Earlier this week I wrote about the rep who has bone-chilling fear of talking to the person in the corner office or the ultimate decision maker or the person two steps up from their contact person. The pundits on the blogosphere can quip about tactics and cure-alls but the bottom line is how do you coach a salesperson to overcome their fear of the dreaded “Big Chalupa”?
Coaching tip #1: Bring value into the equation. When I sold a product that provided value I felt that I could and should talk to any decision maker. The theory was that if I didn’t talk to the decision maker I would be doing him or her a disservice. Think about that! It is powerful! What provides value with my product, me, the company, customer support, R & D, industry standing? Dissect all of these and discuss these with the salesperson.
Coaching tip #2: What we do is separate from who we are. We all perform multiple roles every day. We are also individuals with a strong sense of purpose and identity. Separating those two is key to losing fear. I worked hard to teach salespeople that they were all perfect tens on their identity side. Hell, we were born tens! On the role side we fluctuate between ten and one depending on how we perform those roles. Role performance is an objective exercise that can be evaluated and then improved by technique. No prospect can get into my identity and change the ten status. I can perform poorly in my role but I can change that! This is a ridiculously hard concept for people to understand but separating identity from role helped me and a whole bunch of salespeople deal with fear. (Thank you Sandler Systems.)
Coaching tip #3: Research, research, research. Do any of us buy anything these days without researching the options? Why don’t salespeople do the same thing prior to calling on accounts? One of the best tools on the planet is the book written by Sam Richter called Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling. In my world (as in Sam’s) knowledge equals confidence. If a salesperson knew that the CEO of a company was active in Big Brothers or Big Sisters and the rep had a Big Brother growing up how do you think that would affect the rep’s ability to make an appointment with that person? Done deal folks!
Coaching tip #4: Listen, listen, listen. One of the best questions I ever asked a rep was, “My gut says that something might be holding you back from seeing certain people. What do you think that is”? I stumbled on that after I tried to “convince” a rep to do uncomfortable behaviors. Sometimes you have to get inside someones head and that takes listening skills.