This was a question that was recently asked by a coaching client who was the senior sales person in his company and stepping into a leadership role as VP of Sales. Should his coaching program focus on his strengths that got him to this point, or should he work on eliminating his weaknesses?
Is it really one approach versus the other?
Which yields a better result – maximizing strengths, or eliminating weaknesses? Obviously it would seem that these two approaches to coaching conflict one another. Why don’t we let those salespeple who are more natural farmers, hunters, account managers, closers just do what they are best at? Why do they need to worry about their weaknesses?
A strength based approach would argue that focusing more on success than failure and is a more positive approach. It would also mean knowing what your strengths are, and which strengths will help you to overcome the weaknesses that are a road block. Who wouldn’t want to feel the warm glow of knowing what you are good at? Whatever weakness you have- just find a way around it!
But it’s the weaknesses that will undermine you, surprise you, throw you off and even diminish what strengths you do have. Superman had a lot of strength, but it was his kryptonite weakness that rendered all his strength useless. He was only able to access his strength when his weakness was not in the way.
How can we use this to improve sales?
If improvement is what you are looking for, focusing solely on strengths will get you more of the same.
It’s your weaknesses that others will be able to use against you. Is discussing money a weakness? Buyers will hammer you on price. Is need for approval a stumbling block? Buyers who intimidate you will have a field day. Are you unable to control your emotions? You will either miss completely what is happening with the buyer, or over analyze to the point of paralysis.
What type of salesperson do buyers want to engage with?
Another reason to eliminate weaknesses is that buyers today demand it. They don’t want one dimensional order takers, they seek well rounded and knowledgeable thought leaders who can help them develop holistic solutions to their problem, not just the latest tactics or products being sold. When all you have is a hammer, doesn’t everything look like a nail?
Can you do this yourself?
We are the worst judges of our own strengths and weaknesses. The only problem with focusing on weaknesses is when you are trying to do it on your own. You simply cannot see your weaknesses because you justify away why it’s there. Or you focus so much on it you put up a wall that says “This is just how I am and will always be, there is no way to change it.” We put a conscious limit on what we are capable of.
Having an objective third party who can see something in you outside of your own limitations is the first step to overcoming weaknesses. To recognize and acknowledge is only useful when you seek help outside yourself to eliminate it.