“How to Coach a Salesperson You Do Not Trust!”
Have you ever employed someone with character faults? Of course you have because no one’s perfect. Right? But what do you do when you make a mistake and hire someone who is dishonest, lazy, irresponsible or selfish as a sales rep? What do you do when you absorb the financial impact of their actions? That depends.
Think of your coaching as occurring on a playing field of your favorite sport. Just like in the game, what you will coach and how many times you will coach it will depend on two things. It will depend on the severity of the infraction and on whether the “rule-bending” occurs on-the-field or off-the-field.
If a sales rep does something that is off-the-field, you will fire them at once. If it’s on-the-field, you will make a decision to mentor or coach them “x” number of times dependent on the severity and nature of the offense.
Examples of off-the-field offenses include:
- Signing a customer’s signature to a document
- Stealing from the company, a co-worker or a customer
- Lying to a customer or to you
- Using narcotics or alcohol on the job
- Losing, mishandling or destroying company assets (money, equipment, etc.)
Look at this list to get you started and then, for your company and sales force, determine the fireable offenses and the nonnegotiable character traits and behaviors for salespeople and sales leaders. When someone crosses the line and commits one of these offenses, fire them.
Protect your culture, brand and reputation and protect your customers and employees.
However, not all offenses are egregious enough to warrant taking away someone’s employment. Athletes and people are imperfect. Over time and for various reasons, performance varies and attitudes change. Sporting managers and sales leaders coach and mentor those on their teams to consistent goal achievement.
While on a sales force, there are many types of attitudes and behaviors on which we choose to spend time helping others improve. A few of these on-the-field behaviors and attitudes to coach are:
- Not doing sales related activities while at work
- Being late to work or to customer appointments
- Turning in deficient paperwork
- Low sales performance attributes:
- No lead generation or prospecting for appointments
- Low appointment rates
- Not following a sales process; including not listening, no sales presentation customization, not appropriately handling customer concerns or questions,
- not asking people to make decisions, etc.
- Other behaviors associated with low closing rates
- Selling the price not the value, and having low sales margins
- No customer follow-up
Depending upon your view of what constitutes on-the-field and off-the-field, both of your lists will adjust themselves to what you believe is reasonable for their health and the company’s well-being. When you have done this, decide the necessary penalties (time off, etc.) and number of times you will coach a particular attitude or behavior. Remember to train people for specific skills and mentor them to change attitudes or lift their ambitions.
Begin the coaching process with a period of discovery by researching for important facts and numbers and by asking the rep questions. Get to know them. Find out if something has happened in their life that affects their motivation and drive. Decide if the coaching or mentoring solution requires skills training or an attitude adjustment or both. Invest the one-on-one time and training you believe to be appropriate. A great coaching system always begins with a set of standards and then continues with getting to know the individual and their thoughts before implementing a solution.