You hired them for their strengths. Why focus on their weaknesses? Sales leaders, CEO’s, Management: Wouldn’t you rather focus on one’s strengths and increase the activities/behaviors that yield positive results? Unfortunately, most companies still focus on a sales professional’s weakness during reviews or “coaching” opportunities.

The first warning flag surfaces during the interview process: “Tell me, what’s your weakness?” Personally, I think it’s a lazy question without too much thought. C’mon, who’s going to admit their weakness while trying to sell themselves to an organization?

So how do we address what sales people should work on if we don’t focus on their weaknesses? Let’s discuss:

We need to transition from the “weakness” conversation and focus our attention to where sales teams need help or support. Some organizations utilize personality tests to find people’s strengths. More often than not, sales professionals do not have the tools or resources for them to become successful. It’s time that the “Coach ‘em up or coach ‘em out mentality” goes by the wayside. That very cliché phrase is an oxymoron. A coach is supposed to make someone better; not to create an agenda to get rid of them.

Let’s look at a baseball team to better understand the situation. A baseball team consists of 9 players with 9 distinctive roles. While out in the field, each player plays defense. Fast players with a strong arm usually play outfield while quick defensive players play infield. For example, look at the roles of a first baseman and shortstop.

Focus on Strengths Not Weaknesses

A first baseman is the perfect position for a left-handed player. Height is particularly important; a strong throwing arm is not. A first baseman needs to be able to concentrate, as he will potentially be involved in nearly every play.

A shortstop has more ground to cover than any other player does and must be fast, quick, agile and have a strong throwing arm. The shortstop will potentially field more ground balls, in more off-balance positions, than any other player. Can you imagine David Ortiz (Big Papi) playing shortstop?

The “Coach ‘em up or coach ‘em out mentality” needs to go by the wayside.

Now comes the batting order. There is a reason why a player bats ninth and a player bats fourth. The number 4 (or clean-up) hitter is the best hitter on the team. Traditionally, spots 6 – 9 are for players with less hitting talent.

Not everyone on the team can be a clean-up hitter, pitch, play shortstop, or catch. It takes nine players to make up a TEAM. Yes, there’s batting practice, but the focus is not for the number 9 hitter to become a clean-up hitter. Can you imagine that if the number 9 hitter didn’t improve to become a clean-up hitter that they would be put on a performance plan? Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? But that’s what a lot of sales organizations do or at least that’s how they approach someone that’s not performing to “expectations.”

So in conclusion, hire people based on their strengths and what unique skill set they bring to your organization. Focus on your people’s strengths. Provide the tools and resources necessary for them to become successful and see what happens! Focus on Strengths Not Weaknesses.

Greg Hahn

Greg Hahn is known for entrepreneurial vision and translating vision into revenue generation and productivity, thriving in a diverse and fast-paced executive environment. Throughout his sales management career, he has led several sales teams toward positive growth. His most recent accomplishment was with The Blue Book Network. In just two years, he was able to reverse an under performing region to one of the top regions in the company in 2015. Greg specializes in online marketing including website consulting, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and social media marketing.


Mark Powell · March 29, 2017 at 11:08 pm

Solid analysis. I call weaknesses opportunities. If you are discussing “opportunities”, the person receiving feedback will be more responsive to what you have to say. The word weakness already implies a negative conversation. Managers have to remember, I hired them for a reason. If you can’t remember why, ask them.

    Greg Hahn · March 30, 2017 at 10:33 am

    Thanks for the feedback Mark. Great point!

Stacey Bethea · March 18, 2018 at 10:57 am

An impressive share! I have just forwarded this onto a colleague who was conducting a little research on this.

And he actually bought me breakfast due to the fact that I
discovered it for him… lol. So let me reword this….
Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending time to talk about this issue here on your blog.

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