Even the Best Sales Coaching Cannot Raise The Dead

by Chris Young

I would like to say it is funny... Funny that sales managers think they can change sales people through sales coaching. It cannot be done.

You cannot fix "broke". Employee coaching will not fix a poor Job Fit problem.

You are either wired to sell, or you are not.

The real talent or "wiring" to be a rockstar outside sales professional comes through an optimal combination of Behaviors, Values, and Attributes. Every position has a unique Talent DNA.

"Rockstar" outside sales professionals are aggressive, seek problems to solve, enjoy working through people. Top sales professionals expect to be paid what they are worth and will take the necessary actions to make it happen.

You just need to get out of their way.

This applies for any position - sales, management, operations, marketing, accounting, etc.

I recently spoke with a sales manager who suspected over a year ago that a particular sales team member just could not cut it. They were committed to "saving" the sales team member. They had to. The CEO told them to. The sales manager had requested the CEO to allow them to let the low performer go.

The CEO said, "No... Work with him..."Team building

The CEO may as well have said, "While you are at it... Raise the dead. While you are at it... Steal the man's dignity, their hopes, and their dreams. While you are at it, reduce the company's margins because we lost sales. And while you are at it... Get ready for a lower paycheck because the low performer is taking compensation that could be spread amongst those who do fit the job well."

The sales manager dutifully worked with the low performer and actually helped the team member improve. But...The sales manager noticed something interesting. The sales manager noticed that every time they lightened up on their sales coaching - when they focused their efforts on other sales professionals on the team - the low performer's performance went down.

Imagine that.

Trying to "raise the dead" - to improve the performance of the low Job Fit sales person is really problematic for two important reasons....

  • First... Low performers take up valuable coaching time that sales managers could be using to improve the results of Secondary and Primary Job Fit performers. But instead, sales managers waste their valuable time trying to coach the uncoachable - to "raise the dead" - to improve the performance of the lowest performer.
  • Second... The other problem is even worse... Low performers know they are low performers and they suffer emotionally for it. I see it all the time. The manager applies pressure to perform. The low performer tries everything the sales manager recommends. The low performer wants to be like the high performers. They attend seminar, read books, watch Glengarry Glen Ross... To no avail.

When I review the results of our personality profile instruments for low performers, I see often see something that frightens me profoundly. I see indications the low performer really does not like their job. Many people suffer significant stress because each day they hate going to work due to poor Job Fit.

Employee EngagementThat is not only sad but morally wrong.

Sales managers and CEOs are thinking they are helping low performers by keeping them on the team when they do not perform. The unfortunate reality is that the low performer and everyone else suffers as a result.

Keeping low performers on the team who do not fit the job - especially when it is painfully obvious is not charity - it is cowardice. Keeping low performers on the team is the avoidance of reality. It is a commitment to mediocrity and reduced morale. It is just plain wrong to have low performers flounder when they could flourish in a role they were meant for.