Salespeople sometimes have a propensity to stay in their comfort zone – doing more of what they are doing well. There are many reasons and rewards for taking up permanent residence in ones comfort zone – like being comfortable and successful selling a particular product to a fear of change.
From a sales coaching perspective it is important to understand whether a sales rep fails to move beyond their comfort zone by choice – that is, they simply want to continue to do what they are doing. Or, they want to break out but don’t have the skills and know how to do so. The first situation is fundamentally one about attitude and motivation and the second is primarily about knowledge and skill. Let’s take a look some ideas for how a sales manager might deal with a sales rep facing the second situation.
- Establish a sales coaching priority. Jointly establish with the sales rep that moving out of their comfort is important for their success. Then focus your sales coaching effort on the knowledge and skills to make that happen – make sure you describe what the end-state for change looks like.
- Minimize the risks of failure. Trying something different involves a lot of risks from: perhaps initially reduced commission to negative feedback from customers and peers. Where possible the sales manager needs to help the sales rep manage and minimize these risks.
- Reward behavior not just results. Successful change is best-accomplished one step at a time – over time. It is important to provide positive feedback all along the way as new behaviors are learned and applied, as opposed to, waiting until the final results are achieved for providing the proverbial pat on the back.
- Document and broadcast success. Usually when someone tries something new, the failures tend to be well documented. The sales manager needs to make sure the same is true for successes – this is helpful to the sales rep and to other sales reps who might be taking the same journey in the future.
- Collect best practices. As sales coaching efforts unfold good ideas will emerge relative to what sales reps looking to change need to learn. Document these best practices!
Looking back even five years, there are few markets where top sales performance can be achieved simply by selling to the same people, in the same way, with the same message as yesteryear. So, “this how do we help people skillfully move beyond their comfort zone problem” is likely to more than just – a nice to do.
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