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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Sales Management Secrets (Part 2): Coaching the Talent of Discipline

Secrets to Coaching 2 of 8Most managers agree that it is a true pleasure to manage salespeople who have strong Discipline because they don’t need to babysit them, check up on them, or clean up their messes.  A seller with this innate talent is buttoned-up and organized — and best of all, they have a system for everything which means they tend to have terrific follow-thru.  They also manage their time well, so they are never late and they are able to fill their free moments with productive work to ensure that everything gets done.  

Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? Yes. 

But sometimes perfect can be a problem in sales! 

While we want our salespeople to be on top of things, we can’t afford to have them repeatedly fail to pull the trigger because it’s not perfect yet.  Discipline is no different than any other talent — at maximum intensity it can become nearly impossible to dial back, and it probably feels more like a weakness than strength.  Cranked-up to the max, Discipline morphs into perfectionism which can paralyze a salesperson.  It can cause him to spend an inordinate amount of time organizing and preparing proposals while leaving him with little time left to present his ideas.  

The intensity of a talent is not the only thing that will determine an individual’s behavior. How that talent plays with all of their other talents is equally as significant, determining the ultimate performance of the individual, and the coaching strategies that will prove most effective.  

The bottom line is that all salespeople with strong Discipline

should not be treated exactly the same.


Here are a few ideas to choose from that should help:

Give lots of leeway to create the systems and processes that work best for him.  He will know how he works best, so let him work that way!  Don’t require him to use a specific tracker or note-taking tool if he has a system that would be more effective for him.

Don’t surprise him!  If you want him to present a segment in your sales meeting, give a heads-up well in advance.  He is going to want their presentation to be spot-on and will value being given the time needed to do that.  As a general rule of thumb, he will be at his best when he feels over-prepared.

Recognize how important it is for this seller to have a great sense of control over his environment.  Allow him to give input on everything from the location of his desk to the day of his weekly sales meeting.

If perfectionism is getting in his way, tell him, “your 90% is better than most people’s 100% and I don’t want perfection.”  Encourage him to take risks, praise learning, and have him commit to a deadline which will drive him to push thru his reluctance.  

Match him with complex accounts that have many moving parts and require a higher level of attention.  He will be able to keep everything moving without letting anything fall through the cracks.

Know that he will crave details so don’t hold back.  Share as much information with him as possible and give him time to think through the details and ask you questions. 
Encourage him, when working with a team, to play the role of keeping everyone on track.  He could build the agenda, prepare the critical path, and organize the follow up.

Make sure you show up to meetings with him on time and prepared.

Recognize high-quality work and refer to it as an example for others.

When coaching a salesperson, consider both their strengths and their weaknesses. Consider making a list of three things you should always do when managing that seller and three things you should never do when managing that seller.  

Most importantly, remember that their talents won’t change

– so your coaching has to.


This is the second in an 8-part talent development series!

Part One — Work Intensity  

Learn about that seller who loves to work, moves at high speed, and crams more in her day than anyone else


Continue to improve your sales and sales management skills while driving!




Beth Sunshine is VP/Talent Services for the Center for Sales Strategy

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Topics: developing strengths Sales