The next time you are working at your desk and all of your employees
are in-house, take a long and introspective look around you. Take in
what these folks mean to you. Then think about what you mean to them.
Some might call this taking stock, but I call it realizing your
potential. You can do great things with your business if you lead your
employees in the right way. And, similarly, they can succeed if they
are allowed to be clear with you on what they need.
Your business can prosper if you have a good handle on where you want
to go with it. Sales people will do especially well because they are,
by nature, confident types. When they believe in something, they are
all over it. So encourage your sales team to sell what your company
does, not the products you install.
I know some of my factory friends may take issue with this statement,
but it is true. The boxes of speakers, glass, components, and bundles
of wire are the enabling hardware to show off and sell what you do,
which is to create great ease and entertainment solutions in peoples
Clarifying Your Expectations
I want to talk about how to share expectations between you and your
employees. Notice that I said share, not the usual and redundant
set mode. Setting expectations is a one-way managerial process, and
that doesnt play well today. Were no longer a drone workforce waiting
to be told what to do and how to do it. Employees at all levels deserve
the respect of being led on a good business journey so long as they
have been appropriately involved in deciding the end game.
Employees who are respected in this manner will give you more than you
might imagine because they will believe in the goal. Yes, even if you,
the boss and business owner, stand to gain the most, a good team of
employees will want to see you succeed because they want to be part of
a shared winning experience.
Lets start with those confident, yet quirky, folks on the sales team.
Everybody knows that without them, nothing would happen, right? Your
sales team needs to be very involved with you as you work toward a
certain future for your business. Sales people will be your most vocal
group when it comes to talking to your prospects and customers. If they
are not being vocal, then youve got a big problem. Either someone else
is not busy enough with his or her job or your sales people arent
relationship-builder closers. Fix this, please.
Determining Sales Goals
A situation I often see is a CI business owner tracking his business on
a previous year comp sales basis. Although this is not an unjust
metric, it is not the one that is most effective. You need to track
your business against a current year goal. How you determine this sales
goal should be discussed with your sales people. They know whats in
the pipeline, what is likely to hold, what is risky, and how much they
think they can sell in new business.
Share this information among the sales team and any other employees who
are highly active in developing sales. Get ideas on how to do more
business based on the success factors that come up during the
discussion. Once you have a reasonable sales goal that everyone can
agree on, it is your turn to talk about where you see the business
going. You can only plan your future with realistic vision if you have
a shared understanding of the business potential.
Let your team know that the agreed upon goal can keep the team
together. Share with them what can be done by reaching this goal. Ask
them how they feel about it. If they say it is good, that may be okay
or it may be a telling sign of their lack of determination. If you
believe they are a good team, then perhaps they have given you an
honest, candid response that you should respect. On the other hand,
maybe they need a push beyond the current thinking.
Always Remain Positive
How do you take your team to this level while remaining positive?
Heres one way: Go back to what the agreed goal can do for the
business. Talk with them about things you want to do for the
businessfor example, hire two new technicians, build out a small home
theater with nice lighting, great seating, and a larger screen than you
have in the (unfinished) theater now. You also want to take everyone to
CEDIA EXPO by next year. You want this because you know it will be good
for the business and everyones CI soul. But, of course, doing this
requires more business and perhaps a few rules need to be broken in the
next 12 to 18 months to grow the business. Ask them what they think can
be done differently to try and get to these new goals.
This is all about sharing ideas, enthusiasm, and creativity so that
everyone digs what they are doing. If they are digging whats going on,
then you probably have really happy employees and you have a greater
chance of keeping them around longer to share the success with you.
Now, someone reading this who is not a sales person might be saying,
What about all the stuff I do for the business? Im just as important
as our salesperson. How come I dont get a say in this? Well, the
fact is that not everyone gets a say, but if you work for a good
person and you go to them and let them know youd like to learn more
about the business goals and how the sales people work toward them,
youve just done yourself a huge favor. Youll learn something new and
thats what everyone wants to see their employees trying to do. Ask,
listen, and learn. Bosses love to share their ideas so take them up on
Buzz Delano (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an industry consultant focused on growth strategies and new market plans for manufacturers.