The 3 Types of Nightmare Sales Reps… And How to Coach Them


Are difficult salespeople holding you back? Find out what makes them tick and the coaching strategies that will engage them and put you back in control.

In 19, hyper-focused minutes, we’ll cover:
  • The top 3 most difficult sales rep ‘types’ that create management challenges
  • What their behavior really says about their underlying motivators
  • The risks these types can pose to the team if not coached correctly
  • How to tap into their motivators to coach them in the best way possible


Read the Full Transcript of the Briefinar Below:

Jeb Brooks:     Hello and welcome. My name is Jeb Brooks. I want to say thank you for joining us for Briefinars for Sales Leaders. We promise to be brief, to be bright, and bring it all to you in 19 minutes. Today, we’re going to be talking about the three types of nightmare sales reps. And perhaps most importantly, how to coach them.
Jeb Brooks:     Our guest today is a very, good friend and great colleague of mine here at the Brooks Group, Angie Wheeler. Angie brings us today, 23 years of sales and consulting experience through a broad range of different types of organizations. But perhaps most importantly for the topic of the day, is the fact that she has coached nearly 9,000 people, all over the globe. So she has certainly worked with these nightmare types. So with that, let me turn it over to Angie. Hey, Angie? Who are these people we’re talking about today.
Angie Wheeler:    Who are these people? Well, the good news and the bad news Jeb, is we’ve all worked with them over the years, and they do tend to stick in our memory. You know frankly, we’ve got the three, really top nightmare sales people. Ones that are so easily related to. But, [inaudible 00:01:28] they might fit in other categories as well.
Angie Wheeler:    For everybody to keep in mind, the points that we’re going to be talking about, really apply to any challenging coaching situation. But of course, there’s much more complexity to it. So, we’ll get to that in a little.
Angie Wheeler:    But who are they? First, let’s talk about Narcissist Nancy for a minute. She is the sales rep who thinks that, it’s okay to be a lone ranger because my numbers show I’m doing the right thing. So if you just stay out of my way, and let me produce, all will be good. Don’t micromanage me.
Angie Wheeler:    And you compare a Narcissist Nancy to…let’s call him Legacy Larry. And he’s the one who has the attitude of, especially for anyone that’s younger, you went to an organization, you’ve heard people say, “I know more about these chocolates than you do, these products, or I’ve [inaudible 00:02:28] than you’ll ever know.” The coaches see it all. There’s a lot of positive in that. He tends to think about changes as a notion in how companies offer products and services don’t apply to him because he’s so well versed.
Angie Wheeler:    And then we have, I like to call him Teflon Tim. We all know these kind of folks who are, maybe they came into the organization because they have some connections. In general, we tend to see them as younger maybe, in their 20s, maybe 30s who had a connection to the CEO or maybe a senior member but let’s not forget, these folks also can be coming to our team because they were part of a company that acquired hours, so they feel like they’re in a more superior position because they’re part of the acquiring company that, any criticism of what they’re doing is gonna fall on deaf ears.
Angie Wheeler:    So those really, I would sum up three of the toughest coaching [inaudible 00:03:39] that we as sales leaders see overtime.
Jeb Brooks:     So, Narcissist Nancy, Legacy Larry, and Teflon Tim. If only they were always named so clearly. Sometimes, it’s tougher to spot them than that.
Angie Wheeler:    Yeah.
Jeb Brooks:     Let’s take a look- let me ask you this Angie, what does good coaching look like?
Angie Wheeler:    Well, good coaching looks like first, it has to be well thought out. And you need a coaching plan that is driven by facts. And observations. There’s no room for gossip, no room for conjecture, no room for only basing commentary or coaching on opinions. You know why? Because if you don’t take this measure the fact approach, see our poor guy pushing the boulder up the hill? You guys remember back to your high school or college days, in Greek mythology, remember hearing about Greek mythology Sisyphus is doomed for eternity to push a boulder up a hill over and over, just to watch it slide back down.
Angie Wheeler:    Well, that’s what happens when don’t take the most effective approach to coaching the sales people on our team. We just have to keep dealing with the same issues an problems over and over again, and nobody has time for that. We have too many other important roles that we play to just be a broken record and have this monkey on our back. So that’s why we’re going to take a closer look at some of the most important things that we can do as coaches to make sure we can work with our sales team, work with the individuals, come together for a better future state.
Jeb Brooks:     Can you give us an example?
Angie Wheeler:    Oh my gosh, can I give you an example? I’ve got a backpack full of examples. Yeah, one that comes to mind, I had a very large team, we had a 700 person sales team and one guy sticks out, his name wasn’t Larry, but his name was actually Phil. And Phil in a nutshell, would not put any information into their CRM, because he was afraid that other people would poach it. He’ll [inaudible 00:05:56] sometimes, sometimes not show up to the Monday morning sales meetings. And when he wasn’t there, he’d say, “Well, I’m out making calls. I’m out bringing in the business. That’s why I’m not going to come to these meetings.”
Angie Wheeler:    And Phil tended to not play well with others. And you know, as sales leaders, sometimes we’re willing to go alon with that. If somebody is producing really well, because it’s such a fine line. Do I risk being perceived as a micromanager or meddling in his business and the way he goes about business? Because there’s some risk to that. And at the end of the day, especially for, publicly held company, or company of any size. As sales leaders, our number one priority is revenue.
