Paul offers sales managers a different perspective when it comes to non-compliance to policies and procedures.
Take an honest look at the process of getting pushback. Does this policy or procedure add any value to the customer experience?
Cost without value diminishes you in the marketplace.
Regarding top salespeople, do their results have a greater impact than their pushback?
Educate your people on why this policy, process, or procedure is important. Gain buy-in instead of compliance.
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How do I get salespeople to follow policy and procedure?
(Transcribed from podcast)
We have a question coming from the website. This question is from Rui. So here is the question. I love the description here: “So salespeople tend to have their own style, technique and agenda when selling. Following policy and procedures has been a challenge for our people since they feel it’s a waste of time and would rather do things their way, especially our top salespeople. Our people need to understand they are not subcontractors. They have a manager and an owner to report to, therefore, they are expected to do their job a certain way that they may not necessarily like. What is the best way to approach this situation?” So how do you get your sellers to focus and follow the policies and procedures that are in place?
Rui, I’ve got to tell you, this is a question I’m sure every sales manager listening to this podcast has just perked up because they have asked themselves this question. So, on today’s show we’re going to answer that.
Before we do, though, hey, pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times. Again, with a looming recession, with a downturn predicted either at the end of this year or early next year, now is the time to take action. In fact, for all the sales leaders listening to this podcast, we have a whole section in this book dedicated to becoming a better sales leader through tough times, because tough times actually represent what are your greatest leadership opportunities. So pick up your copy wherever you get your books, Barnes & Noble, Amazon. Wherever you get your books, you can pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times.
So let’s get back to that question: How do you encourage your salespeople to follow the policies and procedures and processes that are in place? Now Rui, I’ve got to challenge you a bit here. First and foremost, as the leader of an organization/business owner/ sales manager, for all you sales leaders listening, you have to challenge your own policies and procedures. What’s interesting here is, too often in organizations we do things the way we think they should be done because we’ve always done them that way. We’ve always had that policy in place. We’ve always had that procedure to do it this way. We’ve always had these mandates for salespeople who are expected to follow them.
Now I get it. You know, there are certain things that just have to be done. But here’s my first tip. Number one: for every policy or procedure that you’re getting push-back on, you need to challenge yourself and ask yourself, “Okay, does this policy or procedure add value to the customer experience?” Does it add any value to the customer experience? This is a gut-check question, because if the policy or procedure that you have in place for your salespeople does not add any value to the customer experience, then why on earth do you have that policy or procedure in place, period. Stop. Think about it. Now there’s a reason your salespeople may not like to follow this policy or procedure. We have to take an honest look at it and say, “Okay, does this policy even make sense? Is it a good policy? Is it a good procedure or is it just something that I created that I’m in love with and because it’s my own idea?” We have to take an honest look at it. So, be aware of that. Be willing to challenge yourself. And sometimes salespeople are right, right? The reason they’re not following through on this policy or procedures is because maybe it’s a bad policy or maybe it’s a bad procedure. Remember that gut-check question: Does this policy or procedure add any value to the customer experience? And if it does, continue and move forward. But if it doesn’t, why are you doing it?
There’s great examples of this throughout modern business, one of which is Amazon. When I think about Amazon—. There’s a story I heard that Amazon early on—I don’t know if they still do this or not—but when they would have a meeting, a company meeting, and they were deciding on policies and procedures and decisions that they were going to make, they would keep an empty chair in the room—and I say they, the management team, or whoever’s making these decisions—they would keep an empty chair in the room. And that empty chair represented the customer. And every time they were in a tough spot, they didn’t know how to decide, they looked at that empty chair and said, “Okay, how is this going to impact our customer?” And if it negatively would impact the customer or the experience, they wouldn’t do it, or they would change it. Use that same idea. Again, Rui, “Does this policy or procedure or process we have in place add any value to the customer experience?” If it does keep it, if it doesn’t get rid of it, because again, cost without value diminishes you in the marketplace. So remember that.
Now let’s get back to this. You mentioned the personality of salespeople—especially some of the top salespeople. You know, one thing that I’ve learned about top salespeople, top performers, they tend to be a little contrarian in the way they approach things. They tend to challenge the status quo and that’s part of what makes them such a great salesperson. They tend to march to the beat of their own drum. So, we need to take the good with the bad. Every sales leader that I’ve ever worked with, they would much rather have a top performer that challenges them, that is maybe even a thorn in their side, because their results have a greater impact on the organization than their pushback.
That’s what we’re focusing on here. So Rui, as a reminder, you need to take the good with the bad. And, one of the training programs we offer here at my company, we offer a DISC behavioral profile training. It’s a way to help people understand how they communicate, how they approach their work. And if you’ve ever taken a DISC assessment, it can give you some insights into how you perform your work. And there are some people that are naturally more detail oriented/process oriented, and there’s other people that are not. They’re more results oriented. They’re more people oriented. We’ve got to be aware of that. It takes all different types of people. And sometimes that means we’ve got to take the good with the bad. So, keep that in mind Rui. And just understanding, just understanding how they approach their work is going to help you as well. Maybe they are more outcome oriented, or people oriented and that’s going to influence how they approach their work.
And the final tip: explain to your salespeople why the policy or process or procedure is important. What is the impact? What are they going to gain from it? How is it going to impact the customer experience? How is it going to help them be more successful? If you want to establish positive change with your sales team, you’ve got to sell them on it the same way they sell customers on your solution. You’ve got to explain what’s in it for them. A lot of this is related to adult learning theory. You know, when we learn new things, we have to understand why it’s important. Our brain is constantly filled with all these different priorities, all these different things going on. You’re competing with all the other priorities they have going on in their minds, so you need to educate and explain why it’s important. Explain the why behind the policy and the procedure. That’s how you gain buy in versus compliance. And sounds like what you’re looking for is some salespeople that will buy in. So be able to explain why.
Rui, thanks for submitting that question.
That’s the show for today. Again, when you’re in this environment—how do I get my salespeople to follow our policy procedures and all that good stuff—first and foremost, number one, you need to challenge yourself. Ask yourself, “Okay. Is this a good policy? Does it add value to the experience?” If it does keep it, if it doesn’t get rid of it.
Secondly, realize it takes all different types of people. And some of the things that frustrate you about that salesperson are some of the things that make them so successful. So be aware of that. Sometimes you’ve got to take the good with the bad.
And then finally, educate your team on why it is so important. Explain what they’re going to gain from it and what’s in it for them.
Make it a big day.