Below is a framework you should follow that will provide you with 5 forms of “currency” to inspire the best performers on your sales force.
1. Prioritize—Honor your days with them. Never cancel. There is nothing more important. If you cancel, reschedule. Without the ‘A’ players you have nothing. Tip: ask your boss to work with your ‘A’ players once per quarter. “Step level” coaching is a best practice of world class Talent Management programs. This does three things:
- Shows your ‘A’ player their value is recognized at higher levels
- Will allow your boss to give you feedback and direction on how to get the most out of the ‘A’ player
- Motivate others on the team; sales people are competitive and if you have the right team, they will want this additional developmental time.
2. Preparation—Do not show up to work with an ‘A’ player on your sales force without planning how you are going to add value. You have one goal every time you work with an ‘A’ player in the field—make them better. Some sales managers we study are intimidated by their ‘A’ players; as a result they leave them alone. This is incorrect. Raise your game. You are the coach. Tip: send them the agenda of things you want to review at least 48 hours in advance. This demonstrates your respect for their time and you can bet it will be reciprocated. This is an example of on purpose coaching.
3. Customize—assuming you have prepared, do not give them boiler plate sales coaching. Great sales leaders view the sales process like a college curriculum; you have some students in 101 and some in 401. Tip: research the specific area of the sales process they may be struggling with and send them a thought provoking article or tip prior to and how you would like to see them incorporate. Or give them a specific call where you saw them execute some 400 level skills and how you would like them to build on that.
4. Disrupt—“as soon as you stop improving, you stop being good”. How do you ensure your ‘A’ players don’t stagnate? Respectfully disrupt their paradigm. Nudge them, prod them. If you have created an ‘A’ player culture, your team will come to expect this from you. Tip: ask your ‘A’ players the last new thing they have learned from you and how they utilized it. New capability acquisition is the leading indicator of future income. If they don’t have a top of mind answer, you have a problem.
5. Blur the Lines—this is a personal hot button for me. I have always worked best for those bosses who take an interest in my life, not just my work life. We all have vulnerabilities; dreams that we have yet to realize. Help your ‘A’ players achieve in all aspects of life. Tip: help them accomplish a personal goal. Maybe they have a fitness goal—hire them a trainer. Perhaps they are passionate about a charity; find out why and donate some time towards it. Perhaps they have a financial goal; help them get on track with their wealth building. If you don’t know any of these answers, you have your agenda for your next interaction.
Call To Action—Executing the 5 steps above puts an inordinate amount of pressure on you as the leader to add value at work and away from work. If you keep your relationship focused only on work, you will lose your top performers. Why? Because you have allowed the relationship to be transactional—sales effort = commission dollars. Money is a commodity. ‘A’ players know they can make money. They, like all people, seek fulfillment. Make no mistake, if an ‘A’ player leaves, it has everything to do with you. The list above are five forms of currency you can use in your ongoing sales training efforts to develop your best.