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How to Get the Most Out of Your Sales Team

The ReTell Podcast is back for episode 1!

In this episode we talk: 

  • Why salespeople don’t listen to you;
  • People will always support a world they help create;
  • The Standard & Goal Method;
  • The value of positive peer pressure; and
  • Why giving your team a seat at the table and a voice in the conversation matters 

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Yo, what up, fam? Welcome to episode number one of the RE tell podcast I am your host and guide here. Doug Stewart. Yeah, episode number one. So I thought we were talking about something that’s really fundamental to retail in general, which is getting the most out of your sales team. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s something that we talk about all the time, like, how in the world? Do we motivate people to do the things that they need to do? So that they get what they need to get, which is closed sales? And how do we identify who we should spend the most time with as leaders as managers? And, you know, how do we make sure we have the right people on the floor? The right people on the phones, the right people in the right seats? And then how do we move people around in a way that we make sure that we’re maximising not only not only the, our business, and the overall benefit of the organisation? But also how do we make sure we’re doing right, by our people? Like, you know, most people, I guess, there are some that that aren’t this way, but most people aren’t looking to profit in a way that demoralise or demeans their, their people.

I mean, of course, there’s some there’s some of there’s some of them out there, just none of them. That would be a part of the fam, or listen to this podcast. So if you’re listening, that’s probably not you. So what’s next is for you. And look, here’s the thing, all of us have either said this, at some point, or it’s been said to us at some point in our lives, maybe, maybe it was in terms of selling. It also may have been your significant other a parent, a teacher, a guardian, a friend, but somebody is either said this to you, or you said this to them. And it’s this is this, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you, you know how that ends, right? I’ve told you 100 times, I’ve told you 1000 times I’ve told you a million times. And you think why is it that we say stuff? Like why don’t why does that statement resonate? Why is that something we’ve all heard? Well, I have an idea. I think I know why we’ve all heard it. Because there has been a time in our lives at some point where we decided not to do something that we knew we were supposed to do.

And we’re expected to do. And I would also suggest that when that was said to us, it wasn’t about something that was difficult. It was not is normally about something that’s easy. Like, as an example, when I say that to my 10 year old, like, Baby, if I’ve told you once I’ve told you a million times. It’s normal. It actually it’s never, it’s never something complicated is not like, because she doesn’t understand the geopolitical impact that this, this one particular decision makes globally. Like, it’s never anything like that. It’s not why she doesn’t understand why she’s 1010 years old and doesn’t understand calculus yet, or why she doesn’t understand physics yet. Like, it’s not something difficult. When I say that to her, it’s normally because she didn’t put her socks in the in the dirty clothes basket. And she left them on the floor. Or it’s because she knows that she’s supposed to take a water bottle to school, and she didn’t take one to school. It’s like, it’s easy stuff and stuff that she knows that she supposed to do. And I know that she can do but she doesn’t do it. This is the same thing that happens on Salesforce across the country every single day, where sales managers are looking at their salespeople and going gosh, if you would only do this, if I’ve told you once I’ve told you a million times, if you only offer protection on upholstery, then you will sell more of it, you will make more money. Like if you only show the adjustable base. If I’ve told you once I’ve told you 1000 times just show the adjustable base, and a percentage of people will buy it even if you’re terrible at presenting it. If I’ve told you once I’ve told you a million times just do this, you will make more money it’ll be good for you. And then they still don’t do it even if it would be good for them. So what do you what do we do with that? Like how do you my guess is anyone that has been a people leader for more than about seven minutes has felt the frustration Have trying to pull people across their own finish line. And if that’s not the most frustrating thing, trying to pull another person across their own finish line, it’s awful. In fact, I think it could probably be one of the most demoralising things that a leader can face is people knowing what they should do and not doing it. And, and what’s even worse, not only do we not meet our financial goals that are set before us from our leadership, but we also know that as people leaders that we are unable to help our team reach their full potential, even when they refuse to do it.

So I came across this quote once when I was when I was running stores myself. Because I grew up in this I was born into a furniture retail family, my grandfather, by the time I was born, my grandfather had multiple furniture stores in the Raleigh area, my mom and dad had a furniture store, my aunt uncle had a furniture store. So no matter where I went, from the time I was born, till the time I left home, I was either going to coming from or talking about the furniture store. So I grew up in this and I started selling at about 12 years old. And I know what it is to work in the store. In fact, for a long time, my my role, the way my role works in my family business is I had to do everything that was required to make the sale complete, which means I had to be part of the team that took the inventory from the warehouse and replenished on the floor. We were we were a warehouse stack at Deep sell at cheap sort of a no frills, just deals kind of a kind of a furniture company. So I had to restock the floor, I had to greet the customer, I had to build a relationship with the customer, I had to help curate for the customer, get them to the point of purchase, and take them to the counter complete the sale and most of the time, I would we would ask them if they would like us to follow them home. And if they said yes, I would go back into the warehouse I would get a handcart I would put the furniture on the handcart I would grab one of our delivery guys, we would load it up, we would meet the customer in the in the in the parking lot and I would deliver the furniture. And then I would come back and in my grandfather’s grandfather’s mind, the cell still wasn’t complete, I would have to a couple of days later do the deposit for the cells that I had made take the deposit to the bank and only if those checks cleared the bank did I get paid. And that is the type of environment that I grew up in. I grew up knowing and being taught that hard work is the antidote for absolutely everything. And and that the sale is not complete until the check clears the bank and the warranty expires. So I get it man like I get what it is to run a sales team. And not only in my family business, but also other other organisations and I’ve I’ve run retail sales teams, I’ve run rep teams, I’ve run 1099 W twos and like it’s the frustration is real man. And when I was running stores later in my career, like in my in my late 20s I can remember coming across this quote. And it wasn’t very long after I got involved in attended my first Dale Carnegie programme, I came across this quote by Dale Carnegie, which today is one of my favourite quotes of all time. And the quote goes like this. People will always support a world they help create. People will always support a world that they helped create. So I remember hearing this quote, and this was back in like 2013 and thinking to myself, this is something that I can plot apply to, to to motivate and help my sales team be the absolute most efficient and productive that they possibly can be.

