I used to think that that my resistance to change was a personal problem. As soon as someone said to me, “You have to . . .” my first inclination was to do exactly the opposite. I now feel great sympathy for my leader who patiently let me rant and provided all of the details I needed to reach “my decision.”
Change management has not gotten any easier for contemporary sales leaders. The top people in direct sales are stuck between a company trying to move things forward and a downline with an attitude worse than mine. I recently offered 30 Questions for Coaching Leaders through Major Change about the curious places I would come from as a coach. If you are a direct sales leader, the question you are most concerned about is a different one: How do I help my team move forward?
A leader-as-coach role is one of the best for supporting a team through change. However, it’s not without its pitfalls. As a leader, you have a stake in the outcome of coaching your downline. You are walking a very thin line between protecting the company’s interests, your interests, and your team member’s interests. Here are some pitfalls you can work to avoid.
Ask more than you tell. Answers to your questions will tell you lots more than nods to your statements.
Listen more than you talk. Let them talk. You’ll find out what is really bothering your team member. If they are feeling oppositional, then your talk (no matter what you say) will only make them feel more righteous in their anger. Think back to the last time you were spitting mad. How would you feel if someone said, “Will you stop and be reasonable?”
Don’t oversell. Stop and think; would you be having this conversation if your downline loved the change? The more you try to explain how good things are going to be, the more you sound like you are selling junk cars.
Every change has an upside and a downside. Your job as a leader is to help others find them both. You are in the best position when you can listen, ask questions, and let your team member decide how the changes will affect their business.
Focus on the basics. Direct selling is always about three things: selling, recruiting, and teaching others to do the same. Keep your team focused on their business activities. The rest is just stuff.
If you are a direct selling leader who has been in this situation, what advice would you give about possible pitfalls?