Many of us seek new things in our lives to stay engaged and motivated, but even the most adventurous among us value certain things that are consistent. There are obvious consistencies we depend upon like gravity, the sun coming up in the east and setting in the west, or a manager who is very consistent in setting expectations. You probably didn’t see that third example coming, did you? But it’s true.
If you believe that most people want to do the right thing for their employers, the only thing that could trip them up is not knowing what the right thing is. For that reason, the best managers are boringly consistent about setting expectations their people can internalize and follow.
After all, if a boss is asking for one thing today and something different tomorrow (and yet something new after that), how can their direct reports respond appropriately? That’s why research shows people will work longer for even a bad boss than an inconsistent boss. Perhaps you relate thinking back on your own career?
So, how do sales managers make sure they are setting consistent expectations? By far the most effective method is maintaining a consistent agenda for each and every one-on-one meeting with the salespeople who report to them. We suggest a two-item agenda:
- A review of the status of each of their Key Accounts. Key Accounts are those 25% of customers who comprise 75% of the company’s revenue. What have they been working for this Key Account in the last few weeks? What new needs have they uncovered? What have they done to expand their sphere of influence with this customer? What ideas are they running by this critically-important client?
- A review of the status of each of their Target Prospects. Targets are those future Key Customers who have the dollar potential to spend at Key Account level if we motivate them to do so and fit other critical elements of the Ideal Business Profile for the company. What have they done to secure a quality appointment? What insights on that customer’s business have they shared? What desired business results have they uncovered and what solutions have they proposed? What help do they need at this point to advance this sale?
That’s it -- only two items on this agenda. By the way, if you follow this same agenda week after week, your salespeople will figure out you think retaining and growing key accounts and closing target prospects are important, and they would be right. They won’t show up week after week without having those answers. But, the beneficiary of this consistent approach is not just the manager, it’s the salesperson. There is great comfort in understanding exactly what is expected of you in a job and this approach can help you live that out.