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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Sales Management Secrets (Part 4): Coaching the Talent of a Problem Solver

talent developmentBet you love the Sherlock Holmes you have on your sales team. He’s analytical, hyper-focused on solving the puzzle, enjoys research, and always knows where to find the answers!  

His mind is a hungry sponge, soaking up every bit of information and storing it deep inside so it’s always right there when he needs it. Or, when someone else needs his help! That makes him the ideal advice-giver for others – that and the fact that he views situations completely differently than most.

It’s almost like he’s looking at the world through an entirely different lens. He picks up on things to which others are blind, and he can assemble a bunch of seemingly random pieces of evidence into a meaningful vision. Now that’s talent! We call it the Problem Solver talent.

The best thing about the salesperson chock-full of Problem Solver is not even that he is so good at solving problems. It’s really that he is good at finding problems! He’s a top-notch detective able to uncover the needs of clients that others missed and match those needs with a creative, customized solution. One-size-fits-all package seller?  Never!

So how do you coach this super sleuth

and keep him engaged and moving forward?

Here are a few ideas that may help:

Include him in brainstorming sessions often. Creative thinking will strengthen his talent, keep him sharp, and make him feel juiced! Plus, he’ll probably have some good stuff to contribute. 

Encourage him to go in with an open mind. While he will naturally prepare himself by boning up on the industry, the company’s website, the product or service, and the individual with whom he is meeting, you may need to remind him not to assume he already knows the answers.

Make sure he doesn’t overwhelm the client with a pile of possibilities. He will see a wide variety of options and viable solutions which can often become confusing. Help him to narrow down all of his ideas and determine which one or two he might develop further.

Don’t let him call it a day after unveiling his genius idea. Hold him accountable to always asking for the next step.

Remind him to slow down and check-in to ensure that the client is on the same page, since his mind moves faster than many.  

Let him show off his expertise and shine in front of others.  Ask him to present at a sales meeting or contribute to your company blog.  He will take pride in the respect he will earn from others.

Don’t take his grilling personally. He may pepper you with questions and always want to know WHY you made the decision you made. No reputable detective would be able to help himself.

Recognize that he may get bored more easily than some. Change up his account list, encourage him to come up with new products to sell or new ways to sell them, and constantly be thinking of valuable training opportunities so he is always on the cutting edge.

Fight off “analysis paralysis” when he gets stuck. If his Problem Solver talent is cranked-up to the max it might be hard for him to dial it back – even if he wants to. Help him to outline next steps or commit to deadlines and due dates.   

With these tips in mind, be cautious about characterizing this guy based on one single talent.  Your Sales Sherlock is much more than a good detective. He is a unique cocktail of talent and will need to be coached based on a clear understanding of all of his strengths and weaknesses

Once you have that complete understanding of his talents, 

consider making a list of three things you should always do and three things

you should never do when managing him.


This is the fourth 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

Part Two - Discipline 

Learn about the seller who is buttoned up, loves perfection, but can spend too much time organizing and preparing

Part Three - Command

Learn about and how to help the seller who is always taking charge and a natural closer



Want to learn more about coaching your team?  Click here!



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

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Topics: developing strengths Sales