The Alphabet Article Series – The ABCs of Solving Sales Problems – The 3 “Y’s”

Unlike some of the other articles and letters in this series, the “Y’s” have their own uniqueness in as much as how they relate to one another. It is almost if they are not only intimately interconnected, but the first two, Youth and Yeoman are woven together in a way that if properly guided can ultimately have a profound, positive impact on Yield. Like many things in life, the many moving parts we experience in our business lives all contribute to the whole. In this case, it’s just important carefully monitor and nurture certain areas to make sure your team is achieving the desired outcome.

Enter: Youth, Yeoman, Yield

Youth. There was a time I had mixed feelings about this “Y” in our own work culture. I don’t want to be the “old guy” in the room, saying things like “I walked up hill both ways to school” or “it certainly wasn’t like that when I got started”, but being human, I must admit that as more and more millenials entered the work force, I had my reservations about clashing value systems. Being a “Gen X” guy, I was raised sleeves rolled up. What I discovered over time, though, especially with the younger generations, is they want to work smart. And, they bring a ton of ideas to the table. So, instead of resisting differing values, I started to embrace them.

As a sales leader, I’d encourage you to do the same. Not that all of the ideas are brilliant, or even palatable, but they are fresh, creative, and in many cases can be shaped into something that might just benefit the team. I’d also suggest you consider creating an environment where ideas and energy are welcomed. You will need to channel them both, that will be part of making sure they are of some benefit to your team or your culture, but acceptance is the first step. If you are not moving forward, you’re moving backward, there’s no such thing as steady state in business.

Yeoman. You’ve heard the phrase “the yeoman’s share”, obviously meaning the majority of the effort. I would also link yeoman to another adjective, seasoned. In most cases, it is your seasoned sales members who are carrying the bulk of the work, the bulk of the effort, and even, perhaps, the bulk of your sales pipeline. So what to focus on? Two things. First, make sure that those seasoned producers are not only compensated fairly and timely, but make sure there are accolades that come along with the efforts. It’s easy to overlook a producer’s effort sometime, especially when they consistently produce well. Compensation is one method of acknowledgement, but it’s not very personal.

Second, blend it with the energy of the youth on your team. If possible, you want as much of the knowledge and commitment from your seasoned folks to be transferred to the younger staff members. That means allowing them to work as equals, or bare minimum on teams where there is a mentor / mentee relationship that is formally established. By the way, it wouldn’t hurt is some of the ideas and energy were transferred the other way. I believe “old dogs” can learn new tricks, and frankly, staying up with innovative ideas and energetic ways might just reinvigorate some of your seasoned producers, in thought and action.

Yield. We all know about this. We study it. We analyze it. We measure it. And we should. After all, our returns on our people, our efforts, our investments, and our time all matter to the bottom line. And, by all means, make it a real priority in every decision you make as a leader. Since we all understand the importance of this, I’d like to offer a couple of alternative thoughts to consider.

The first is that you may want to factor in some “feel good” as you measure your yield. In other words, how much good will can be associated to it for your clients and your staff. Hitting metrics is important, but how you get there is also important. Also, could the return you offer your clients be more than just $$ figures? Could there business be better in some other way? And, how about your staff? Are your processes and procedures in evaluating their yield factor in alternative considerations like being a team player, always going the extra mile, or pitching in when it’s beyond their normal scope or responsibilities? Just some thoughts.

The second is expectations. I know sales quotas need to be met, and numbers need to be reached for consistent growth. And, as a leader you had better be measuring. Sometimes, however, a business quarter goal or a specific initiative goal gets set up to fail. Why? The expectations going in are unrealistic. Everyone wants to shoot for the stars, I get that. And, there is nothing wrong with dreaming big and working hard. But you owe it to yourself and your sales team to be very critical and realistic on the front end when setting expectations. If you are off from the start, you’ll be off in the end, and you’ll have nothing but frustration along the way. Another helpful thought is to not be afraid to readjust your yield expectations along the way. It doesn’t make you a poor leader to make and adjustment downward. Quite the contrary, in fact, it makes you astute and aware, and frankly, much more respectable as a leader. Your team will appreciate your ability to be real about the situation as it is, not as you would like it.

Put people first, use the 3 “Y’s” as they can benefit you best, and know that I am here to help or just chat, should you ever want to discuss what’s best for your team.

To raising all ships!

P.S. Be sure to join us next week when we talk about the 3 Z’s – Zeal, Zest, Zip