Put me in coach!

A lot of people in Sales will tell you that your coaching dollars and efforts should only be spent on the top performers. I happen to agree. Sounds harsh? Well, it is. See, I firmly believe in the old adage that people are either born for sales or they’re not. Most people new to the game will fail within the first year. Are those the people you want to spend your time and money on? This may be a little over-the-top, but I like to use the battle analogy; everyone goes into battle green and inexperienced. The weak and slow ones get taken out first. But the ones who find a way to make it through are the ones who are worth investing resources in. Are you with me yet?
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not talking about training. All new employees should receive basic training so they can understand what they’re selling, the demographics, the typical sales cycle, the delivery cycle, the image the company wants to portray, and their target market. But beyond all that, it’s really a matter of letting the newbies get through their first year. Of course they will require guidance and feedback, so this is your opportunity to observe. After a fair amount of time (fair being relative to your industry…) you will know who needs to be weeded. Now the coaching can begin. Coaching is going to turn your strong earners into gigantic earners.

Now the question is; does the Sales Manager have the skills and experience within the industry to provide that coaching? If so, it’s about scheduling time (yes, actually schedule it, or it will never happen) with each of your top performers. Ask what’s been tough lately. Ask about clients they’re spending too much time with and give them ideas and trigger points on how to either close or take a walk. Expand their realm by providing introductions and connections to clients or peers that are just slightly over their head. If the Sales Manager is new to the company, or new to the industry, they may have to go looking for beneficial coaches within the ranks, but the responsibility for putting something together still rests with the Manager. If you still firmly believe that coaching is something a Manager is obligated to provide to everyone, then something that I’ve seen work well is having the top earners work as a team of mentors to the juniors. It provides public acknowledgement for the top performers that they’ve been asked to take this role, it gives the juniors an image of how it should be done, it forces the mentors to share and coordinate the message they’re delivering. My favorite reason is that it encourages the seasoned mentors to go through the entire sales process, without the ‘shortcuts’ they’ve invariably honed in their tenure. Coaching. Try it.