A lot of courage is required to confront and remould an already successful employee. This is precisely why coaching top performers often turns out to be a fairly cumbersome task. While I say this, it deserves a mention that fruitful coaching can only add to their already overwhelming bags of clients. Turning them from top sales performers to uber performers!
Top performers need to be coached differently
Many sales organisations have no choice but to embrace the economic realities of the present business models; those guided by short-term financial success. It is here that the role of the top performers become ever so clinical and in becoming so, it has made the need for “high-performers’ coaching” a prerequisite.
In the light of these facts, let us try and enrich the article by discussing a few techniques to effectively coach top sales performers.
Their fast-thinking mind should be an asset, not otherwise
I have seen a few prodigal sales people and many really capable ones in my career. One thing common to them and what essentially segregates them from others is their fast-thinking mind. This can however be akin to a double-edged sword. It is not difficult to understand how a fast thinking mind can increase your analytical skills, decision-making prowess, and the quality to get one better on the problem. This said, a fast-thinking mind also makes such sales reps susceptible to poor communication — and we know what the fallout can be in the sales industry.
To explain, top sales performers, who in a majority of cases think very fast, assume that the prospects on the other side are also as fast and will easily process all the information that is literally shoved down their throat. They make the cardinal mistake of believing that all that they are dishing out is just as quickly being lapped. Sadly, this is not the case and a lot of the theorising and the information-passing bit fall in the warp area. So the situation is like this: your top performers think they have clinched the deal but the prospects on the other end do not get most of the information discussed, and the sales deal may not go through or come back to bite you at a later date when the client feels their needs have not been met!
You may ask, if this is the case, then how on earth are they top sales performers? Easy! These guys have got some real skills and they know a thousand ways of converting a sale. It is not that all those sales come back. My point is that in coaching top performers we can weed out this “miscommunication due to fast thinking” gaffe, and even those prospects falling in this category will be happy clients only adding to what I referred to as their already “overwhelming bag of clients”.
Tips to consider:
- Determine who is doing most of the talking, the seller or the buyer? If the buyer is doing most of the talking that is a good sign the seller is asking open ended questions where the seller is gaining insights and steering the conversation.
- Seller preparing insights that add value to buyer job role and industry. Buyers want to be educated and not sold too. Buyers want to come to their own conclusions.
- In major sales where a number of meetings take place, sales reps need to confirm the key meeting takeaways, reconfirm you have heard the buyer’s needs correctly and summaries the benefits covered by solving the buyer’s needs.
Catalyse their thinking, not behaviour
Coaches should have a stern grip on the fact that there may be a few weaknesses in such high performing sales reps, and only because such weaknesses exist can they have the kind of strengths that they do. For instance, top performers often lack team-spirit. Yes, it can be a weakness, but they lack this spirit because in their mind they are devoted to winning and spending more time with clients and prospects rather than spending time internally focused which is also why that admin / CRM updates can fall behind Sales Managers expectations.
You cannot change the behaviour pattern of these reps but what you can do is catalyse the thought processes that result in such behaviour patterns. Get into their gut; subtly turn it inside out, you will find a dozen triggers. Coaching will allow these triggers to be channelled in the right direction and turn sales performers into even better performers.
Inspire them to achieve more
In all likelihood, these are the kind of reps who are ever aspiring for greater numbers and laurels. If you can help them churn more, they will be inspired to give you all they have. Yes, even they will have their slump month. It is important to make them believe that it is what makes them human. Till that belief is not lost, they will come back with a bang in the next month and this is why coaches have to be sure of what they are doing with the top performers. You don’t want them being siphoned off by always-ready head-hunters before you know!