Using Skip Level Meetings to Accelerate Sales Team Results
The Power of Skip-Level Meetings in Improving Sales Results
Jack Welch is one of the most successful and respected “managers” in the history of American business. If you have read any of his books or had the opportunity to hear him speak, you realize that he just gets it. While he has a tremendous breadth and depth of knowledge in the technical aspects of operational management, more importantly he truly understands people and how to provide a vision and lead them to heights that others fail to achieve.
In his book “Winning”, Welch writes that during one of his “work-out” meetings (an open forum company town hall meeting designed to eliminate boundaries and solve problems) while CEO of GE, a middle-aged appliance worker stated, “For twenty-five years you paid me for my hands when you could have had my brain as well—for nothing.”
Welch’s town hall meetings are synonymous with his vision for a “boundaryless” company. “Boundaryless”, in Welch-speak, means having no formal barriers to communication regardless of position or title; fostering an environment where all employee input is not only welcome but expected.
Sales organizations are always searching for answers, but often simply aren’t looking in the right place. Meetings between management and executives usually produce regurgitated action plans (re-packaged to look like a fresh idea) year after year but seldom yield the desired result. Frustrated, the key executives bring in outsiders, such as sales consultants, for a fresh set of eyes on the problem.
Trust me, we don’t mind the work. But, in the interest of transparency, one of the first things we are going to do is to initiate skip-level meetings with the customer facing sales representatives. In case you are unfamiliar with the term, “skip-level” is a meeting with an employee coming from at least one level above the employee’s direct manager.
The objective of the skip-level is to uncover information which may not be known by the manager or potentially known but not yet revealed to their superiors. Sometimes, in the flurry of their daily responsibilities, sales managers receive feedback but don’t think it’s relevant or significant.
Have you heard the expression, “too close to the forest to see through the trees?” Well, the skip-level provides a platform for a fresh set of eyes that are not too close to the trees. Almost always, the skip-level will find gold in that forest which will assist in resolving sales problems.
The next time that you need to resolve a sales problem or are looking for original ideas to accelerate sales, conduct skip-level meetings with the first-level sales reps. To be perfectly candid, these are the people that are closest to the customer and are normally far more knowledgeable about the real issues facing the sales organization than their bosses.
You are paying them anyway, so you might as well use their mind for free.
Posted May 24, 2013 / By Chris Hickey
Tags: sales consulting, sales consultant, sales turnaround, turnaround management, sales management, sales management training, sales management coaching, sales operations, interim sales management, sales force effectiveness, sales coaching, sales strategy, sales leadership
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