Shaping skills into sales

The term “coach up” has become trendy in athletic circles, as in, “We’ve got some kids with raw skills, now we just have to coach them up.”

Business has never been bashful about applying sports jargon to the management role. Sales coach Marc Wayshak (, author of “Game Plan Selling: The Definitive Rulebook for Closing the Sale in the 21st Century,” offers a three-point plan for coaching up underperforming salespeople.

Focus on activities. So often, companies spend all of their time driving their salespeople to a certain quota rather than laying out the plan to actually get there. The problem for many underachieving salespeople is not the lack of desire to actually hit their sales goal, but rather, they don’t know how to get there in the first place. The first thing that should be made clear is the exact number of prospecting activities a salesperson must do in order to hit numbers. This means: how many prospecting calls, how many introductions asked for, how many client calls, and networking events —everything, so that way all the salesperson has to do is follow the plan.

Sales teams must be transparent. So often organizations keep individual sales performance a secret. Forget that. Make it totally public to everyone in the organization how each salesperson is doing, and more importantly, whateach salesperson is doing. Nothing increases sales motivation like seeing how and what others are doing. This means looking at sales numbers but also looking at each sales person’s prospecting activities. How many prospecting calls did your sales team make this week? How many introductions did your sales team ask for this week?

Always be hiring. Nothing motivates underperformers like knowing that they have to perform or they will be replaced. However, the threat must be real — as in there is ongoing search for A-players. This motivates underperformers to perform, while also providing you with a pool of talent to add to your team.