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Sales Coaching: How to Coach a High-Performing Rep

If you’ve ever had a rainmaker on your sales team, you know that a unique dynamic sometimes exists between you and your star-player. You also probably know how tempting it is to let your high-performer simply ‘do their thing’ while you focus your efforts on helping other reps. But if that’s you, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to motivate your top reps.

I can tell you that it’s possible to manage that high-performing rep toward his or her own continued success as well as the success of the team. I’ve coached my share of top performers over the years, and these are some tips to help you coach your star player to stay at the top of his game.

Establish Mutual Respect

One of the most crucial things you can do to set this relationship up for success is to establish mutual respect. And I’d start with clearly defining your roles. Your rep must know they are an individual contributor for the team and that you are the manager. At the end of the day, you each have a job to do. Your job is to hit your company and team sales numbers. And your rep’s job is to hit their individual numbers.

Your rep should understand he/she won’t be treated differently from other reps. They should also understand that they are included in both negative and positive feedback from the team. Here’s the difference: Your top performers need to act and respond much differently as leaders on the sales team. And it’s your job to set that expectation.

I’ve found the best way to do this is to spend some face-to-face time with your star-player to let them know their contributions to the team are valuable. They already know they’re a top performer, but you have to let him/her know that you expect them to set an example for the others. Make it clear that they should set a high bar for logging salesforce calls, hitting activity metrics, and keeping the atmosphere around the office positive during tense weeks.

This isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have. In other words, your high-performing rep needs to know they’re an evangelist for getting tough things done.  

Give Them Time in the Spotlight

I know that one of the most powerful things I can do for a high-performing rep is to give them time in the spotlight, especially when it’s in front of their peers. This could be something as basic as leading a training where they can demonstrate their strengths as a salesperson. Depending on the size of your company, you can have them lead a company all-hands call.

“One of the most powerful things you can do for a high-performing rep is to give them time in the spotlight.”
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Tapping your rep to lead cross-functional projects is another way to get your high-performing rep involved in something where he or she can shine. There are countless projects that need the kind of input that only the sales team provide. Working closely with customer service to launch a new implementation plan is one example. Another could be working with the CS team to recognize someone who’s gone the extra mile can also keep your rep in the spotlight.

The marketing team can also benefit from the valuable input sales teams can provide. Your rep could help marketing craft new campaigns. He may be particularly helpful in setting the right tone that appeals to the customer by providing the proper cadence for blog posts or adjusting the language for marketing materials.  

Marketing automation is new to a lot of salespeople. You can do double-duty if you give your rep the exposure of working with the marketing team to learn about automation. Your rep can then lead a training for the sales team about what they learned.  

Bonus:

By doing this, other reps on your team see the leadership opportunities you provide for high-performers so it gives them incentive to work harder to get that opportunity.

Put Your Rep in Front of Senior Leadership

Shining a spotlight on your rep among his peers is a great tactic, but allowing her access to senior leadership can do wonders for their career.

For example, I set up monthly leadership meetings with executives from other departments. I give my top performer a ‘senate’ seat representing the sales team where they can articulate the team’s issues and concerns. This makes my rep look smart and valuable to executives while simultaneously becoming the hero to the sales team for helping to resolve their issues and concerns.

Create Upward Mobility

Your star player undoubtedly has career aspirations, but in order to help your rep advance within the organization, it’s important that you understand his ultimate goal.

“Every employee wants to know their hard work and performance will lead to upward mobility within the organization.”
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Talk to your rep about his career aspirations so that you can work together to create a plan to get her where he wants to go. This not only gives her incentive to continue performing at a high level, but it builds trust while helping to set a trajectory for his future with the company.

Remember, you aren’t treating or managing your high-performing rep differently. You’re just setting different expectations for results. Managing a high-performing rep is an exercise in trust. Your rep must trust that you’re on his side and that you want her to succeed. You must also deliver on the expectations your rep has of you. Making a high-performer feel included and appreciated, giving them access to other parts of the company, and helping them build a brand in front of senior leadership will lead to a healthy and lasting relationship.

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Justin Welsh

Justin Welsh is the VP of Sales at PatientPop, where he leads the direct sales team and inside sales team across the country.