An old friend and his wife (Bob and Glo) came for their annual trip to hang with the LaGrone’s for fun, sun and FISHING in Florida. Yes, I’ll admit it, I am a fish-a-holic! So is Bob! It was great to catch up on the last year and spend time on the water doing what we love.
One of the interesting things I noticed about Bob is that he is not coachable. At least that is how we would describe him in the sales development world. He’s smart, very successful, extremely talented with a super high figure it out factor and he’s funny. He’s extremely likeable and fun to be around. However, he doesn’t take well to being told what to do. He prefers to figure it out by himself.
On day 1 Bob and I roll out on the flats at the crack of 11 am. First night at camp is always tough. Anyway, we began fishing and I was really putting on a clinic. 1 fish, 2 fish, 5 fish, even 8 fish before Bob ever got one to hook up and in the boat. I tried to tell him what to do. I showed him what to do and I explained what I was doing. I got the look. You know the look that says shut up I know what I’m doing. The he said, I don’t care how much more time you fish around here I should be able to out fish you anywhere. That was Bob’s ego talking. I’m fairly quick too and right there I realized Bob was not interested in my coaching. I never offered another piece of advice.
The rest of the week I caught fish after fish after fish after fish. I would go so far as to say I caught 10 fish for every one fish he caught. Of course this continued to frustrate Bob. Then finally on the last day he figured it out. He was catching as many as I was. I couldn’t help myself. I had to rib him a bit, “You finally figured it out.” He responds, “Yeah I ‘ve been doing exactly what you’ve been doing all week. I’ve mimicked your technique, I fished with the same lures, same bait, same rod and reel, same line, same everything, except this morning I realized that all week when I’d drop the line back I was not reeling to tighten the line at the same time. That one nuance made the difference between catching and fishing!“
The same is true for your sales staff. You can teach them! You can tell them. You can show them. You can talk till you are blue in the face but, you must force them to role-play. Practice, practice, practice. Anyone can talk about a technique, but you must force them to use the technique. However, if you just teach the technique that rarely works, they must believe the technique will work and all too often it’s the hidden or invisible weaknesses that prevent them from believing the technique will work.