How a sales pro went from struggling to soaring in just a few months

(by Katrin)

I work mostly with A-players in sales, helping the best get better. I do, at times however, work with individuals who struggle. Here is an amazing story of a sales rep who shot from the bottom straight to the top within months. The results are very inspiring – to her, to her team and to me. Here is Lauren’s amazing story:

Eric, CEO of a global tech firm, had a problem. One of their sales reps, Lauren who had a sizable territory wasn’t living up to the potential they had seen in her three years ago, when they hired her. She wasn’t bad but the pressure from investors was on. Lauren, like all on the team, needed to step it up. As CEO, he had to do something fast.

He figured that training wasn’t the way to go; that was too general and bland. And whatever Lauren’s issues were, it wasn’t for lack of skills. She had gone through all the training, just like the others.

When he heard about my executive coaching work, and sales background, he asked: “Could you work with one of my reps?”

Sure, I said, let me talk to Lauren. Let’s see what’s going on. At first, Lauren was apprehensive. Once I explained, however, that this was 100% confidential, she opened up. She started talking about how she viewed the company, her job, and her ability to succeed.

It was clear she had a negative attitude which affected her confidence. She used phrases like, “I’m the only woman here,” and “I don’t like my boss” and “I have been here for three years but don’t seem to progress”. I wasn’t surprised to learn she was looking at jobs elsewhere.

I told her that she had a choice:

  1. Hold on to your (negative) attitude and move to another company, where things may or may not be different. Or . . .
  2. Embrace WHAT IS, make the best of your situation, and take full advantage of your company giving you a coach. Why not show them what you’re really capable of?

She thought long and hard – and then confirmed that she wanted to fully embrace her situation, and move forward in a positive way.

Thus started our amazing, 6-month coaching journey.

Coaching is very real-time and focused on what someone is facing right now. So, we identified her most pressing challenges, and knocked them out, one by one. It helped her improve quickly.

Some of Lauren’s specific challenges were . . .

  • She felt clunky during needs analysis meetings with C-level prospects.
  • She dreaded going to conferences, networking and hosting dinners.
  • Her relationships with engineers and field support teams were strained.
  • She struggled to “get in” with prospects.
  • Her boss told her “you talk too fast,” and “you need to pause more,” but she didn’t know how.

Lauren’s unique coaching journey involved…

Self-Awareness and Awareness of Others:

  • We did formal assessments and exercises that tapped her into her unique strengths, her wisdom and her own answers.
  • She connected with previous peak experiences of confidence, which resulted in an “AH-HA!” moment of enlightenment.
  • She raised her awareness of how she comes across – and the impact she has on others.

Tools:

  • I gave her a visual needs analysis tool which boosted her confidence and made her customer qualifications more fluid.
  • We revised her prospecting emails and she is now getting “excellent results” and “many new meetings.”

Body Language:

  • We worked on body language to help her ace critical conferences and dinners she was hosting.

Skills:

  • She learned and practiced new listening skills which make her a better collaborator.
  • We applied visualizations and blue-printing for success.
  • She learned how to pause in different ways and observed what effect it has on others.

Relationships:

  • She asked her engineers out for lunch and interviewed them about their jobs and challenges. Lauren quickly realized that the engineers loved to be involved. So having the confidence to ask questions was the catalyst she needed to open up those relationships, and soon the engineers became her biggest supporters! This helped improve her product knowledge and, in turn, generated even more new confidence!

After the first 3 months, Lauren had dramatically improved her results. She even got a promotion. We continued working together for another 3 months to make sure the new insights, learning and behavior change stuck.

By 6 months, Lauren experienced a complete turn-around. In her own words, “I sold more in the last 6 months than I did during the entire previous year”. 

“The coaching gave me the confidence to be a much better sales person. I feel passionate and really excited about my job now. And I’m getting rave reviews from colleagues and clients.”

Her bosses were delighted, as well. Turning around Lauren’s situation not only saved them the time (and money) of recruiting and training someone new, they now had an inspired and very successful rep.


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