Last week, I discussed what happens when managers and companies lack consensus in the direction the sales team should be taking. A lack of consensus is evident when in-fighting and open disagreements take over the company and a culture turns toxic.
The tricky part about lack of consensus is that it is hard to detect when companies are doing well, but becomes obvious when business starts to go poorly. In my view, one telling symptom is when there is more interest in an individual’s success than in the team’s success.
An offshoot of a lack of consensus is lack of focus. Lack of focus inevitably results in poor execution. A lack of focus is especially clear when companies have a scattered approach in resolving their current challenges.
Management teams that lack focus consider everything important (when you ask them they give you a list of 100 things that they are working on) but don’t support initiatives with 100 percent effort and the required matching resources. Frankly, lack of focus is common during hectic markets such as the one we are currently experiencing. When there is lack of focus, critical issues such as finding sales talent are often delayed.
As an outside consultant for lenders big and small, I am able to quickly identify whether lack of focus is a problem by asking managers and employees a few key questions. These include the following:
• Can you tell me your team’s core competency?
• Ask an employee to describe the team’s core competency. Does the individual’s answers align with the manager’s response?
• Can you tell me who your chief competitors are in detail? (“Every company in mortgage banking” is not the correct answer.)
• Do you know the profile of your best referral source or prospect? Does everyone on the sales team know it?
• Are any of your managers working at cross-purposes with others?
• Is it a struggle to determine where to allocate your marketing dollars?
• What is the elevator pitch that your originators use?
So take a second and ask your employees these questions. The answers can tell you a lot about what is going on with your sales team. If you are afraid to ask them because of the answers you might hear, that says something in and of itself. The success of your team in 2013 is resting on correcting the lack of focus.