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Sales Coaching-the peaks and valleys mentality (2)

Sales Coaching

It is a surprise to me that you are reading the second part of the article that generated many responses from business leaders a month after the first episode. I was at the valley when Emeke Iweriebor died, it was a valley experience for me because Emeke was among a few of the leaders I had worked with who truly understood and appreciated relationships.

After my tribute to Emeke, I could not write the article you are reading because I drifted into a plateau. The plateau in peaks and valleys mentality is a temporary place of rest when the feelings are neither that of the peak nor that of the valley, My plateau was the Edo election, and I wrote two articles on Philip Shaibu, the man I referred to as the deputy man of the year and the ‘Obesere’ of the Edo politics. I besiege the youth of Nigeria to be different just as Shaibu did and make the change we deserved.

Now It is the time to revert to my fore- sales and leadership coaching, I did also mark the second anniversary of this column with a change of name, this column, after two years of inspiring engagements with my readers, has changed from Positive Growth with Babs to Leadership Shepherd with Babs. The core of what you will be reading here is to achieve two principal objectives, the first is to develop the leadership view, capacity, and influence of the readers, the second is my life call, to help individuals and organisations operate at their best productive, innovative and wellbeing state. Yes, wellbeing is also applicable to organisations.

As a coach my job is to ensure your employees and other functional experts think and act like the owners of the business and develop into sustainable, productive assets for your organisation.

Recall the story of Johnson, who used the peaks and valleys mentality to change the performance of his branch within 30days to the end of the financial year. Please read the first part of this article published on August 27, 2020, for you to be on the same page with me.

Being at the peaks of performance is more dangerous than the valleys. At the peaks, it is easy for complacency to set in. At the valley, you can only go in one direction.

How do you apply the peaks and valleys concept to performance optimisation and productivity in your organisation? How can a sales leader navigate his team through a tough time like COVID-19 and deliver on his or her numbers?

Let us start from the most dreaded side of the coin- the valleys. You are at the valley when your performance is at the lowest point. When the sales figure is in deficit with your region or branch in negative variances. You are likely to be threatened with sanctions including being replaced. When you are the valley, the first thing to know is the fact that you did not get to the valley by error. It is what you have failed to do or did wrong that accumulated into your present performance.

So, take responsibility even if you inherited the valley. For new leaders, it is not an excuse that you have just been appointed. Any change of leadership is expected to come with immediate adaptation, change significantly in process or customer experience and result, including growth in the key performance indicators within the first 60days.

I was at the valleys of poor performances at a time. What moved me into the peaks is the mindset I exuded and the knowledge of the phase I was passing through. I was chasing a billion naira within 30days like Johnson. I took responsibility for the performance and openly declared a riot for the next 30days. A riot in my creation is a period where you put in triple efforts in a coordinated way to generate results faster than expected. I stood in front of my team, inspired them, certified, and declared them as riot starters for the remaining days of the year.

We identified who was at a similar situation in the past and how they got back to the peaks. I charged them to join me in the race to fight for survival. I looked into their eyes and expressed my beliefs in their capacity to turn the low statistics around if they push as I pushed. One of the mistakes sales leaders made when the figures are not on their side is to start using abusive languages and threats. You cannot run down your working tools with negative comments and expect them to generate positive energies that deliver results. As a team leader, the knowledge of your team is vital.

In my valley situation, I knew one of my team members would likely not deliver or contribute to the result. So, I play to her strengths. She will be in the office attending to the reporting and coordinating requirements to keep the business running. To my other five team members, I charged them and decided to visit five to ten of their customers with them. In my case, I call my staff by their middle names whenever they do something remarkable for the team. I noticed they love that. I switched to the use of their middle names within the 30days, and every day we move out to make sales; I will tell them what to expect.

Another big mistake most of the sales leaders do during the valley period is to over monitor their team. It is appropriate for everyone to be counted during a difficult time, but the psychology of selling has it that no salesperson wanted to be treated like a process person. Salespeople want to retain their initiatives always.

During my coaching engagement with one of the sales leaders of a bank, I realised he was fond of monitoring and calling his staff’s customers, and yet the performance was not improving. I told him the effects of his action. His team surrendered the result and focused on the process. They stopped thinking about the outcome since he was busy monitoring them.

Within two weeks, the performance improved because he demanded results and allowed them the initiatives for execution. At the valley, it is easier to move to the peak if you lead from the front and apply yourself to the demands of the occasion. I remember how Late Stephen Keshi requested Ademola Adeshina to stay at the defence while he overlapped to get the winning goal for the team. At the time of performance crisis, what we do in terms of accepting responsibility and inspiring our team will determine how quickly we leave the valleys for the peaks.

Being at the peaks of performance is more dangerous than the valleys. At the peaks, it is easy for complacency to set in. At the valley, you can only go in one direction. But at the peaks, it is easy to slip into the plateaus, a place of temporary rest and stop developing new markets, or deepening the existing relationships. It is easy to be carried away by the praises and accolades. I told one of my friends who is enjoying the honours of the peaks to remember that some people were praised yesteryears.

As sales leaders or leaders generally, we should not stop the efforts and tenacity of purpose that got us to the peak. At the peak, it is easy to fall into the valley of poor performance. If you stop doing what brought you to the peak or you do not modify your action to reflect the current market reality, you will be back at the valley earlier than expected.

In summary, what you do when you are at the peaks of performance will determine how long to stay at the peaks. What you fail to do when at the valleys of poor performance will determine how long it will take you to get out of the valleys.

In two scenarios; be it at the peaks or the valleys, the concept of value chain mapping and marketing is a veritable tool to avoid slipping into the valleys and sustaining the peaks for as long as your emotional and mental toughness permits it. There are no permanent high or low periods of performance; it is your mindset that determines how quickly you turn the circumstances into your favour. I expatiate more on the peaks, and valleys sales approach in my book- the value chain banking (a practical guide to winning customers’ business and loyalty).

My pen is about to hibernate and will meet you again next week. Until then, be a leadership shepherd to your team and colleagues.