Trying to turn ordinary salespeople into extraordinary superstars is exciting and rewarding, but it can also be exasperating, unnerving and…surprising. You might be certain you have a very assertive go-getter on your hands, someone who seems clearly well suited to sales. But be careful! You could discover that he or she doesn’t really meet your expectations and, in fact, has a serious problem closing deals. What’s wrong?
It’s possible that you’re reading this person incorrectly. The individual in question may actually be a faux sales personality, someone who makes a great first impression and seems like a powerful, perhaps even overly aggressive, entrepreneur — but really is not. Don’t be fooled! The person you see as a little too driven may actually be just socially assertive, someone who knows how to illicit the attention of others, get noticed; this false persona will mislead you every time and inhibit your ability as a trainer to correctly assess needs, develop strengths, and navigate around weaknesses. Thinking this person is overly bold and then telling him or her to take on a more tempered business approach could be a big, and perhaps quite costly, mistake.
It’s not uncommon to find people who are outgoing and personable in sales. They typically exhibit an extraordinary amount of confidence and may have previously been told by others to “get into sales.” Unfortunately, however, not all socially oriented, self-assured individuals are sales material. Some of them are better suited to other areas — jobs in public relations, human resources or social services, for example. Many of these people are natural networkers, individuals with great interpersonal skills but without a strong business drive and a highly polished competitive edge.
Advising a Networker salesperson to tone down his or her approach is probably one of the worst things that you, as a trainer, can do. A boisterous, lively person can also be very passive and non-confrontational. These people should be encouraged to push themselves harder, take a tougher stand and not let their very real fear of being seen as demanding stand in the way of their sales success.
Networker personalities might talk a big game and sound impressive, but they’re often lackluster in their sales performance. They can make up seemingly credible excuses, blame their ineffectiveness on anything but themselves, and play — sometimes quite successfully — on the empathy of others.
While Networkers might not ever live up to your full expectations, here are some ways to help them realize a little more success in sales:
Suggest they team with an aggressive closer.
Networkers are all about people, and in sales this means they’re great when it comes to generating leads; piquing a buyer’s interest; scheduling appointments and/or seminars; and making informal, non-technical presentations. The other good news is they can often unlock doors that remain inaccessible to others. However, the bad news is they usually have a considerable amount of trouble successfully closing those doors.
Role play with them.
This is not to build their self esteem (they have plenty of that – at least when they first start out!) It’s to help you evaluate their overall knowledge, and general responses to specific situations. Be tough on them. If they seem to be relying on their charm to ease tensions or simply backing away, teach them how to stand firm, counter an argument, renegotiate a deal and not fall for sob stories. Let them know the only way to consistently drive sales is to press hard for results.
Instruct them to clinch deals now – not later.
While Networkers are typically quick paced and antsy, they also let others dictate to them. So, when a prospect wants more time or insists on scheduling another appointment “down the road” a Networker will usually oblige. You know that if a potential buyer walks away, there’s a good chance he or she will never come back; pound this into your Networker trainees’ heads.
Get to know all your trainees as individuals. Learn everything you can about their unique personalities, and key into clues that will lead you to an accurate assessment of who they really are. Once you understand them and learn how to bring out their best, your fledging sales pros will be far better prepared to compete and score wins.
They’ll be motivated, enlightened, and ready to take on new challenges.
And so will you.