Sales Coaching Blog

The Role of the Sales Coach

Posted by Bill Eckstrom

December 9, 2009

bill eckstrom

Sales Coach Defined:  The ability to consistently get a person or a team to produce at a higher level because of your involvement.

Watching college football's "championship weekend" again got me thinking.  College football always gets me thinking about coaching and productivity...why can Charlie Weiss run an offense (I've been told he's an offensive genius), but can't get an entire team to produce at a high level?  How can Nebraska's Bo Pelini take a team with a losing record and turn them into a nine win team for two consecutive years?  How about Bob Stoops at Oklahoma?  You can find examples in not only athletics, but business.  Think about what Lee Iacocca did at Chrysler many years ago, Jack Welch at GE, and so on.

In athletics we refer to them as a head coach, but they also lead the team.  In business, and specifically sales, they have titles such as CSO, Sr. V.P. Sales, Executive VP Sales, National Sales Manager, etc.  But just as in athletics, in order to maximize the productivity of your teams, they better have the ability to coach along with their ability to lead.  Head coaches can't afford to be one dimensional; they must posses the ability to move an entire team to a higher level and the senior person in charge of the sales department must do the same. 

Up to this point, EcSELL has always recognized sales "coaching" as critical to success, but have considered it a component of sales "leadership".  And, while I still consider great sales leaders to have good coaching skills, Patrick Sweeney, the President of Caliper Corp, is helping me understand the personality trait differences between leaders, managers and coaches (we'll be going in-depth at our April Summit).

EcSELL will begin to change how we describe our findings as to what is critical to sales department productivity and will add coaching to the foundation of our 6 Pillars.  So, from this point going forward-Leadership, Management and Coaching are the foundation on which the 6 Pillars reside.  Said another way, it is the way we lead, manage and coach within the 6 Pillars that determine the productivity of our sales teams. 

Like Charlie Weiss, I could be an expert at understanding and even perhaps recognizing sales skills, but it doesn't mean I'm effective at getting a sales person to perform at a higher level.   We need the Bo Pelini's to get the individuals to perform at a higher level, and hence produce better sales team results.

Topics: New Leaders, Teamwork, Sales Management Summit, Leadership & Management, EcSELL Institute, Pillars, Executives, Sales Management, coaching, sales leadership conference

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