Sales Manager Chronicles: Coaching the Old-School Sales Pro

Learn how to transition the old-school salespeople on your team to the new era of social selling.

February 21, 2014

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My name is Barry Evolvowitz. I’m a sales manager in Anytown, USA. I love teaching my sales team how to generate leads, drive them through the sales funnel and close deals.

I’m here to chronicle my journey as a Sales Manager so that others – like yourself – can learn from my experiences.

Your team is likely made up of a variety of sales people, all bringing unique experiences and skill sets to the table. It’s our job to capitalize on the best of these skills and hone the rest.

Increasingly, social selling is how the large majority of my team achieves results. A new skill set for some to learn? Yes. One to ignore? Absolutely Not.

I have an individual on my sales team, let’s call him Guy Hardsell. You probably have a ‘Guy Hardsell’ on your team, too. Guy is your typical old-school sales pro insistent on trying to close deals using antiquated sales methods and tools.

Here are just a few things we’ve heard Guy say around the office:

  • Just give him a call and tell him you know John. Everybody knows a John.
  • Have you tried calling from a payphone?
  • Selling is half schmoozing, half listening and half closing.
  • Gatekeepers got nothing on me.
  • Name me one person who closed a deal on the spot using social media.

As you can see, I had my work cut out for me. You might be asking yourself, “why bother? Why not just find a new sales professional willing to adapt to the era of social selling?”

Well, despite all his quirks, Guy is passionate about selling – a quality not always easy to find. And even though it’s been a struggle for him (the cold calling numbers game doesn’t work like it used to), I was convinced Guy had the potential to shoot up the leaderboard and drive revenue once he adapted. Now I just needed to figure out how…

Playing to strengths

A sales professional doesn’t stick around as long as Guy has without having a few skills at his disposal. When Guy’s cheeseball intros actually work and he connects with an interested prospect, he asks excellent questions and listens intently to what the prospect is saying.

Then, when the time is right, he maps the solution back to the prospect’s needs using the prospect’s language. His closes are still a tad aggressive, but we can work on that, too.

To boost Guy’s confidence, I’ve had him train some of the newer reps on asking discovery questions and truly understand the prospect’s needs.

Showing proof

Your old-school folks like Guy aren’t going to change unless they’re convinced it will lead to bigger commission checks.

So I started convincing. Using my LinkedIn Usage Reporting Dashboard, I showed Guy how four out of the five top salespeople on my team also ranked in the top five for metrics such as days logged in, searches, profile views and communication. This got his attention and with proof behind this approach, it wasn’t an old-school vs new-school conversation anymore. It was about driving results, which Guy is all about.


Now that Guy was ready to learn, we started working on his LinkedIn presence.
First, his profile:

  • We removed the photo of him riding his jet ski shirtless and replaced it with a professional headshot that made him look friendly and approachable.
  • We gave his summary and background information a makeover, focusing on how he delivers value to his customers.
  • In the summary section of his profile, we uploaded a case study profiling one of the accounts he sold, along with a short excerpt describing how much he enjoyed working with this particular customer.

Next, his connections and communications:

  • Guy started following his existing accounts on LinkedIn. He was amazed by all the news and developments he had been missing.
  • We had Guy shadow one of our successful social sellers, who taught him how to find key prospects using the advanced LinkedIn search function in Lead Builder, and also taught him how to save his searches and setup automatic lead alerts.
    Guy also learned how to use Lead Builder to identify the stakeholder map within his existing accounts.
  • Once Guy was able to identify a long list of prospects and stakeholders to connect with – and became aware of warm paths to these contacts via TeamLink – he was ready to jump out of his pants. But first, we began training him on InMail best practices so that he can communicate strategically instead of leveraging dated cold calling tactics.

Guy still has some learning to do (don’t we all?), but he’s well on his way to becoming a social selling superstar now that he is experiencing the results for himself.

Learn why LinkedIn Sales Navigator can transform almost any old-school sales pro into a staunch supporter of social selling.

And stay tuned for more Sales Manager Chronicles!