Angie Wheeler:    So, this guy, he was tough. And he had basically been given a free pass by sales leaders just one after the other, just stay out of his way. But it really created some chaos internally as well. That’s just one of many, many examples.
Jeb Brooks:     Well, thanks. Let’s take just a second and talk about the purpose of the Briefinar. We’re giving you some nuggets. We want you to walk away, in a very short period of time, with some ideas. So one of the things I’ve asked Angie to do is to- or will ask Angie to do, is to share a framework for a good coaching conversation. And unfortunately, we really can’t get into the details in a 19 minute session. So if you’re interested in expanding on what you’re hearing here about Narcissist Nancy, and Legacy Larry, and Teflon Tim, I highly recommend you consider our sales coaching workshop, coming up in Nashville, September 14th and 15th. So if you have questions about that, reach out to us. You can find out details either by having a conversation with us or checking out our website, that link is there, and we’ll be providing that via email as well. But just know, we’re giving you a very high level overview in 19 minutes. And really this takes a lot more than that to master as Angie has.
Jeb Brooks:     So with that, let me turn it back to you Angie and ask you to walk us through that high level framework. Knowing that you’re boiling down 23 years of experience with 9,000 individuals into just one quick minute. What’s that framework?
Angie Wheeler:    Well, first off, that’s probably the easiest thing I’ll do all day is 23 years and 9,000 people down into one minute.
Angie Wheeler:    Alright, ready. I’m sitting up straight in my chair and here we go. It’s actually not too tough. And I’m going to say, first of all, for everybody that’s listening, as much as we’re gonna say there’s a lot of detail, it’s also important to not overthink it and realize you already know a lot so we’re gonna [inaudible 00:08:58] tapping into some stuff that’s practical and makes a lot of common sense but it just takes- that measured factor of an approach.
Angie Wheeler:    So, first off. What do we need to do to prepare for these coaching conversations? The information that we pull together from a preparation standpoint is- we’ve gotta make sure that we go back and look at what are we actually trying to achieve. What are we trying to change. Is it a behavior? Is it a skill? Is it an attitude? And by the way, good luck with that. That can be pretty tough. But you have to decide what your goal is, because if you are wanting to change or have an impact on somebody’s sales results and you realize that they don’t have the depth of knowledge that they need, so a particular product or particular product set, then that’s going to be a fairly easy and straightforward coaching conversation. You still need to have the dialogue because you only have your side of the story. So determine what your goal is. Because if it’s more about attitude or behaviors, then go about it a little differently. Set your goal, and then the supporting context that you need.
Angie Wheeler:    Think about it this way. You’re putting together your business [inaudible 00:10:20]. Just look at it as a sales person. What information are you relying on? Where are you getting it from? And is it gonna hold up to scrutiny? Because we these folks that are really tough to coach, they’re gonna challenge you. And basically, they need to see proof of your opinion. Especially if it goes beyond just lacking sales results. What are the facts that you’re pulling from? What observations- hopefully you’ve been in this field or you’ve been on sales calls. You know specifically what you need to deal with. It might be the ability to take a deeper dive into questioning, to really understand a prospect’s needs instead of making some assumptions. So that would be an example of observations that you’d want to make and draw on.
Angie Wheeler:    And then finally, for anybody that’s been to our workshops, our sales workshop and our sales management workshop, remember how intriguing behavior styles are. And the differences that it makes in how we decide how we’re going to communicate with somebody. In a nutshell, when you have a hard driving, more assertive or aggressive, fairly high ego individual, say like a Narcissist Nancy, the way you want to handle the conversation from the very first words out of your mouth to the way you wrap it up, it’s gonna be different than somebody who takes a more methodical, careful approach. So, any indication that you can find on the behavior style is certainly going to guide the conversation that you have.
Angie Wheeler:    So, for the conversation itself then. Make sure, right up front, you have agreement on the goal. Get agreement of we are going to have a conversation around the, I’ll use this one example, the ability to gather all the important facts [inaudible 00:12:14] that a prospect might be sharing with us and see where we might be missing some things, see where we might have had a chance to lose some business. So, let’s get agreement that this is not a punitive conversation. This is not a performance management conversation, in terms of a larger performance with you. This is about, what can we do, together, so this sales person can be even stronger in the future. And it’s really important to stress, that this is a conversation, this is a dialogue. This is not, you telling a sales person what to do.
Angie Wheeler:    So you’re going to see, when we talk a little bit further here in a few minutes about the three types of sales people that we’ve talked with, there are some really important things to remember. In terms of, we have to recognize their contribution. We’re not blowing smoke up their skirt but these folks demand recognition and respect. That’s part of why they can be really challenging. Because sometimes it’s a little misplaced. We need to validate their contribution, we also need to be flexible and have possibly come up with additional ways that we might want to solve a problem. We need to listen to their ideas but at the same time, we do need to be clear, when we have a directive that we need to deliver or if we need to communicate a consequence to not making these changes. That there will be an impact if we can’t come together with our sales person. And make these changes in collaboration and in an agreement.
Angie Wheeler:    And in terms of follow up, where do we go from here with all of these? I can’t tell you Jeb, how many times over the years, I have worked with individual sales people and they are- or excuse me, individual sales leaders, and they tell me about these coaching conversations that they have and they feel like they’re making good progress but at the same time, they don’t have a measured cadence for follow up, a measurement. And are those sales people actually changing their behaviors? Building on their skill set? And do they see that there is an endpoint in the future instead of just being these rolling issues. So definitely accountability comes in but also appreciation for their collaboration at the same time.
Jeb Brooks:     That’s it. It’s not coaching if there’s not follow up. So let’s dig in. Talk to us about Narcissist Nancy.
Angie Wheeler:    Narcissist Nancy. Well, [inaudible 00:14:45] real quick by first looking at the risk that we’ve done and not holding these coaching conversation the way they should be done, the way we just read.
Angie Wheeler:    First off, with Nancy, she can damage the company’s brand and reputation depending on how she acts and speaks out in the market. And she really, either bull in a china shop, or sales people that aren’t the team players, so it really causes some chaos. And that ends up taking a lot of our team having to manage emotions and non business related issues. And really one of the biggest risks that we’ve done is, again, it’s that fine line. Because if Narcissist Nancy is a high performer, then we, we have to be very thoughtful and careful. Because if she’s a high performer, she’s being courted by other organizations. She could probably write her own checks for where she goes. So, if we wanna keep that revenue, we have to be very deliberate in how we go about coaching her.
Angie Wheeler:    And so, some of the ways that we need to do that. Again, acknowledging her value and contribution, make sure that we are using the facts to gain her buy in. Because narcissist Nancy also knows, even if she’s not a high performer, you can’t argue with the facts. And listen to her opinions and be willing to go along with an idea that she may have. Might not have been your first choice, but if it’s reasonable go along with it because again, that feeds her ego. But here’s where you’re gonna want to push back on her. Narcissist Nancy likes to blame others. Narcissist Nancy likes to have excuses and so a little push back on those.
Angie Wheeler:    With Legacy Larry, it can be a little bit different. Legacy Larry, like we talked about before, he knows so much that he wants to be credited for that. He does have [inaudible 00:16:41] competing loyalties between old school and new school. So, recognize his tenure and do ask his opinion but really be clear on him, it’s not negotiable. This is the new guard, Larry. We don’t want to lose your knowledge and your influence that you have within the organization but we’re in a new situation. This is a new day. So you’re on the bus or you’re not. That type of conversation. And then wrapping it up with agreement. Letting him continue to play a lead somewhere within the team that will feed his ego as well.
Angie Wheeler:    And then for Teflon Tim, it can be a little bit different. Teflon Tim has some divided loyalty. He, whoever helped him come into this position, or the acquiring organization that he came in with, he’s going to feel loyalty on that side but then hopefully he feels some to you as a sales leader as well. We not only need to make sure that we keep him happy and performing but whoever is his mentor, if this is somebody who’s really important in our world, more senior to us, we gotta make sure that we are communicating to that mentor as well. If there is any conflict or issue with us and Teflon Tim. So let’s reinforce his role and his value to the team. Ask his insight, but guide him where necessary and really focus on the future with Teflon Tim. Teflon Tim, if he’s younger, he wants to know, what’s in it for me, what are the benefits for me, and Jeb you’re my sales leader versus what my Uncle Bob who’s been here for 20 years is most important.
Jeb Brooks:     Of course. Thank you for running those through. We have time for a really quick question. We’ve had several come in. And let me toss this one out, 30 seconds, this is for you Angie.
Jeb Brooks:     I’ve dealt with a lot of Narcissist Nancy types in my career. Haven’t been able to make them change. Can you truly change someone’s attitude?
Jeb Brooks:     And you’ve got 20 seconds to answer.
Angie Wheeler:    20 seconds, yeah. Tough question. Here’s the bottom line. Most commonly, these folks want to be heard and as sales leaders, we don’t always take the time to have those deep individual conversations to really be heard on what their opinions are. And take them into consideration and be very clear on where we agree and where we disagree. So that’s the main goal. We’ve gotta listen to them even when it’s hard. And then make the decisions together from there and use the facts to drive it. That will change the attitude over time.
Jeb Brooks:     Alright, well I want to thank you Angie, thank you to our listeners. And we have a couple more questions here, we’ll follow up with you individually. And I remind you, September 14th and 15th in Nashville, Tennessee, we’re gonna have a whole workshop dedicated to these topics. How to coach, not only these types but specific individuals, and I think Angie would agree, the best coaching is tailored to the individual, not to a broad type. So with that, I wish you a happy selling, happy sales leadership, and thank you for your time. Have a wonderful day.

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