Sales managers: Ryan Estis has some advice

Having conversations about performance and expectations, and then holding people accountable is critical in cultivating a high-performance culture, said Ryan Estis.
“Managers who shy away from or ignore those hard conversations inhibit morale and limit the performance potential of the entire sales organization,” said Estis, a management consultant whose clients range from Adobe Systems to the National Basketball Association.
In a recent blogpost, he identified four ways sales leaders can approach performance conversations to coach people through performance challenges, create alignment, and ultimately raise accountability and sales performance:
Set clear expectations through a conversation where you collaboratively set goals. At the end, both parties should feel aligned and positive about decisions that were made. “If you set clear expectations and get buy-in from the performer ahead of time, it’s easy to have courageous conversations about performance down the road, because everyone’s on the same page,” said Estis.
Outline specific performance plans and consequences. That means setting goals and expectations, and mapping out a plan for how the result can be achieved. Sales reps should understand requirements, process, and rewards for meeting goals. They should also expect corrective action if parts of the plan are not being met.
Check in with employees often. Estis believes great sales leaders are hands-on coaches. That means having regular conversations with employees about their progress, opportunities, and obstacles. “Have open and honest conversations to remind employees what’s expected of them and how they can get there,” said Estis.
Get honest with underperforming employees. If a sales rep falls short, Estis recommends being direct and taking the time to help them understand where they’re going wrong. “Sales leaders who don’t have courageous conversations about underperformance are doing their employees a real disservice,” said Estis. “We owe it to our people to have honest conversations about performance to help them grow and succeed, and if the role isn’t a good fit, it doesn’t serve anyone to prolong that situation.”
He believes real leaders communicate with clarity and consistency. They champion a culture of expectations, accountability, and high performance. “Top producers thrive in this kind of work environment and welcome the challenge,” he said, “and they have a whole lot of fun beating the competition and growing the business.”
Estis will share his vision on Next Level Leadership at the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA) SMart Conference 2015, set for July 12-14, 2015, at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans (LA). Click here for full conference information.

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