Question: At what point during the “superstar building process” can management step in and provide support for their sales staff?

Answer: This is a great question, thanks for asking it. Forgive me if I stray a little to the theoretical side.

First, notice that the question is based on the assumption that there is a “superstar building process.” Let me refine my understanding of what that means. I’m not sure developing a sales superstar is as cut-and-dried as this phrase would indicate.

“Superstar building process” implies that you can put someone in the front end of the process, intervene in some way, and pop out the end of the process with a finished sales superstar. Sort of like dumping chunks of granite in a machine, and reproducing Michelangelo’s David in the end. It’s just not that simple.

You have to have the raw material to start with and that raw material primarily has to do with the individual’s motivation. You must start with someone who wants to achieve at a superstar level, and is willing to pay the price in hard work and constant growth to do so. Most reps do not become sales superstars because they don’t want to become one. They just choose not to do it. They don’t have the drive to excel.

What influences someone to pursue excellence? Is it nature or nurture? DNA or environment? I won’t solve that question here. But I will say it is more likely developed in the family, as the person is growing up, than it is by a sales manager. You are more likely to hire someone who already has the drive to excel than you are to instill it in someone who doesn’t.

Even so, a sensitive sales manager can be a tremendously positive force in the lives of his charges. I dedicated my first book to the memory of one manager who had a major impact on my life and career.

Having said all of that, let me rephrase the question: ”What can a sales manager do to improve the likelihood that he will shape the development of a sales superstar?” That question I can answer:

1. Hire motivated people who have a drive to excel. Look for a record of success in two or more endeavors and evidence of a self-image of a highly successful person.
2. Surround salespeople with images of success and models of achievement.
3. Coach intensively at first, and gradually move to intervention when it’s necessary. In your coaching, speak three words of positive reinforcement for every word of criticism. Support and encourage the positive behaviors, and ignore as much as you can of the negatives.
4. Expect excellence, and recognize sales staff frequently and publicly for attaining it.
5. Invest in their development. Spend money sending them to seminars and buying them books and audio programs.
6. Keep in regular communication, and create a climate where your budding superstar can talk with you about what is on his mind.

If you do these things, your chances of developing a sales superstar will increase enormously.

Dave Kahle is a leading authority on distributor sales. He’s written nine books, presented in 47 states and eight countries, and has personally worked with over 287 companies, helping enrich tens of thousands of sales people and transform hundreds of sales organizations. Sign up for his free weekly Ezine.