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4 Strategies For Coaching The Un-Coachable Salesperson

By Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

As a company that offers transformation to companies and not “just” sales transformation we understand well the issues around change management.

If you are a regular reader (or not) we focus totally on social media and helping organisations from the C-Level downwards and right across a companies different departments; sales, procurement, supply chain etc.  How to use social media to change your brand and as a competitive advantage. In many, if not all cases we see incremental sales increases of 20 to 30 percent.

That all sounds amazing doesn’t it, in fact I think you would be surprised if I didn’t say something amazing, but this is all about change and we often find there are blockers in organisations.

Recent objections sales people have said to me:-

  1. All the people in my account are over 40 and they don’t use social media
  2. You have to understand, Winnipeg is different from the rest of the world, it’s not very IT literate
  3. YOU don’t understand, you “marketing types” talk to each other, it’s what you do, we don’t do that in IT, which is why there are no IT people on social media
  4. We tried this before and it didn’t work

I’m not going to take each one of those and explain, why they are false, I must admit the comment that there was nobody under 40 in a department is outstandingly funny. The fact of the matter, is, this is real life, people are saying this so how do we break through this and move the company in to the 21st Century?

  1. Appeal to the Sales Person’s Personality Type – This is about change and you have to understand that for some people, they don’t want to change. They have after all being do the same thing for years and it used to work so why not carry on? People have different personalities, a Finance Director, a Sales Director and a Human Resources Director are all very different people. For example Finance Directors like facts and don’t like diagrams, which is why you shouldn’t sell Accountancy systems with Infographics. Whereas Sales Leaders are more visual and you should certainly use diagrams with them. It’s interesting that a number of the social selling organisations I see, tend to use techniques they should be using to sell to Finance Directors to sell to Sales Leaders. Sales people want metaphors, diagrams and stories, not to be beaten over the head with facts.
  2. Webinars Don’t Work – I know it’s easy and cheap to run webinars but they don’t change anything. Why? Because the people that don’t want to change will not listen. They will be working through their email while you work hard giving your webinar or something else to distract them. The only way to change dysfunction in a team is to confront it, which is why we do all our training face-to-face. Probably why we seem to get called in to “sort out” social selling programs that have been delivered via webinar and haven’t “moved the needle”.
  3. Ask Questions – In the case of the sales person why made the sweeping statement that there we nobody in his accounts under the age of 40 and they are not on social media, which is a “Stepford Wives” kind of scenario. The Marketing Director for that company stepped in and starting asking questions. “Are you really saying that there is nobody under 40?”, “Are you assuming they are not on social media or do you really know?” and take people down a “decision tree”. The sales person admitted he didn’t actually know and the the comments were his assumption, based on his own world view rather than facts.
  4. Are You Coaching Them In or are You Coaching Them Out – In Social Selling change programs we see a typical “bell curve”. 20% of people are “Ninjas”, 60% of the people will do it, they just need coaching and mentoring and 20% of the people just won’t get it.  It’s a classic leadership situation which we all face as business leaders on a day to day basis.  Where do we spend our efforts, with the top, bottom or middle portion?  It is down to your organisation to decide, I’ve seen some organisations fire the bottom 20%, I’ve seen some organisations run a “no employee left behind” program, it’s usually governed by the organisational cultre.

In Patrick Lenciono’s “Five Dysfunctions of a Team” he discusses them as follows:-

  1. Inattention to results
  2. Avoidance of Accountability
  3. Lack of commitment
  4. Fear of conflict
  5. Absence of trust

Social Selling is like any change program you as a leader need to make sure the culture, measures and framework is in place.  Or, of course, you can use social selling at the catalyst to create a new sales or company culture for the digital world. If you would like to discover more about social selling for your business have a look here.

We hope that you enjoyed this article…if you did, you might like this one about the sales person’s personal brand.

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