Our son read 130 pages to us at bedtime when Mommy usually reads to him. He's always too tired to attempt sounding out words but tonight he read two 65 page books. And when Mommy helped him with the one word he had trouble with, he said, "It's OK, I don't need your help Mommy!" And he laughed so much harder when he heard the funny words coming out of his own mouth. He reread one funny passage five times he liked it so much. And he was so proud of himself he just wanted to keep on reading, and reading, and reading. He was still reading when we checked in on him a half hour later.
The same phenomenon takes place with salespeople. Not just new salespeople, but veteran salespeople too, who find themselves with new companies, industries, products or services, or calling into new markets.
At first, they just want to listen. Then they want you to go with them and help them do it. Finally, at some point, just when it seems like they can't do it by themselves, they successfully read the call, execute the entire process and have a great big smile on their faces, so proud of what they accomplished. Finally, they don't need your help anymore - you might screw it up!
As their manager, you must have the patience to allow this to happen, while at the same time having the urgency to push them along, coach and encourage them, provide constructive criticism, and make sure they're performing enough activity to drive results.
And then one day, when you aren't expecting it, they surprise you and read you the email they received from the client or customer they just closed.
When you are consistently hiring the right salespeople, it gives you greater confidence to demonstrate the patience required to develop them. When you play the numbers game and know that half of the people you bring on won't stick, it's difficult to differentiate between a slow bloomer and a chronic failure.
(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan