Top Performers Can’t Be Ignored

Sales & Marketing Management

When it comes to coaching, most sales managers either devote their time to rescuing the worst players or gravitate to the best players. In “The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness,” author Kevin F. Davis says studies show the biggest payoff from coaching comes from working with the people you may think of as your “B” players.

“Your mindset needs to be focusing your one-on-one coaching time on the people with the biggest potential, not those with the biggest problems or the biggest deals,” Davis states. But he cautions that top performers shouldn’t be left alone entirely. The underlying assumption, if you don’t coach your top performers at some point, is that they are as good as they can get. In truth, your stars can set the tone for next-level salespeople. It is often pointed out that superstar athletes (think Tom Brady) often push themselves and their teammates the hardest in practice. 

“Your top performers can set the tone for your team around both skills and will. If theyhave the attitude of always striving to get better, their success example will provide inspiration for the entire sales team,” Davis writes. He offers two coaching strategies that keep top performers at the peak of their game:

•  Consistently enforce standards. Every team has standards that should be equally enforced no matter the status of the player.

•  Develop another bell cow. Salespeople take their cues from another peer, not management. Developing the high-potential salespeople on your team will give your “A” players more competition.

Lastly, Davis says managers should regularly tap their star salespeople for insights. “I recently saw a comment on a management blog from a top performer who wrote that he’d be leery of accepting advice from managers who thought they were always right. He would be more likely to seek out and accept advice from a manager if that manager had asked him for input on how to improve,” Davis says. “If you’re willing to learn how to get better, so will your top performers.”

“The Sales Manager’s Guide To Greatness” will be published in March by Greenleaf Book Group Press.