23 February 2023 |

The power of giving your people a true north

By Gabrielle "GB" Blackwell

How to offer your low-performers a way to help themselves.

In my first AE position I failed miserably for the first 10 weeks of the quarter. Now you might be doing your math and going “GB there’s only 12 weeks in a quarter. How could you be failing for 10?”

I was rowing hard in the wrong direction

I didn’t really know what I was supposed to be doing to get my job done. I had been promoted from an SDR position into an AE role and I didn’t know which way was up and which way was down. On top of that, I can count on one hand how many times I was given feedback on ways that I could get better when I was ramping up. 

In the absence of direction on how to close the gap on my number, I just tried to work as hard as I possibly could. 

I knew what I was doing wasn’t right. But I didn’t know why or what to do about it.

Despite my best efforts, I still remained at $0 closed in the bottom spot of the leaderboard at a sales organization of 75 AEs.

I had never felt like more of a fraud in my life,and I hadn’t learned the importance of asking for help. So I continued to struggle…alone.

Then, a leader gave me a compass

One day, the VP of sales of the organization called me and said that he could tell that I was struggling. He knew that I could do a good job, but I simply needed some direction to get there. Mr. VP of Sales suggested I go and meet with the top three account Executives at the organization and get their take on how to get better. He then told me that he had already talked to those people and that they knew that I was going to be reaching out to them. 

I reached out to three top performers, put time on their calendar, and spent 30 minutes with each of them. During that time , they did three things:

  1.  Shadowed me in my process before giving any advice
  2. Validated me in the areas I was doing well and pointed to small fixes that would make an incredible difference
  3. Recommended homework I could do to up my development

I can still recall the guidance I received from one of the AEs about an up front contract. It helped me feel much more confident during my conversation and  empowered me to really run that conversation like it was my own, versus being subject to the will of the prospect.

I was so excited that I was learning, but more importantly, that I was receiving guidance on ways to improve in my role. Within a couple of weeks (the last two weeks of the quarter), I had closed more business than anyone else on my team and wrapped up my quarter at 193% of quota. 

This is a story of the power of direction. 

So many organizations and so many leaders stress the importance of just working hard, but they never tell you exactly where that hard work should be directed. 

My story could easily have ended with me still stuck at $0 in the bottom place of the leaderboard. But it didn’t. 

Someone believed in me enough to see past my attainment at the time. They pointed me towards the people who could provide the right kind of guidance. What was left from there was for me to put it all into action.

But it all started with someone directing my attention towards a better path.