. There are occasions when unexpected things happen in a match and a coach has to manage that situation effectively. But, I want my players to go out there and feel free. If they’re constantly feeling judged then it’s a block for them to make mistakes and learn from them.”
Let me translate that into sales-speak:
“Selling is for the sellers – I actually think bosses get in the way. There are occasions when unexpected things happen in a sales situation and a manager has to manage that situation effectively. But I want my sellers to go out there and feel free. If they’re constantly feeling judged then it’s a block for them to make mistakes and learn from them.”
If your sellers constantly feel that pressure of being judged, then too few will experiment and risk making a mistake.
This is exactly what you don’t want to happen. Timid sellers produce timid results.
Mistakes are an essential learning path for sellers. You have to feel confident enough in yourself as a manager to let those mistakes happen.
It’s possible to build a culture of accountability in sales without every seller feeling that there’s a sword hanging over their head.
The best way to do that is to get out of their way. Establish clear expectations for your sellers. And then give them the freedom, and the responsibility, to make mistakes and learn from them.
Bestselling author of Amp Up your Sales and Zero Time Selling, Andy Paul is #8 on LinkedIn’s list of the Top 50 Global Sales Experts to follow. With more than 170,000 followers, Andy is a highly sought-after speaker and sales sage who interviews the world’s foremost sales minds and extraordinarily interesting people to bring you strategies and insights that you can use to generate epic wins and massive value.