So I decided to put this quote through the paces. And so I built my leadership structure around this particular quote, and look this this next story is not to toot my horn, or to talk about how successful I’ve been because at some point through this podcast journey, we’re going to talk about some real doozies that I’ve had because I’ve had some stinkers in terms of ideas and decisions and they haven’t been pretty and I have any resilience I Have is because I’ve done some dumb stuff in business in my career. And so it just so happens that this isn’t one of those dumb things. But it’s not because it’s something I did. It’s something that I made space for and created an environment for and and the people that were responsible for the customers, essentially, my customers, my sales team who was responsible for the organization’s customers, they’re the ones that Max maximise their performance, because they were given a seat at the table and a voice in the conversation. And when people do not feel as if they have a seat at the table and a voice in the conversation, they will not only not only will they not listen, and they won’t do what they’re supposed to do. But a lot of times, they will try to sync the entire ship. And we’ve, most of us have been there, where it’s like I have people on my team that are that are trying their best to break this whole organisation. Either either by gossip or discourse, or, or, or on purpose, losing sales and losing business for some misplaced principle that they have about something or some programme. But when people have a voice in the conversation, when people have a seat at the table, when people feel as if they’ve helped create the world around them, they will always support it. So here’s, here’s what I did. So I decided that I knew I knew I could not let let’s, let’s say I couldn’t let the inmates run the asylum, I was responsible, I had to take full ownership of what was going on. And most of the reason was because I was being held accountable for that, and I was responsible. So I knew I had to have a starting place. Alright, so my starting place was this. I had numbers that I had to hit. And those were what I considered my standards. So these are standards, this is where I’ve got to get there’s no like if ands or buts. It’s not like, well, traffic was down. So I didn’t hit the number like No, man, did you hit the dang number? Or didn’t you? There’s no excuses. This is what you’re accountable to in any of us with a budget, that’s, that’s what happens. Because the person above us is required to hit those numbers and the person above them, and it can keep going. And even once you get to the CEO level, a lot of times, it doesn’t matter, because you’re responsible to shareholders as an example, right. And so, like, I knew I was responsible, so I had to set some standards. So these are my standards, these are my metrics, these are the percentages, the numbers that I have to make sure that my team hits so that we can be successful. But what I did next was something I’d never done before. And it changed the course of my my leadership style, but also the way that I related to my to my team. And so I took those standards. And I met individually with each of my salespeople. And I gave them their seat at the table. And I gave them their voice in the conversation. And I went through the metrics and said, Here’s what we have to hit in this particular store. These are the numbers we have to hit. So you know you better than I know you.

