Coaching and Mentoring Your Top Sales Performers

Posted on 11/12/2013 in Sales Coaching

We’ve had the opportunity to work recently with top sales performers from a couple different STAR clients. It reaffirmed the concept that most top sales achievers utilize someone as their mentor.  After all, top sales performers are no different than top performers in other fields, such as world class athletes or musicians.  For example, think of any top athlete.  You would be hard-pressed to find one who doesn’t use a coach. A fantastic resource that I highlight recommend on the topic of top performers is Geoff Colvin’s Talent is Overrated.  

You should treat your top sales professionals exactly the same.  Assign someone to be his/her mentor.  The sales mentor is someone who is willing and able to give the top performer candid feedback so that this particular salesperson can continue to develop and excel as a sales professional. 

Who can serve as a mentor?  The most likely and effective person is the salesperson’s immediate sales manager. Yet, many sales managers fail to perform a mentoring role, typically due to two reasons.  First, they mistakenly believe that there is limited room for improvement with the top sales performers.  As such, they don’t spend time coaching them.  In our experience, not only is this not true, but most top sales performers are self-motivated  to improve, and any improvement by them will often translate to dramatic increases in your sales and profits.

Second, the sales manager doesn’t serve as a mentor because he/she doesn’t know how to coach the top sales performers. With top performers, it is much more important that the sales manager dialogue with the salesperson rather than tell the salesperson what to do.  For some advice on how to do this well, see our earlier blog titled "Less Talk, More Dialogue.”   

In some instances, someone other than the sales manager should be the mentor.  A good example would be to assign a senior salesperson as a mentor to a more junior, high potential salesperson. I actually did this many years ago when I was a regional sales manager for an outside and inside sales team. One of my best, and more senior, salespeople was genuinely interested in helping newer salespeople who joined our team. He did a great job at nurturing and developing their skills. 

In other instances, especially if it is useful to bring in the perspective of an outside third party, you can hire and engage sales consultants as mentors for your top sales performers.  STAR’s consultants do provide one-on-one sales coaching or talk to you about how you, the sales manager can do this yourself. Sales managers interested in improving skills of their salespeople should visit the Sales Meeting Kits pages.