As a sales leader have you ever stopped to ask yourself the following question; why do I want to hire the best talent available? The easy answer to this question is that we want to hire the most talented salespeople because naturally they will help us drive more sales, which is true, but I have been listening closely to sales leaders and many of them seem to have another motivating factor at play for wanting to hire top performers. What is that reason? Well, simply put they feel as though if they hire right talent they will not have to spend as much time coaching these individuals because they will be more self-directed and hopefully will already possess the necessary sales skills to be successful and productive. It seems to be a pretty harmless desire on the surface, wanting to hire sales people who need less coaching, but I would contend that it is a sales manager’s job to be a great coach, thus spending the preponderance of their time indulged in coaching related activities should be something they are embracing not shying away from. And if you don’t want to spend more time coaching the “A” players then why do you want to be a coach in the first place? Not only that, research has also proven that when effective coaching is given to an “A” talent versus a “C” talent – the time spent coaching the “A” talent will yield more results and performance toward the bottom line.
I can certainly understand why sales manager’s pine for more talent. In any business setting, just like in athletics, the more talented players you have the higher your performance ceiling increases. However, even the top tier talent desires effective coaching from their leadership. EcSELL Institute research shows that the two most motivating factors for sales people are their manager’s ability to 1) Coach and 2) Help them progress towards their career goals and objectives. So the thought process should not be let’s hire the top talent so we can spend less time coaching them – it should be the exact opposite. The thought process should be let’s hire the top talent available because that way our coaching efforts will drive even more performance and we will not spend exhausting hours trying to coach average talent and achieving only average results – thus giving us a jaded view on the pleasure of spending time in coaching related activities.
Recently I came across a quote about coaching from the University of Alabama’s Defensive Coordinator concerning one of the things he has learned from his coach, Nick Saban, who is currently leading one of the greatest college football dynasties of all time. Needless to say he knows a little bit about coaching and recruiting top tier talent to his organization. Kirby Smart had the following to say, "If I was to take one thing from Coach Saban, it's probably that the coaches don't coach enough "how to do it". They focus on WHAT to do all the time, and "how to do it" is a lot more technical. You know, how do you press a guy man to man? How do you play a ball in phase or out of phase? How do you tackle a guy? So many kids today they don't know that, they don't get taught that. They just get told "tackle better" "catch the ball" you know... "Make the tackle". Now while these football terms may seem like a foreign language to a few of you sales leaders so let’s change the verbiage. Have you ever caught yourself or heard other sales manager’s saying things like “fill up your pipeline” “why are you not making more sales” or “you need to be more aggressive when you close”. Sound familiar?
The point is this: whether you are a coach of the best college football program in the Country or you are the coach of the best sales team in the Country you are going to have to do a couple of important things. You are going to have to recruit the best talent and then you are going to have to coach the heck out of that talent. If you desire to hire the top talent so that you won’t have to coach as much you only have half of the equation and thus you will only achieve a portion of that talent’s actual capability. And without coaching your top sales talent and helping progress towards their goals I can promise you they won’t be around for long even if you are fortunate enough to bring them on-board.