Leadership

What to Do When Your Sales Team Stops Performing

At this point in my career I’ve done over 2,000 live trainings and keynote speeches for Tony Robbins.

Most of the time I’m brought into a company for one of two reasons: either the company is performing at an extremely high level but they want to squeeze even more potential out of themselves and their team – OR – their team is struggling, under-performing, and they just can’t seem to hit their goals.

When that’s the case, this question tends to pop up “what do I do with my under-performing sales team?”

And I’ve got four steps for you today to start turning things around:

1.  RAISE THE STANDARDS

The difference in people, businesses, organizations, and ultimately results is not based on talent or skill — it’s based on standards.

Think about this:

How many times have we seen a superior athlete or team get wiped out by the underdog who clearly had less skill?

What about the rookie salesperson who doesn’t know the first thing about closing a deal but with enthusiasm, grit, and effort, they outperform multi-year veterans?

The difference between fit or fat, wealthy or broke, all comes down to the standards we hold ourselves to.

And when I’m working with a team that’s struggling I can almost always track those struggles back to a lack of standards.

I know they aren’t training regularly, they aren’t investing in their team, they aren’t spending time to train on scripts, role-play, product knowledge, communication, rapport building — or maybe even all of the above!

And when we’re put into a stressful situation — say a sales presentation — we don’t rise to the occasion, we fall to the level of our training.

It’s critical for anyone looking to grow that they raise their standards.

And what does that actually mean?

It’s a difference between someone’s SHOULDs versus their MUSTs.

It might be hard to see in the moment, but over time we can see a massive difference between the people who say “I should make my calls today” versus the person who says “I MUST make my calls today”.

Anyone who is in great physical shape didn’t get that way by accident. It wasn’t genetics, it wasn’t luck — and sure those things help — but ultimately it’s the standard that they MUST work out, they MUST eat a certain way, they MUST make certain decisions throughout the day, week, month, year — to support their body and their health.

And I’m not necessarily here to tell you what your standards should be or what they must be, I’m simply asking you “what are your standards?”

How many calls per day? How many presentations? How many times do we ask for referrals? How often do we train? How much time, money, and energy do we put into our people?

Standards.

A funny side note about standards. In the real estate world, agents are notorious for being late… to everything!

Which — if you think about it — is absolutely mind blowing…

This real estate professional who is helping someone with the largest financial transaction of their life — and expects to make a commission on $200,000, $500,000, or a MILLION DOLLAR home and you are 15 minutes late to every appointment!?

That’s not just “who you are”, that’s a complete lack of standards and I apologize for my fellow leaders who didn’t care enough about you to tell you what you need to hear instead of what you wanted to hear.

30 Minutes early is on time. On time is late. That’s my standard!

But let me tell you about the #1 Real Estate office in Southwest Florida. It’s run by a woman named Yoselyn who has INCREDIBLE standards for her team.

Everyone is required to attend the sales meeting. New agents, experienced agents, top producers, bottom producers — if you’re on their team — you show up!

If you don’t show up, you’re not on the team for long.

On top of that, if you are late by even a minute, you are required to sing or dance in front of everyone and you’d better believe the phones come out to record the video!

That’s not just to be obnoxious — that’s to set a STANDARD.

No wonder she has had the number one office in that area for SEVEN YEARS.

That’s the type of standard that excites me!

Being a leader doesn’t mean everybody follows you, it simply means you have a higher standard than everyone else around you.

And if you have a higher standard, that’s when people respect you. That’s when people WANT to follow you. That’s when people WANT to prove themselves to you and the team!

Define your standards.

2.   CHANGE YOUR LIMITING BELIEFS

But you can set a new standard for yourself and your team and say “I’m serious!”, “We’re going to make this shift!”, “Today starts a new chapter!”

… then that little voice in the back of your head says “… who are you kidding?”

You can’t do that long term.

If you make everybody show up to meetings, they’ll quit!

If you push people to train harder, they’ll resent you!

Who the hell are you to tell these people what to do anyways?

That’s why step two is to eliminate the limiting beliefs.

They beliefs that say you can’t, you’re not smart enough, you’re not good enough, you don’t deserve it, nobody cares anyways, the market is tough, the economy, the taxes, president, weather, government, industry, inventory, interest rates…

These limiting beliefs that stop people dead in their tracks.

Occasionally I mention Yoselyn’s standards for her real estate team to another broker and I get immediate (and sometimes viscous) feedback.

“I can’t do that!”

“They’re independent contractors, I can’t MAKE them do anything!”

“She shouldn’t do that!”

“My people would leave for another brokerage if I did that!”

“I can’t force them to do what they don’t want to do!”

And I’ll admit, in those moments, I get a little sad for the people in that office. Their leader hasn’t tackled their own limiting beliefs and they sure as hell aren’t helping their team with theirs.

