A year ago, I wrote about my youngest daughter's first day at school. I felt her teacher did a remarkable thing by offering the class an opportunity to complete a series of questions allowing her to discover how her students would best learn. The teacher was able to identify potential strengths as well as potential weaknesses within each student, much like what a manager might do to discover sales talent using a sales talent screener.
The teacher did this using animal analogies and my daughter discovered she was an otter... a relentless, hard worker determined to complete tasks and projects but who may sometimes speak out of turn or be perceived as bossy by others.
This year, the same daughter is attending her first year of middle school. She came home again with a questionnaire! This time the questionnaire had three specific questions asking about what ways my daughter likes to learn, what she expects out of her class, and what she expects of her teacher.
The benefits of a teacher doing this for my daughter and the other students in her class are huge! I see those benefits when managers I work with use the Individualized Management Questionnaire within six months of hiring a new salesperson.
There are three reasons why every manager should be using an Individualized Management Questionnaire with every salesperson on their team:
1) It feels darn good to a salesperson when they know their manager cares.
An Individualized Management Questionnaire allows a sales person to share how they like to conduct business, how they like to be managed, and what expectations they personally have of you.
As a manager, you may find the day gets away from you before you're able to connect with each sales person on staff. Is that important? Yes—if the salesperson is the type that can't get enough attention from you when they need it most. But no—if they're the type that doesn't want as much attention and tends to feel smothered if you’re too involved. The IMQ tells you which salespeople need what kind of support from you.
That good feeling the salesperson gets when you ask the IMQ questions will turn into a very negative feeling if you don’t modify the way you manage him or her… you need to act on what you heard and make obvious efforts to meet the seller’s expectations if you want them to feel great about working for you. Let your actions speak even louder than their words.
2) When you combine a salesperson's innate talents with what drives them most, you have a recipe for success.
By understanding more about how a sales person likes to get through their day and how they like to be managed, a manager has the opportunity to adapt what they know about the person’s innate talents to how they like to get their job done.
If you do this for every salesperson on your team, you've truly created a management plan customized to each individual… specific to each person’s needs and maximized for each person’s expectations. This is key to maximizing performance.
3) The Individualized Management Questionnaire is an opportunity for a salesperson to feel comfortable expressing themselves.
Not all salespeople are comfortable expressing their opinions. Actually, the talent of Command is what tells us whether or not they're ever going to tell you how they really feel.
If an Individualized Management Questionnaire is introduced as part of your management process and style, a salesperson will then have an opportunity to feel comfortable and share what they feel will help them be most productive.
At The Center For Sales Strategy, we have a formalized Individualized Management Questionnaire that we share with all the managers we work with. If you'd like to develop your own questionnaire, think of questions that you can ask that will really help you get to know how your salespeople like to work with their manager. For example, would they prefer to have frequent check-ins with you? Or would they like to be able to follow up infrequently with email once a week on Friday?
Keep in mind that not all salespeople are aware of their own weaknesses, and therefore they may have a hard time explaining what's really best for their growth. But the information should still be used to help you tailor your approach to their weaknesses as well as help them excel with their strengths.