So why don’t you go through let’s go through line by line each metric. And you tell me what you think you can do. Now what I think not what I require, but you tell me what you think you can contribute to this. And we went through line by line and it was things like you know, total sales for the for the for each quarter total sales for the year, adjustable adjustable bed, attachment, percentage headboard, to mattress, mattress, percentage to furniture, case, good percentage to total sales, upholstery percentage to total sales, product protection percentage to total sales, right? So we go through all of these metrics. And they set their goals in light of the standards. So we do that with every single salesperson. And then I go to the next door. And I do the same thing next door because the same thing. So then at the end of each of these conversations, I set the expectation for my part. And it was like this is like hey, I want to make sure that I’m establishing the correct support. So that you can meet the goals you have set. Not that I’ve set. I didn’t set your goals, you set your goals. And so if there comes a time where you have to change your goals, either up or down, it’s your responsibility to come and talk to me about it and we will have those conversations. And so my job is to support you. So What are some of the things that you can see that you might need is support? And most of the time, they would go, Well, what do you what are you talking about? Like, give me some examples? And it’d be like, Okay, so is there a particular area that you may need more education and more training in? So is there a brand that you don’t understand? Well, or you don’t know? Well, and if there is, let’s, let’s get in touch with that particular brand, or that sales rep. Let’s have him come in, like, make some questions, figure it out. And I’ll support that. And something incredible happened when people had their own goals. And they knew that I wasn’t there to push them, I was there to support them to reach their goals, and they had the ability to engage about those goals. At any point in time. This, this amazing thing happen. Within 10 business days, I kid you not exactly 10 business days, I run the reports as by percentages. And our attachment rate on adjustable bases doubled, our revenue was up significantly, our bedding percentage, went to over 20% to total sales, our product protection went to 50% attachment rate. And it never slowed down across multiple locations. And it’s not because I was a great sales manager. It wasn’t because I was a great leader. It was simply because I got the hell out of the way. And I gave them a seat at the table and a voice in the conversation. And they were accountable because it was their goal. And the standard was just a starting spot. Oh, and by the way, most of the time when people had a standard and they were asked most of the time, most of the time. They overestimated what they could do. And they fought for it. And then we adjusted as we went along. But all of them all of them bet on themselves above the standard. Now some of them said things like oh, man, my my, my current betting percentage is only 11%. So you know, 9% increases. That’s a that’s a big jump. I don’t know if I can do it. Okay, cool. So what do you think you can do? Well, I think I can go from 11 to maybe 14. Okay, cool. And what period of time? Well, this quarter, I’m sure I can get to it. Okay, what support do you need? Well, I need I need this particular rep to come help me understand this. I need maybe some maybe, maybe, maybe Charles, who has the highest percentage in the store? Maybe Maybe I’ve talked to him and get some information from him and have him walked me through some of the things that he does. And so then they get themselves from 11 to 14, in you know, less than a quarter, which almost always happened. And you sit down with them again. But oh my gosh, congratulations. Like, this is amazing. You went from 11 to 14%. What are some of the things that you do? What are some of the things that you did? Well, I did this and I did that and you go on that? Oh my gosh, that’s amazing. So now that you’re 14%, would you like to set a new goal? Because you’ve hit this goal? And they go like, Yeah, I think I can get to 16. Okay, cool. And what period of time? Well, neck by the end of next quarter. Okay, cool. What are some of the things that you need in terms of support that will help you get there? Well, I don’t know. I think I just need to keep it top of mind. And I need to do the things that I have seen work more. Okay, great. How can I be helpful? Well, just remind me, just remind me throughout the week, you know, ask me hold me accountable. Okay, cool. So I’ll ask you. So what happened was, instead of going around asking people what they did, so that I can know whether they did right or wrong, I was asking people questions that they had already gave me permission and asked me to ask them. And so they were less likely to forget to offer something like product protection or to offer or to present an adjustable base or to remember to, to, to to sell a mattress with every headboard. They stopped forgetting because it was they weren’t trying to remember something that was important to me. They were remembering something that was a part of something that they said that they wanted to do. And I really I really believe that this is the variable for sales leadership. Right? It’s like once your team sees you as a resource and a support system. They start doing the things that they know they’re supposed to do because most most salespeople in the country know what they’re supposed to do to be successful is just that they don’t do it and this is the gap. This is like a this is more of a psychology portion. And this is much longer of a conversation we want get into today. But there’s this gap between what we say we believe and what we actually do. You know, we, I have this prevalent in my life, there’s a lot of things that I say I believe that if I really interrogated my behaviour, there’s no evidence in my behaviour that I actually believe that. Like, like, as an example, I say that my health is the most important one of the most important things to me. And I strive to put things in my body that help me be as healthy as energetic as productive or whatever as I can possibly be. Yet, on a regular basis, I will sit down, watch Netflix and eat an entire sleeve of Oreos. So what is it that I really believe? Do I believe what I said, I believe? Or should I? Should I measure my belief based on what I do? Well, I should only measure my belief based on what I do. Because to know and not to do is not to know this is something my one of my college basketball coaches used to tell me that I absolutely hated is I would make a mistake and the whistle would blow and I’d be like, I know, I got it, I got it, I got it. And he would go, No, you don’t have it. Because to know and not to do is not to know so the only way I know that, you know is if you do it. Otherwise, you just have an intellectual understanding. And there’s really three there’s three layers that we have to go through in terms of what we believe, because believe real belief, drives action. And action is the only indication of belief. Okay, so So I know we’re, we’re getting we’re getting up there, we’re getting really broad here. But here’s the here’s the thing, here’s kind of the punchline is that if we can help as a, as a, as a sales leaders or people leader, if we can help people take ownership and responsibility for the for the role that they have in the organisation, if it’s dares, if they have a seat at the table voice in the conversation, if they have helped helped create the world they live in, they will support it 1,000,000,000% because it belongs to them. That’s the variable for sells leadership and success in the retail business. So I’d love to I’d love to know what you think about that. In fact, if that’s something that you’re willing to try, like yo reach out we can have a conversation, I will I will, I will give you the templates to implement this process. 100% this is this is not proprietary to me, this is something that people have been doing for a long time just not as often as we should be doing it in our industry. And so, fam do whatever it takes to create a world that your people can support. And they will do that. If they have a seat at the table and a voice in the conversation. And that is what family is all about.

So fam we will see you in episode number 2!

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