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Why are some sales professionals with a talent and ability for sales not reaching their full potential? The same could be asked about sports professionals, when asking: “Why are some individuals gifted at sport not thriving at elite level?”

A lack of distinguishing personality traits could help to explain why. And how much is psychological? In this blog and video we explore how as coaches we should be focusing less on process and more on building character in order to get the best results. Below we will tell you why this is important, and how you can do this with your teams.


Character goals allow us to strengthen a part of a person's character in order to achieve better results

Examples of character goals for sales reps are like the 20 distinguishing personality traits of the most successful high-performing athletes. Some of these include self-confidence, strong sense of motivation, self-discipline, and willingness to take criticism - you can see the full list here. Sporting legends like the infamous basketballer Michael Jordan and tennis superstar Rafael Nadal are great role models for this.

Performance consultant Bret Ledbetter talks about two types of character traits to explore:

  • Performance (this is the character that defines your relationship with yourself). These are the things that wake you up super early to go to the gym.
  • Moral (this is the character skills that govern your relationship with others). These things make you a great teammate and friend.

PerformanceSo, why are we listing these characteristics? And how can character goals make the difference to our results?

Ledbetter explores this exercise and studies US top basketball coaches as a great example; see his Ted Talk on Building your Inner Coach. He explains after interviewing top coaches that they all have the following in common: “They focus less on the result, more on the process, but they recognize that character is what drives this process.” He goes on to say that “success can be found in your daily agenda.”

He, and we, firmly believe that we need to focus on what we can control - not the result. Therefore, if we use our energy to focus on the process, this will help us achieve our goals. However, the key here is to understand what is driving the process? And the answer to this, is your character!

Great coaches’ coach with the end in mind. This is divided into three-parts: Character - Process- Result (CPA). First, they look at the result the rep needs to achieve. Then, they will move to the process - how am I going to make this happen/ what is my plan? Then, the character - what are the character skills that I need to develop to help me develop?

CHARACTER...PROCESS...RESULTAre you over-prescribing when you need to pay more attention to character?

Look at this common sales scenario of how to teach the CPA method:

Imagine you have a sales rep under-performing. They keep missing meeting targets - ‘the result’. You prescribe more ‘process’, more dials, more emails, more call training. However, what if the heart of the issue is that the rep fears the rejection and needs to work on building resilience - ‘the character’. If you are not working on that character goal, all the training goes to waste. Therefore, as a coach, we can start with identifying character goals.

How can we help a sales rep identify their own character goal?

Start with the same approach as above and ask the rep to pick their top ten performance and moral character traits. Then, focus on the one the rep is struggling with the most about a scenario they are having problems with. In our example, it is a lack of resilience.

each team memberHow to introduce character goals to your weekly 1-1s

We like to coach this character training by using TPA - Talk, Practical, Actions:

TPATPA would encourage you to talk about the character goal in your meetings. If the character goal was confidence, questions like the following can open the conversation of self-analysis and discovery:

How did you feel on the phones this week?

What did you do that you thought was good?

When did you feel your confidence was knocked back and why?

Just by having those conversations, we can release any tension that they might have behind talking about it.

Getting practical involves encouraging them to research or do anything that is going to help improve their character trait. Focusing time on this every day to work on their character is so important, as this is their fuel to reach their goals.

Finally, action means what you are going to do with your team to turn the goals into reality. It is important to not put a deadline or target on working on character performance. Reaping the rewards for this may take much planning, doing, and time over the long haul.

If you’ve enjoyed this blog and want to delve deeper into learning about sales coaching and character goals, you can watch our video here. You can also try the following exercise out with your teams:

  1. Ask your teammates to pick the top ten performance and moral character traits they value most.
  2. Then look at your list and rank in order what character traits they struggle with the most.
  3. Finally pick just 1-character trait from your list to work on in your team and 1-2-1 conversations.
  4. Let us know how you get on!


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