Your best friend is someone you would do anything for. Great sales leaders should make their team members feel the same way. Sales reps will naturally work a little harder, and produce a little more, if they feel a strong connection and responsibility to their manager.
Some sales managers call this the “belt loop theory” (because it’s like attaching your reps to your belt loops). But whatever you call it, proper application of this strategy can increase your team’s overall production, as well as boost your new employee retention rate.
Some important basics about “belt looping” your sales team:
- A great sales leader knows what is important both professionally and personally to all their sales reps.
- It doesn’t matter if you have anything in common with your reps or not; what really matters is that they feel like you actively care about what is important to them.
- The sooner you start “belt looping” reps, the faster they will begin to produce, and the more likely they are to make it past the honeymoon phase of a new sales job.
So, how do you “belt loop” your sales reps? There are a few different ways that I’ve learned:
1. The breakfast training session
Early on in my entry level sales position I found myself struggling with the more advanced concepts. Things like vocal inflection, mirroring, and actively using SEE (smile, eye contact and enthusiasm) evaded me. So my sales leader asked me to be at work 30 minutes early one day to work on these concepts. She brought me breakfast and we worked through them on the white board. To me, it felt personalized and attentive, and I quickly mastered these concepts—and felt grateful for her one-on-one help.
2. The favor
If one of your sales team members sees that you stuck your neck out for him when he was struggling, he’ll feel instantly more allied with you.
In my early days on the sales floor, my production was so low that I was pretty sure I was about to be let go. I was reading the Little Red Book of Sales at the time, and my team leader saw that I was putting in the effort.
Later, she pulled me into the office with my manager. When my manager started talking about my poor production, I thought I would be fired—but my team leader chimed in to say she could tell I really wanted to be there and that I was studying to master my pitch. Because of this, my sales manager decided to keep me on a little longer (as long as I promised to start getting some sales). Three months later, they joked with me about how they never had any intention of letting me go, but that they knew I would do anything for my sales leader if I thought she had saved my job. They were right.
3. “Relational” conversations
There are two types of conversations in any office. Critical conversations are strictly about the work. Then there are relational conversations. Completely unrelated to the work, these typically involve a sales leader getting to know their new rep and something the newbie is passionate about.
One of my top sales leaders used to find out what TV shows or movies her new reps liked the most, and would watch them or read a synopsis. She’d chat with her reps about the shows and fostered genuine friendships with her new team members. After these chats, the new reps would always outperform the previous week’s numbers—likely because of their enthusiasm about their new friend.
There are many ways you can “belt loop” new reps. All of them boil down to getting them to realize that you care about them both personally and professionally. Failing your friends is one of the worst feelings, and when reps aren’t hitting quota, if they feel like they are failing their friends as well as themselves, they will be that much more motivated. We have a saying in our office: an employee will always quit on a boss, but it takes a lot to quit on a friend.
Have you used the “belt loop theory,” even if you didn’t have a name for it? Share your strategies with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.