You have a salesperson with loads of talent, and they have always been successful. Suddenly, they are underperforming, missing goals, and really off their game. Or, perhaps you have a new hire with a lot of talents. You are expecting a sales rock star, but they just aren’t doing well. What’s going on?! The answer may be hiding in past setbacks, and it takes sales management skill to help them start performing to their potential.
People who are high achievers, highly competitive, or have a strong ego stemming from being a great closer, need to win and need to close business to be happy and feel successful, but it goes deeper than that. What I find when I talk to sellers who are intensely focused on high achievement, competition or getting the close, is not that they have this talent and use it, but that they self-identify with these talents. They don’t LIKE to be a high achiever; they ARE a high achiever. It’s part of their personality. When you talk to them, it’s how they describe themselves. Great salespeople will tell you that selling is WHO they are, and it’s in their blood or their DNA. It’s not just a job, but a vocation, which is wonderful and helps them to be successful. The problem comes when something shakes that innate belief in themselves and they lose the confidence that drives them.
Usually, it’s not just one thing, but a series. If a high achiever loses one sale, they aren’t happy, but they can recover, re-focus on what will be their next win, and move on. But what if they lose several key accounts? This is a huge blow, not just to their wallet, but also to their ego. They may suddenly be filled with doubt. "Why is this happening, have I lost my edge, maybe I’m not good at sales anymore?" The loss of confidence can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, so as managers, it’s our job to help them out of this death spiral, and help them re-focus and regain confidence. How?
1. Assess and Identify
First, look at the talent assessment that you used to hire them. What talents do you see that can help them, and what talents or lack thereof can get in their way? If possible, schedule a feedback call with a Talent Analyst, or spend some time analyzing their pre-hire assessment, along with your interviewing notes, and try to identify which intense talents and/or weaknesses are tripping them up. Usually, hidden in their talents are the key to why they are struggling, and how to help them. Are they persuasive and a great closer, but perhaps not great at building relationships? If that’s the case, then you can help them focus on strengthening the relationship with their clients, finding ways to super-serve them, and paying attention not just to their client’s business needs, but also to their personal interests. We all have trouble saying no to a friend, so help them become friends with their clients.
If you see that they are fierce competitors, remember that highly competitive people love to win, but they hate to lose even more. They may be consumed by a loss. Help them to refocus by first letting them vent about their loss and get it off their chest. Then, help them to set their sights on their next win. Redirect their frustration with that loss into determination to get that next win and keep winning in the future.
3. Review Strengths
If your talented new hire is the one struggling, it’s possible that a previous blow to their confidence is getting in their way. This can be hard to combat, especially if you don’t know have details on what happened, but it is possible. Some steps to take include:
- Talk to them and try to discover what shook their confidence.
- Review their strengths with them and help them to see that they are talented at selling.
- Build their confidence with positive personal feedback and reminders of how well-suited they are to sell.
- Schedule time to discuss how they like to be coached, praised and rewarded and make sure you take great notes so that you can be sure that you are coaching them in a way best suits their needs.
- Moving forward, schedule regular times to discuss any issues they are having and offer help and coaching as well as lots of positive feedback.
When coaching salespeople, let them know that you are there for them and invested in their success!