Visualize the person on your sales team with the most relationship talent. Can you picture her? Your social butterfly? She cares deeply about other people. She knows all her clients like personal friends and can easily recite the names of their kids. She brings clients their favorite coffee “just because” and gets the order right every time. She genuinely wants to know these things and prides herself on it. She is good at building instant connections with prospects as well as creating long term meaningful relationships with clients. She spends time at the water cooler and knows her teammates. Everyone loves her.
Now, take a moment and picture the opposite. Visualize the sort of lone ranger salesperson. Do you see him? He is on a bit more of a solo mission. He does not “sense” how others are feeling and even if he thought he did he might be wrong. This seller does not run on emotions,. He runs on data, facts, and numbers. Ask him the names of his clients’ kids or how the client likes their coffee and you may be met with a blank stare. He doesn’t know and probably doesn’t really care! I don’t mean that he is a bad person or hates people—he just doesn’t feel the need to know the names of all their kids or whether they take cream and sugar in their java. He doesn’t care what you watched on TV last night, so it would never occur to him to ask. Does he work hard for his clients? Absolutely! Do they always feel like he cares about them and understands them as people, not merely as clients? Maybe not.
We know top-performing salespeople are great at building rapport and lasting relationships. They have the “sixth” sense for knowing how someone is feeling; they genuinely care about people and it shows. We also know that when relationship talent is lacking, it can cause problems with customers and reduce retention rates. When clients don’t feel personally cared for, they don’t confide as much and trust is tenuous.
So how do you teach someone to be caring? You can’t.
You can’t teach caring. It’s innate. We cannot send salespeople to a seminar to make them more caring (or less caring!). Our level of caring for others is hardwired in us. However, you can coach your hardworking seller who struggles to connect with people.
How can you help this seller?
- Help him warm up his cold calls. Encourage him to seek introductions to make it more comfortable. Have him prepare a personal marketing resume that highlights his expertise and what is it like to do business with him.
- Get a sense of which clients and categories he is most comfortable with and have him branch out from there, seeking referrals along the way.
- Make sure he is conducting ongoing needs analysis to ensure his plans are working and the client’s needs haven’t changed.
- Have him take note of things that are meaningful to the client and store them for future reference. He doesn’t have to remember that your top client loves a tall caramel macchiato with an extra shot of espresso—but he needs to remember to write it down.
- Encourage him to ask questions like, “How do you feel?” or “Are we on the same page?”
- When in the field with him, notice the client’s reaction, then talk about it after the meeting. See if he noticed the things you saw during the call.
- Don’t let him make generalizations about clients or people. Encourage him to appreciate that each client is special and different. Help him come up with specific actions for specific clients.
You cannot turn your lone ranger into a social butterfly, nor should you try. Any attempt to “fix” someone leads to frustration and annoyance on both sides! However, as the coach, you can absolutely help him establish practices that will position him as a solid business partner. You can discuss strategies and tactics that will increase his customer satisfaction and retention rate, and you can help him plan ways to wow his clients. At the end of the day, that is what it is really all about. How you get there doesn’t matter.