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Clydesdale Performance Management Inc. | Hamilton, ON | 905-963-1339
 

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Lisa Von Massow

Tom’s best customer, Meg, called and asked for a favor: “Can you talk to my new assistant Karen about getting up to speed with your software? She’s got a couple of questions that I don’t have time to answer.”

One of the distinguishing characteristics of top performers in sales is the ability to avoid two common, self-imposed mental handicaps: reachback and afterburn.

Jack, a salesperson, was having some challenges. Feedback from multiple sources -- his own clients, prospects, customers, and colleagues -- suggested that his communication skills needed some work.

If you lose a big sale, have a bad month, or don’t make quota, what is your typical first response?

For many salespeople, there is a temptation to externalize. Instead of looking inward for the reasons behind a given outcome, we assign responsibility to someone or something that lies outside of ourselves. 

Stan was frustrated. He kept getting “shot down on price” during discussions with prospective buyers. He knew he was supposed to talk directly about money issues before making a presentation . . . but somehow he never seemed to iron out the details in a way that gave him a clear sense of whether the buyer felt his pricing was acceptable.

Marina was having some problems with the opening phases of her sales process. Her early discussions with prospects were rarely productive. She sat down with Fred, her manager, and did some role-playing in the hope of improving her interviewing technique. During the role-play session, Fred shared a strategy Marina hadn't heard of. He called it “stripping line.”

Diane, a recent sales hire, got an email from her manager, Luis, suggesting that he accompany her on an initial sales call with a prospect – and then debrief with her on what he’d observed. Diane replied that she thought that was a great idea.

After the meeting with the prospect was over, Luis jotted down some notes. He shared them during his coaching meeting with Diane the next day.
“One of the things I noticed about your meeting with Francine,” Luis said, “was that you immediately answered her question about delivery-time windows. How did you feel about how that part of the discussion went?”

Eliza, a new sales hire, had posted an abysmally low closing ratio in her first 60 days on the job. She was spending most of her time with prospects who ended up picking her brain for advice and information . . . and then disappearing. Frank, her manager, asked her during a coaching session why she thought that was happening.

Ryan, a salesperson in his mid-fifties, had hit a performance plateau. His commissions had been flat for the past six months, and he had narrowly missed quota in each of those months. He scheduled a meeting with his manager, Jeannine, to see if, working together, they could identify any steps that would turn this pattern around.

During one of their coaching sessions, Jason asked his manager Ellen if she could think of one area he could work on over the next 30 days that would result in a dramatic and rapid improvement of his closing numbers. He was surprised at how quickly she answered.

Ellen suggested: “Learn to speak three more languages.”

Jason was confused. His expression said, What on earth do you mean?