Think back to your time of being a sales rep. At what aspects of the selling process did you really excel? Was it figuring out a customer’s needs? Was it knowing when to push or when to back off? Perhaps it was your tenacious and consistent follow-up with prospects? Every successful rep has different aspects of the selling process at which they are best and for most people, the areas where they excel came naturally to them.
The great thing about be a natural at something is that it’s easy for you. But the downside is that it’s often hard to explain what it is you do that makes you so effective. Consider again what you did naturally well as a rep. If somebody asked you to explain why you were so good at that particular aspect of selling, could you detail out step-by-step what made you effective? If you’re like most people, you’d would probably say, “I don’t know, it’s just how I do it.”
Being a natural at something means that it’s instinctual. You don’t have to think about it or come up with a step-by-step plan to ensure you work that way. It’s simply who you are, so you just do it that way. While being a natural is certainly valuable when you are selling, it can easily become a hindrance when you are trying to teach others how to do it. When you don’t have to think about how to do something, it’s more difficult for you to break down the steps to execution. In this way, there’s an important kernel of truth in the idea that “those that can do, can’t teach” and it’s important to acknowledge that your selling strengths may be your coaching weaknesses.
To assess whether your strengths as a rep are really your weaknesses in coaching your own reps, first identify the areas where you excelled as a salesperson. Now, consider your approach to helping your own reps improve in these same areas. Do you often tell them to just do what you do and mirror your approach? Do you make it sound like this is something they should be able to do without much planning? Do you ever find yourself saying to them, “if I can do it, it’s easy?” If your answers to these questions are “yes,” then you are not effectively teaching them these skills.
In order to rectify the problem, consider tapping an individual on your team who has struggled with building their skills in this sales area to create a step-by-step approach to teach this skill to others. When people had to work hard to learn a skill, they often have created a structure to help them execute that skill effectively. They also know what they had to learn or experiences they had to go through in order to sharpen that skill. Finally if it’s not a natural skill for them, they may have created a system to keep them disciplined in executing it consistently. All of what they’ve learned can make them a great resource in helping you define a way to teach the skill to other reps.
At the end of the day, it’s an important lesson to remember that what you are best at may be difficult for you to teach to others. Never underestimate your own unique talents by assuming that if something is easy for you that it should be easy for your reps. And never assume that just because you’re good at something that you will be good at teaching it. The opposite is more likely to be true.
- - - -
If you want to learn more ways to help improve your team's selling skills, attend our sales coaching summit!