Yes, maybe some sales skills come natural to some people, but for the most part, most of it can be learned. This is great news, and it’s important to stress this with the sales professional you are managing or coaching because he may get frustrated as he works through the basics and becomes convinced he doesn’t have what it takes. One of your main roles as a coach is to realistically motivate – sharing the hard truth and the hopeful truth, so that you paint a real, but positive perspective for them.
This leads me to suggest that after exploring a client’s time-management abilities (which is the topic of another article), the next thing you should explore with your sales professional client is his/her perspectives on responsibility and accountability. Young or old, expert or amateur, there are a lot of individuals that blame their lack of success on something their leader is lacking.
I’ll illustrate this point with a story. Let’s say you’re car shopping. You don’t quite know what you want, but you venture into a dealership. In this example, the car dealer is your leader. You are the consumer. Despite not knowing what you want, you could still do some online research, ask a few friends, consult your spouse and family, and just take a look around to see what catches your eye. But instead, you don’t do any of that. You go straight to the dealership, and buy the first thing the dealer recommends. A week later, you see a report on the news that puts this particular model at the bottom of the list; supposedly after one year, everything starts to go down the tubes. You discover that the car manufacturer is covered from any liability because your warranty covers things that apparently don’t really matter. As your stomach drops, you think, “I should have read the fine print.” So, just a few days after purchasing a new car, you are counting down the days until it breaks down. You are beyond livid with the car dealer, and you start to blame it all on her.
Back to the point… should she have recommended that car? Probably not. Did she make you buy the car? No. Were there other options that you could have explored to make a better decision? Absolutely. This is exactly how it works in the workplace. Leaders aren’t perfect (FYI: neither are you), they are going to do things, suggest things, and say things that are sometimes, so wrong. That doesn’t mean you can sign them up to be your easy out. It simply means you need to rely more on yourself for the success you want.
Ask yourself… does my client blame their lack of results on their leader’s deficiencies? Do your best to find the answer to this question. Stress the importance of the value in taking responsibility for one’s actions. Let your clients know that if they can’t take responsibility for where they’re missing the mark, they can’t expect to claim the rights to anything that happens to go well. They can’t claim their good work if they won’t recognize their less-than-perfect performances.