I’ll let you in on a little secret… commissioned sales people don’t leave one team for another because of a better split, perks, or more money… they leave because they feel unappreciated.

These beliefs STOP leaders from actually doing what’s best for their team — and that’s all rooted in fear.

If you as the leader aren’t consistently giving, doing, and providing things that show them they are appreciated, that show you actually care — in spite of what somebody might think about you — they WILL end up going elsewhere eventually.

They might even say it was about money… but here’s the truth (and the truth stings sometimes), it wasn’t really about the money.

Being a leader doesn’t mean everybody follows us, it simply means that we have a higher standard than everyone else, and we demonstrate the psychology that it takes to succeed in spite of the challenges, in spite of the obstacles, in spite of the fears!

To get the team to the next level it’s not just a skillset that does it… it’s a MINDSET.

That’s why you MUST eliminate the limiting beliefs in yourself and your team.

3.   MODEL WHAT WORKS

We live in this world that’s drowning in information and starving for wisdom.

Every time you scroll through social media there’s some advertisement from somebody trying to teach you to become successful at something they’ve never done themselves.

Real estate coaches who’ve never sold real estate. Sales people who never sold anything. Relationship coaches who aren’t in a relationship. Life coaches who don’t have their own shit together!

What Jim Rohn and Tony Robbins taught me was “success leaves clues”

In every industry, there is someone who is successful no matter what.

The idea of modeling is to study those people, identify what are their habits, routines, and patterns and adopt them!

If they are making a certain amount of phone calls, we adopt that standard and make that many phone calls!

If they are knocking on doors, we knock on doors.

If they have certain beliefs about clients, sales, the industry, the market, the economy that really empower them to take action? Adopt them!

We get as close as we possibly can to modeling their behavior and if we do it well enough, we will start producing similar results.

I find that bottom producers aren’t paying close enough attention to what the top producers are doing.

They think they’re lucky, they think that they are somehow special, they think it’s because they’ve been doing it longer, they’re more charismatic, that the leader likes them more — or any number of limiting beliefs — INSTEAD OF STUDYING THEM!

The truth is, if they just studied them harder and took similar actions — they, too, would be in a better position.

We as leaders need to set the precedent though. Anytime there’s a top producer in the office, it’s our job to get the person to share their secret sauce and TEACH the rest of the team what standards they have, what beliefs they hold, and what activities they are doing consistently.

If you do THAT, now you have a real training program. Now you can teach the successful model to everyone on the team. THAT is where things change.

4.    NOTICE WHAT YOU’RE GETTING AND BE FLEXIBLE IN YOUR APPROACH

The last little note here is about tracking results consistently.

How many calls did everyone make this week? How many meetings did the have? How many deals were closed? How many deals turned into referrals? How many referrals turned into deals? What did we do for follow up this week? What did we do to provide outstanding customer service?

What gets tracked gets managed — and if you aren’t actually tracking these activities with NUMBERS, you’re relying on someone’s feelings… which are almost always wrong!

Plus — if you see the number every week, it tells you the whole story!

If John’s sales are down and he says “well I just don’t know what’s going on.”

You can easily say “let’s look at the numbers”.

You made a lot of calls this week, you knocked on some doors, but you didn’t get very many meetings. Let’s take a look at what you’re saying on those calls and in those situations.

Or maybe Sue says “I made a TON of calls this week and I’m still getting nothing!”

And you say “well how many calls is a ton?”

“I don’t know, but LOTS!”

“Well, let’s see what the actual number was… 12.”

“There’s no way, I made WAY more than 12!”

Here’s the truth: numbers never lie, but our emotions sometimes do.

She might honestly feel like she made a bagillion calls this week, but it isn’t until we actually see the truth can we correct it.

So track the numbers… for every single person… every single time.

Lastly, if you’re not seeing the results you want — you’ve got to be flexible in your approach.

It doesn’t mean you change the goal, but you might change how you go about getting that goal. If something isn’t working, try something else, if that doesn’t work, try something else, if that still doesn’t work, try something else.

Try UNTIL you reach the goal.

CONCLUSION

At the end of the day, leadership is not for everyone. It’s a servant’s career. A leader is beholden to their people, not the other way around.

Your job as a leader is to help people achieve their goals and dreams. And many times that requires you stretch yourself far beyond what you thought you would ever do.

You have to have higher standards than everyone else.

You have to have more empowering beliefs than everyone else.

You have to seek out more training, skills, and knowledge than anyone else.

You have to hold people accountable, not to you, but to themselves.

You have to care more than anybody else.

QUESTION

Who are the best leaders you’ve ever met? What are some of the qualities they have you really admire?

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About Me


Hey, I'm Stephen. I believe that we are in control of our destiny and we can choose to create the life of our dreams. As the National Trainer for Tony Robbins I advise and consult with Fortune 500 companies, executives, managers and professionals in the areas of peak performance, leadership, organizational behavior, psychology of achievement, and sales.