I have a theory and believe that it is true (painting with a broad brush).
This theory may offend some people (though in reality it should not), but I think once most have read through to the end of this post, they will agree with me.
Take a step back, and think about it. Or check out these six commonalities:
How Managing Sales Activities is Like Raising a Child
Growth is priority.
Parenting: When a child is born you (and your family) want the most out of life for them, you will mold and encourage them to be the best they can be.
Sales: When hiring a sales rep, the manager (and entire business) want the best for that employee. Time will be taken to train them around the critical sales activities they’ll need for success.
Takeaway: Remember as you do train your reps that 87% of sales training content is forgotten after 30 days! So keep growth as a priority on an ongoing basis, rather than just while onboarding.
Paying attention motivates.
Parenting: How many times have you asked your child if they have brushed their teeth before bed? If you’re like me, enough times that you eventually have to threaten to go feel if said toothbrush is wet — only to watch that kid run as fast as can be to the bathroom!
Sales: Sometimes, this is just part of being a sales coach, especially when you have newbies in sales development roles. It can take someone paying attention to get those headsets glued to their ear and ready for more calls.
Takeaway: Tools like sales leaderboards can be a great way to tap into your team’s motivation and show them your leadership team is paying attention. Just make sure to keep the attention positive, to maintain a healthy environment. (i.e., don’t have your CEO calling reps out in front of the entire team for being on the bottom of the leaderboard). (Read more on that in “Can Sales Leaderboards Hurt Motivation?”)
Leading indicators are key.
Parenting: When your kid’s learning to read, do you ask: “How many pages are you going to read this month?” and then tell them to get started? No, you help them take it step by step. You work with them on letters, then words and understand that it will all add up to teaching them to read.
Sales: In sales, it’s the same. Asking your reps how much they’ll close this month, and then telling them to go ahead, won’t be much help. Instead, make sure they understand which sales activities will get them to closed deals. They’ll know where to focus, and you’ll understand that it will all add up to more sales wins.
Takeaway: If you haven’t yet, make sure to identify the key 3-4 sales activities that your team should be focused on. (Here’s a step-by-step guide.) Then make sure it’s clearly communicated to your team, so everyone knows at all times where they need to focus. Take it a step further by giving them the tools they need to understand how they’re performing against those KPIs at all times, too.
There you have it: How parenting and being a modern sales leader are one and the same. Can you think of other examples? I’d love to see them in the comments below.