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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Are you a Salt-N-Pepa Manager?

salt-and-pepperI’m not talking about the hip hop ladies from Queens, who burst back on the scene recently in a Geico ad, I’m actually thinking about salt and pepper.

Salt brings out the flavor in food, and a “Salt Manager” brings out the natural talent in their people.  Pepper, meanwhile, adds a strong sensation to food, a “Pepper Manager” brings a healthy dose of expectations and accountability. 

How to be a Salt Manager

Bringing out a person’s natural talent starts by having an objective assessment of what those talents are. It’s rare that one of your people, even one of your stars, is fabulous at everything. So you need to know their aces and spaces, what comes naturally to them and what is difficult for them to do.

The natural inclination of most managers is then to (a) assume the person needs no help and support with what they’re fabulous at, and (b) lots of training and coaching with the stuff they find tough. That’s backward.

What they need from their manager or mentor are:

  • Suggestions for how to use their strengths to propel them to greater success. People love to use their strengths and to be shown new ways to use them. The savvy manager sets personal reach goals and stretches expectations to push the individual along the path they were made to run.

  • Workarounds for their weaknesses. The strategy is not to make them good at what they’re not born to do but to show them how to maneuver around those gaps in their talent configuration. Every workaround must use one or more of the person’s strengths in a way that minimizes the weakness or makes it irrelevant.

How to be a Pepper Manager

how-to-be-a-pepper-managerThis is all about accountability. Don’t set your people up for failure by holding them accountable for so many goals and metrics that they’re certain to miss a bunch of them. Be selective. What counts? What aligns perfectly with the organization’s broader goals? Budget attainment? New accounts opened? The share of the customer (for top accounts)? Customer satisfaction measures?

Whoa! Four goals is plenty in most sales organizations; the fewer the better. Tailor them to each individual. Communicate them crisply. Be certain that incentives are in line. Provide timely feedback (preferably automated). Accountability means making promotion and firing decisions based on these metrics.

A good pepper manager also determines top leading indicators, the activities they know lead most reliably to achieving the performance measures. These will vary greatly by sales organization and individual role, but might include the number of face-to-face calls each week, number of new prospect calls each week, number of proposals, dollar amount of each proposal, etc. It’s best to keep this list short, too; focus it on 3 to 5 indicators to bring clarity and focus.

If you want stronger performance, take the advice of Salt-N-Pepa, and just push-it!  Push yourself to become a Salt and Pepper Manager, that is.

If you could use some help adding just the right dose of pepper, download our Sales Performance Dashboard and lock in on an essential performance measures and leading indicators for your team.

sales performance dashboard download