A common mistake sales managers make in sales training, is to give salespeople a laundry list of things they need to improve upon. However, most salespeople only have the capacity to improve one or two things at any given time. You don’t want to overwhelm them because you may hurt their self confidence – not good.
The solution? Years ago I learned a great technique for diagnosing performance problems from Andy Grove, the former CEO of INTEL, in his book High Output Management. Grove suggests you pull out a clean sheet of paper and on the left side write down as many positives as you can about the sales person and down the right side list all the things that the rep needs to improve. Then look at the whole thing and try to pick out the common threads among all the items listed.
For example, suppose a rep’s strength is a high amount of prospecting activity. But weaknesses include low lead conversion rate and a low quote-to-close rate. Now, look for the common thread.
Potential common threads that tie these observations together include:
a) The sales rep isn’t asking 2nd or 3rd level diagnostic questioning. If so, why?
b) Perhaps he/she is spending too much time talking about the exciting capabilities of your product/service, rather than focusing on underlying customer problems.
c) Perhaps he or she lacks the self confidence to engage C-level prospects in a thought-provoking way.
d) Does the salesperson lack business acumen?