When sales problems are leadership problems

Approaching poor sales performance with curiosity rather than accusation cans shift the perspective from blame to problem-solving

When sales problems are leadership problems
Since 2008, the mortgage industry has been inundated with problems with compliance issues. The excessive regulation came as a shock to the industry, and many organizations found themselves scrambling to react. As the smoke has cleared, though, and most organizations have finally been able to adjust to the new regulatory environment, many leaders in the industry have shifted their focus back to sales. Being allowed to stay in business is one thing; being capable of staying in business is quite another—and that's where sales comes in.

On the December 12 episode of my Lykken on Lending podcast, we had the opportunity to interview well-known sales trainer Ron Vaimberg on problems that are facing salespeople in the mortgage industry. There was one suggestion from Ron in particular that I found rather interesting. Some of the biggest problems with salespeople reaching their goals may come not from the salespeople, but rather from their managers.

Whenever goals aren't met, managers will typically review the salesperson's work and ask, “Why haven't you met your goal?” The problem with this question is that it's often accusatory and critical, rather than investigative and constructive. Managers have the tendency to try to shame their salespeople into being more proactive. Great leaders, though, ask the same question with a different intent. When they ask, “Why haven't you met your goal?” they really want to know why!

Approaching the poor performance of salespeople with a touch of curiosity can shift the perspective from blame to problem-resolution. If we can find out why sales are actually falling below target, then we can remove obstacles for our salespeople and help them become the successes we know they want to be.