The idea of driving the personal growth of independent sales contractors to achieve more sales, especially when you will be using their targets to be communicated from the bottom up in determining actual company objectives, will certainly ruffle the feathers of the traditionalists.
To achieve company goals, sales intermediaries are often at the receiving end of the pressure hose. Targets are handed down, quite lavishly from top to down. More than often this process are accompanied by all the motivational “jargon” (and a hidden threat), backed by academic theories to proof that “we are on the right track” and are “supporting you all the way”. The consequences for not living up to the required company standards can be quite devastating, not only to the perceived non-performer, but also in opportunities lost to the company in the long term.
Short term profits come before relationships. Not protecting and building on human capital, can be short sighted and costly, especially when recruitment drives need to be put in place to replace the so called under- performers
The vision is to create an alternative methodology of increasing production by developing, extracting human potential and raising people to new discoveries of themselves, instead of driving rigid sales targets. After all, they are the life blood of your corporate existence.
A common structure used to attract new business i.e. as employed in the life assurance industry (but not restricted to this industry) is to utilise a Business Development Manager (BDM) to service contracted sales advisers. These are independent individuals (not fixed employees) whose contractual existence is depending on meeting their contractual targets as set by the company. Why then do we forget that this is a symbiotic relationship?
A negotiated approach, on all levels, to bring about change is envisaged:
- Get management consent to change the status quo. Making management feeling good about them and subordinates (applying cognitive dissonance).
- Brainstorming with the adviser and get acceptance and commitment to future involvement. Three lists should come from this:
- Ideas for immediate usefulness
- Areas for further exploration
- New approaches to the problem
Some creative effort is required to extract useful ideas.
3. Develop and equip the BDM with the necessary skills and tools to assist and motivate the adviser towards self-
fulfilment, happiness and achievements of targets. It is important to note that this should be done within
allowable practices and does not make the BDM a “mini-psychiatrist”.
4. Head office has a strategic function to support, train, communicate and develop feedback systems. The focus
should not just be on the figures, but also addressing the motivational aspects of self development. Reporting
becomes a process of sharing and building on information flows.
Having the statistics and profile development on record will also assist with succession planning should a BDM
5. Create the “funnel” to do targeting upwards. The different levels of self development will determine a whole new
outlook on the figures, and senior management must be prepared to deal with this upside-down manner of
compiling goals into one company target.
The impact on the different role players are as follows:
The sales adviser
The adviser will have a better understanding of himself and his self awareness, especially in relations with other people. An increase in awareness of perceptual limitations and insight in why others respond to him they way they do can enhance their ability to sell.
Sales advisers who is motivated, having clear role perceptions and sufficient resources (situational factors), backed by the related skills and knowledge (ability) will certainly be a winner to back for the future. If they can align (with the backing of the BDM) their behaviour to goals, behaviour modification will impact positively on discipline and self-esteem; boding well for future profitability to all parties involved.
Communication and coordinating processes between BDM and adviser can be done via informal methods i.e. face to face or more advanced information technology systems. In an open relationship the BDM becomes part of the hardcore business aspects of the adviser, including personal time management. Another radical idea to consider in this regard is to first allocate time for personal activities, the time left will be used for production. It might just be a revelation on how much time there is available to work!
The role of the BDM is moving away from one of merely applying targets as communicated from top down, “collecting business” and a simple kindling of a friendly environment.
This can be the power of the self-fulfilling prophecy in action. By conducting regular and specific feedback sessions on the progress of development vs. targets achieved, relationships are preserved and individual differences resolved by applying proper conflict resolution. Engaging in the most appropriate goal setting methods can be both challenging and rewarding, but is ensuring long term relationships and an understanding of each other; surely securing a annuity stream of future business.
Head Office/Senior Management
By changing the top to bottom model, management can be in touch with reality in terms of what they want to achieve. By switching from their own “stretch goals” and blue sky thinking to a practical, real time approach will prevent “nasty surprises”. Main sources of income are secured with a fair indication of expected future income; making strategic planning easier. The question can be asked who is controlling who.....
1. A visionary organisation can move forward as a sustainable entity, when they are prepared to start thinking outside
the box and show the willingness to rely on their main source of income – human capital – to meet company
2. Focussing on people development requires a high level of trust, strong willpower, acceptance, focus and
commitment by all parties involved; especially when company goals are determined from the bottom up and not by
forcing targets onto intermediaries.
3. Dependency on a top down approach is reduced. The gearing effect of this voluntary approach seek to be more
rewarding than the old boring way of telling people what is required; let them tell you what can be done in terms of
their capabilities and help them to build on that. Formal planning, managing and reporting are now supplemented
with a strong focus on self awareness and personal development.
- Thank you for opening the mind