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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Talent?

can you have too much sales talentDuring a recent feedback session, I had a new hire ask what was potentially the most insightful question I have ever heard on one of these calls. She asked me if her intense talents, of which she had several, could get in her way. I was highly impressed with her insight because, yes, very strong talents can sometimes trip up a salesperson. When I mentioned a few possible obstacles, she agreed with each and said that she had in fact faced all of those. We then brainstormed how she could work with those talents but limit how they slowed her down. This conversation got me thinking...  Is there such a thing as too much talent?

There is No Such Thing as Too Much Sales Talent

First, let me put your mind at ease. You can’t have a salesperson who is too talented at sales. But, what you can have, is a salesperson who lets their intense talents override other talents. Here's a few examples. Any of these sound familiar?

  • Have you ever had an AE who had amazing problem solving abilities? There wasn’t a problem they couldn’t think their way out of. BUT... They were always looking for that next best solution. There was always a better solution out there, and they would spend hours chasing something better, when they already had good, solid solutions worked out. I have often heard this called "paralysis by analysis." These people have a healthy work ethic, but they let their intense problem solver slow them down.

  • Or, what about that seller who has strong talent at closing the sale? They are confident, self-assured, a leader, and have a very healthy ego. BUT... They resist coaching. Their way is always better, and it's really tough to get them to try a new approach (even though they are a great learner and they should love to try new ways). Their talents for influence and ego tend to overcome their thought-process talents.

So, what do you do?

What to do When a Sales Talent Gets in the Way of Success

  1. Look at your AE's talent assessment, find those intense talents, and then think about their behavior. Do you see that strong talent working for them as an asset, or do you see it getting in their way?

  2. Write down a few times when you've seen them use that talent to their advantage. Remember, you want to highlight how they can use this talent to be successful and encourage that behavior. 

  3. Now, think about the times that talent has tripped them up. What are some work-arounds you can encourage them to use to limit places where this talent gets in their way?
    • Analysis paralysis? How about having them set a timer for how much brainstorming time they allow?
    • Doesn’t like to be coached or told what to do? Think Jeopardy and put your coaching in the form of a question. I have found a lot of success with this practice. Show them the benefits of a new initiative, and then ask them to be the leader with the group and help others get on board.

  4. Most people instinctively know what they are really good at. And they also know what can get in their way. Now, it's their turn to do a little brainstorming. Ask them what they feel their top talents are and how they see these talents working for them, as well as how they get in their way. If they come up with a work-around, you will already have their buy-in on the idea, which will start them on the path to success.

Your intensely-talented salespeople can be a challenge to coach at times, but those same intense talents can make them incredibly successful! Get them involved in this process, and watch them thrive as they improve sales performance by making the best use of their sales talent.

Talent is only a strength when the fit is right.