“You’re only as good as your last quarter”
As we start a new quarter, the pressure is back on sales teams all over the world.
In the classic movie Glengarry Glen Ross, Alec Baldwin who plays Blake, a troubleshooter brought in to shake up the sales team, proudly states:
“First prize is a Cadillac El Dorado, second prize is a set of steak knives, third prize is your fired.”
“Boiler room” sales cultures drive short-term performance, poor sales cultures, and high staff turnover. I should know, I’ve been in them, I’ve made good money in them, I’ve even created them, and but I’ve ultimately rejected them.
There’s a much better way, that drives both stronger performance and with far superior longevity and culture.
Founders, CEOs, and sales leaders don’t take enough responsibility for the consistency of their sales teams, in fact, they often contribute to their unnecessary downfall by rolling out age-old tropes born out of boiler room sales cultures. One you’ll often hear at the start of each quarter is:
…” you’re only as good as your last quarter”
😬 Is a consistent top performer, who has has one-under-par quarter suddenly teetering on a performance improvement plan (PIP), if the new quarter doesn’t get off to a fast start?
😥 The start of a new quarter is ultra stressful for the most dedicated salespeople regardless of what their pipeline looks like.
Tropes like this help though right? It’s part of what drives top performers, I hear you say.
😰 The anxiety of going back to $0 is VERY real, but rarely will they show it.
Do you think compounding that anxiety will get you the result you are looking for?
So rather than compound the anxiety, by lazily “pressing play” on an age-old trope, consider breaking the mold and doing the following:
💙 1. Create a safe space that allows them to open up about any challenges they may be facing.
It’s your job to ensure they are supported. Some want and need more support than others. What everyone wants is to be heard. Show you are human and be there for them. Bad stuff might be going on under the surface, don’t compound it.
💪🏼 2. Remind them of why they are uniquely incredible at what they do.
Confidence is everything in sales. A small reminder of what got them here is often all they need.
🔤 3. Support them in re-focusing on the basics
We all lose sight of the basics from time to time. I find it liberating to go back to basics, and so will they. Nothing beats it. Help them get back there and build again.
💥 4. Myopically focus on their strengths and play to them
The day I learned to only focus on people’s strengths was a transformative day for me in leadership. It takes effort to uncover individual strengths but that’s your job. Do it. See what happens.
❌ 5. Understand their weaknesses and work hard to ensure you play away from them
Who focuses on weaknesses? That’s kind of what this trope does if they had an under-par quarter right? Who does that? That’s how you create a failure culture in the end. You might get short-term results but it won’t last. Understand weaknesses enough to play away from them, but that’s pretty much it.
👊🏼 6. Commit to getting personally involved in their deals, if they’d value that.
Nothing beats having someone's back more than personally investing in their success. Get in the field with them and help them through this patch if that’s what they need.
Healthy cultures breed healthy and consistent results. Don’t buy that you need to apply a constant binary form of condescending pressure to get results. It might work for a few quarters, but it will take its toll on your team, and ultimately it will take its toll on you.
Before you roll out the old trope, pause and consider if that will drive the consistent success you need to win. It almost certainly will not.
Wishing you all an amazing Q3!
About: Wayne Morris is the Founder of Morris Consulting, LLC a consultancy practice advising multiple tech companies in the US and Europe on building optimal go-to-market motions. Formerly Chief Revenue Officer at Wonderschool Inc, an a16z backed Edtech SaaS & Marketplace start-up, where he led and executed a successful pivot during the pandemic that resulted in $multi-million ARR and industry-leading growth. Prior he was Chief Revenue Officer and a long-standing member of the executive team at Guidebook, where led the company through 5x growth across the US, EMEA, and APAC over a 6 year period. Previously he was GM of Maxymiser UK where he was part of the leadership team that led the company through 14x growth in 4 years, prior to them being acquired by Oracle. Wayne also had stints in sales leadership roles at leading AdTech firm Criteo, and Kelkoo (acquired by Yahoo!) in the UK, and Hitwise (acquired by Experian).