Sales Coaching Blog

Which sales rep should get your attention-top or bottom?

Posted by Kristi Shoemaker

January 6, 2011

Our Pillar Partner Caliper Corp has just kicked off their new blog called "The Competitive Edge".  It provides insight and strategies on hiring and developing top team talent. Caliper was one of EcSELL Institute's instructors at our fall 2010 Sales Leadership and Sales Coaching Summit. (Check out our Spring Sales Coaching Summit)

Following is a post from "The Competitive Edge"

Who Gets More of Your Attention? Your Top Performers or Poor Performers?

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to get trapped into spending your day dealing with problems often caused by less-than-effective employees?

None of us plan our days that way.

It’s not like we’re driving to work thinking, “I know what I’ll do, I’ll get in, grab a cup of coffee and spend my day solving one problem after another and never get to the things I really want to do.”

But how often does that happen?

And if you’re spending too much time with poor performers— or trying to resolve problems caused by underachieving employees — you’re probably not focused on the future, on what your company can become.  And you’re not investing your time in the people who can make a difference.

As leaders, one of our most important challenges this year is to make sure that our top performers – and those who have the potential to be top performers – know how extremely important they are to us. We need to recognize them, and keep them engaged, motivated and enthused about their future with us.

After all, our top talent is ultimately what distinguishes us. Everything else is just products, boxes and warehouses. Everything else can be copied by any of our competitors.

So, here are two quick strategies for keeping your top performers motivated:

First, DO NOT surround your best performers with your less-than-effective employees in the hope that they will inspire and raise the level of performance of everyone else around them.

This is the opposite of what top performers are looking for. They do not want to be working side-by-side with someone who will fumble their pass or not complete their part of an important project on time. Top performers want to be connected with other top performers. They want to know they are making a difference – and that you value them. They are driven to be part of a winning team.

Second, spend most of your time with your top performers, not your poor performers.

Essentially, as managers we have to ask ourselves, “If I’m spending most of my time with poor performers, what’s the best I can hope for? To bring my worst employees up to being barely average, at best?” Spend time helping people who have the potential and desire to be top performers. Your attention will keep them engaged, knowing they’re valued. And they’ll be much less likely to start looking for greener pastures.

One of our clients, John Beattie, the Senior Vice President of Human Resources for GMAC Insurance, told an incredibly revealing story about how he learned this important lesson.

He said that one day he got a call from one of his best performers who told him she was quitting.  He was stunned and asked why.

She said, “John, I’m out here alone. I can’t get any of your time. This just doesn’t work for me anymore.”

There was a half hour between the phone call and the time she got to his office. During that time, John said he did a lot of soul searching.

When she arrived, he was obviously shook up. He said to her that he understood what she was saying. Then he sincerely apologized. And asked if she would stick in for another month and give him a chance to turn the situation around.

Fortunately, she did.

He said that was his wake-up call. And now he spends much more time with his top performers…and much less time with his poor performers.

Take John’s advice.

When you spend less time with your poor performers and more time with your best you also send a strong message to your entire organization about what’s important to you.

Equally important, your time will be spent wisely. You’ll feel a lot more energized and enthused about what you’re doing — and as you get to know your top performers even better, you’ll recognize the qualities that distinguish them and make them so special.

And you’ll have a much clearer understanding of what to look for when it’s time to hire your next top performer.

Herb Greenberg and Patrick Sweeney

Written by Herb Greenberg (left) Founder & CEO, and Patrick Sweeney, President of Caliper

Understand the science, strategy, and execution behind mastering your role as an extraordinary sales team coach at EcSELL Institute's Sales Coaching Summit, April 7-8 in Scottsdale AZ.

Sales coaching summit for executive sales managers

Topics: talent identification & acquistion, EcSELL Institute Partner, sales coaching, sales rep peformance, ideas for sales leaders

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