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By Stephen Abrahms April 12, 2018

3 Things Sales Leaders Get Wrong When Coaching Sales Reps

Cliff is not your top sales performer. A “C” player at best, Cliff rarely makes his quota. And he never tries to improve. Cliff seems perfectly happy with the status quo, which bothers you as a sales leader whose younger years were spent as a hungry sales rep, always innovating your approach and working hard to exceed your own number. To top it all off, if Cliff could just up his numbers by 10%, it would help your branch move to second place in your company.

A typical conversation with Cliff goes something like this:  

You: “Hey Cliff, how many deals have you closed this month?”

Cliff: “Not a lot, but I’m sure things will pick up next week. Just have to be patient.”

You: “Jessica has already met her number this month, and she’s on track to blow even last month’s performance. She’s going to help us overtake the Buffalo branch”

Cliff: “Wow, good for Jessica…”

1. Sales Coaching Isn’t About You

Cliff’s lack of direction or passion is understandably frustrating. He doesn’t seem to see, or care, that your branch’s success rides on his shoulders. How are you going to motivate him to increase his performance and contribute to your branch’s rise to the top?

Here’s the thing: the issue isn’t with Cliff. It’s with your mindset. According to Keith Rosen, the most effective sales coaching requires managers to ditch their personal agenda and abstain from comparison judgement.

It is crucial that sales coaching focuses on collaboration to improve sales rep performance and its impact on their livelihood. If you coach someone with an internal focus on your own goals (versus theirs), you’ll come across selfish and demanding. This will cause the recipient to feel unimportant, blocking their ability to actively listen to your suggestions, and hinder their creativity and motivation. Instead, focus on what is best for them.

2. Everyone is Motivated By Different Things

Most of the time, increased performance has a positive impact on the sales rep’s life, both personally and professionally. However, not everyone is motivated by the same things. Take the time to connect with your underperforming rep and figure out what’s important to him or her and what their personal goals are. Use these goals next time you’re trying to motivate more effort.

The good news is that once they experience the benefits of hitting their number, they will become more open to collaborating to achieve future goals. At the same time, it’s also important to keep an open mind to whether their strengths and interests are better served somewhere else in your organization.

3. Comparing Sales Reps Does More Harm Than Good

It is equally essential that coaching be done without constant comparison. When you compare one rep’s performance to others (or your own), you show a lack of understanding or care for them as an individual. Everyone has different skillsets, goals, and challenges. Comparing individuals’ performance ignores this fact. The only comparison worth making is a rep’s current performance versus their potential; that way you can work together to get them where they could be.

Adopting this mindset is difficult but is a vital step to successful sales coaching. If you’re interested in guidance on other steps to become an outstanding sales leader and coach to your team, schedule a complimentary consultation with our experts.

Topics: Sales Coaching, Sales Leadership: C-Level & VPs

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