I’m often asked the question, “What’s the difference between coaching a younger, newer sales professional versus a veteran salesperson?” There are several answers to that question, however, my consistent answer is:
Teach and coach confidence.
A confident seller is a credible seller. What prospect wants to buy from a salesperson that is showing up nervous and anxious?
So how do successful sales managers build and coach confidence in new, young salespeople?
Normalize the difficulty of learning and failure. We live in an instant gratification world, one where social media shows the beautiful, successful side of people’s lives. Everyone promotes themselves as an expert or an overnight success.
This type of environment and messaging can create self-doubt in a new, young seller.
- Why am I having so much difficulty building a book of business?
- Am I really cut out for sales?
- When am I going to know the answers to all the questions being asked by prospects?
Self-doubt creeps in and a young salesperson might be tempted to throw in the sales towel and give up.
The fix. Expose your sales team to the back stories of overnight successes. Ask your sales team to hop on the internet and research the top 50 business failures. They will find stories of wildly successful people that were also wildly unsuccessful on their journeys to becoming successful.
These back stories help new, young sellers recognize that there is no such thing as an overnight success.
Introduce your sales team to the biology of learning. Mastery of anything is accomplished through repetition, hours of practice and hard work. Mastery is difficult. Your brain develops new neural pathways, habits and skills through repetition. As Daniel Coyle, author of the Talent Code says, “Struggle is not an option: it’s a biological requirement.”
Coach the invisible. The invisible is that little voice in a young salesperson’s head that says, “You don’t know enough to call on big offices and big titles.” That little voice tells a young salesperson to play it safe and avoid risks. As a result, a young salesperson avoids doing the necessary selling behaviors that guarantee success because of their fear of looking stupid or getting stumped during a sales meeting.
The fix. Establish a new goal for your new salesperson. That goal should be to get to 100 no’s from prospects as fast as they can. When your young salesperson gets a no, encourage him or her to set-up a quick coaching call so they can learn the valuable lessons gained from a no.
After you share your coaching tips, encourage your salesperson to apply the advice by connecting with a colleague to practice. Coach the invisible. Teach your team to ignore that little voice and instead take risks, fail, learn the lesson and try again.
Become a business expert. Teach your sales team the business of business. Product knowledge is important. Sales skills are important and equally important is business acumen. Does your new, young salesperson even understand how their prospects make money? I certainly didn’t and it cost me business in my early years of sales.
Take a lesson from one of my clients. They make it a best practice to have the company CFO meet with new salespeople to educate them on key performance metrics that are tracked and measured by executives. Then, the sales manager and CFO partner up to demonstrate the most effective ways to ask provocative questions or share insights during a sales call. This type of training sets the salesperson up as a business advisor rather than a transactional salesperson.
Build confidence in your young sellers by normalizing the difficulty of learning and coaching the invisible.