A lot of salespeople we talk to are moonlighting as RFP responders. These classically urgent tasks are thrown on top of everything else your sales team is already doing. Pretty soon you’re staring at a serious case of burnout.
After surveying 7,500 employees, Gallup uncovered the top five reasons for burnout in the workplace:
- Unfair treatment at work
- Unmanageable workload
- Lack of role clarity
- Lack of communication and support from their manager
- Unreasonable time pressure
Since your sales team is moonlighting as an RFP responder, you may have heard statements and questions that align with these burnout triggers.
- You didn’t tell me how to do this unmanageable workload.
- Hey, this is more than I can handle.
- I had no idea I would be responding to RFPs when I took this job.
- I’ve made suggestions to change our process, but nobody is listening to me.
- This RFP needs to be done in two weeks and I can’t get to it.
RFPs still need to get done on top of all of your sales team members’ responsibilities. So, how do you manage expectations and help your team succeed? By being more mindful as you change your sales leadership approach.
1. Manage expectations upfront
It starts before your salesperson even gets hired. This team candidate already has an impression of your organization, based on Glassdoor reviews or word-of-mouth. Their first impression of your organization is out of your control. But, the interview process is where you take control.
Interviews are an opportunity to manage expectations upfront, so the candidate knows exactly what you are hiring them to do. You will encounter people who are overqualified and underqualified for the position you are hiring for.
Be honest about that person’s qualifications during the interview. If they are overqualified, tell them that, and discuss how they will be better suited for another role when the right opportunity comes up. You will eliminate some of the churns and “burnouts” by making the conversation about the working relationship clear before they sign a contract and join your team.
2. Communicate and coach regularly
Burnout is influenced by your sales leadership style. There needs to be a certain amount of authentic interactions with each individual every day. Even if you have an open floor plan where everyone is in plain sight, give everyone a “touch” (i.e. a one-on-one check-in) on a daily basis. Otherwise, communication will slip through the cracks.
When you walk by one of your team member’s desks—assuming they are not on a call—stop and chat with them for a bit. We’re all busy, and it’s surprisingly easy to let simple communication opportunities pass us by. If you’re starting to lose someone, regular personal interactions might be the tipping point that wins them back.
Also establish a regular coaching rhythm, whether that’s once a week, every other week, or once a month. Having these coaching sessions will yield higher performance from your sales team, as long as you stay committed and consistent.
Your attention is undoubtedly being pulled in different directions…sometimes even polar opposites. If your team doesn’t receive the attention they expect from you, they will replace your influence with something or someone else.
Schedule regular one-on-ones and stick to that schedule. Avoid rescheduling these one-on-one meetings as your team will feel like you do not prioritize them. Plan on running through a list of five bullet points during each meeting. Prep beforehand, so your team member receives the undivided attention they deserve.
3. Equip your team with the best tools
When you step into your new leadership role at an organization, you inherit a set of sales enablement tools. You may like them, you may not. Your team will feel the exact same way.
The symbiotic relationship between you and your team starts with asking a question aloud: Which sales enablement tools do we really need? Follow that up with: And, why do we really need these tools?
Don’t fall into the “set it and forget it” mentality. Check in with your team to make sure the current tool/tech stack is getting the job done well.
Another thing to look at is technology consolidation. The software market continues to expand and evolve. Can you simplify your stack with a more robust solution?
Look at the sales initiatives you have planned for the year so you understand what your team needs. During this process, you will identify inefficiencies among your current tool stack and hear relevant feedback from your team.
Perhaps RFP responders are using 5-7 different tools (with most of them being workarounds). In this case, eliminate and consolidate into a data-driven RFP management solution that truly supports your team and your organization’s initiatives.
4. Work out your mission
We are all fortunate to live in a time of great abundance, but that abundance comes with drawbacks…like distractions.
As a sales leader, you face infinite distractions. There are many inputs fighting for your time, pulling you in different directions. If you’re struggling to stay focused on your goals, it’s worth listening to what Charles Wagner said in The Simple Life.
“By dint of action, and extracting from himself strict account of his deeds, man arrives at a better knowledge of life. Its law appears to him, and the law is this: Work out your mission.”
Keep in mind that Wagner published The Simple Life back in 1895, so when he talks about “man” he means “everyone.”
Working out your mission is about your personal mission…not your organization’s mission. What gets you out of bed each morning? What are you working toward? To become an effective sales leader who leads others to success, you have to know your why.
It all comes back to the expectations you set with your sales team upfront, before they ever join your team and step foot in the office. From there, it’s about supporting and equipping team members with consistent, personalized communication. Through it all, you need to work out your mission and stay true to it. Then, you will find success and so will your team.