Save Your Sales Rookies From Being Benched

Originally posted on LinkedIn:

"When’s the last time you pitched”, my coach asked me. He heard that I was quite the pitcher a couple years prior. He didn’t hear how my ability went to shreds because of not being taught the fundamentals of relying on your fastball or proper mechanics while pitching; lessons you can fall back on when you experience a rough stretch. I was throwing curve balls and succeeding over early competition, but as I aged and the competition improved, I couldn’t beat them with my curve nor did I have the mechanics to lean on, which forced me to the bench many times dejected.

The conversation continued; “I don’t know, two years ago?”

“Well, do you want to pitch today?”


“Maybe huh, well never mind, I’ll find someone else who wants to.”

I think of that moment because I’m hiring for a sales position and many of the prospects have similar experiences. They found early success with large deals, but many lost their confidence and their skills eroded because they weren’t coached on the fundamentals of developing a client base then building a successful career based on that foundation when those big deals weren’t being closed. When the home runs weren’t being hit, they couldn’t rely on the process of hitting singles, catching small accounts, which eventually leads you around the bases, scoring the runs you need to win.

In both cases, the talent was there, but the coaching wasn’t. The potential was seen, but unfulfilled. As the saying goes; crawl, walk, then run. As managers, we have the tools to support our entry level sales force while they learn to stand on two feet then walk. They will trip and fall, but with encouragement and reliance on what they’ve learned, they’ll get back up and learn to run. The cycle continues, but they’ll always get back up to speed and maybe faster than before. Confidence breeds success and vice versa.