Sales Coaching Blog

The X Factor at Work: A Recent Example of Coaching

Posted by Bill Eckstrom

November 1, 2011

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Though we may re-name this particular driver of team performance, the “X Factor” name does not insinuate an intangible or that we don’t know what it is, for the fact we have identified this characteristic in great coaches makes it very tangible. 

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Let’s re-visit the Sales Performance Equation for review…  The purpose of this equation is to understand the drivers that can be affected by anyone in a sales management role.  It doesn’t matter if you coach coaches or coach sales reps—these are the levers you can pull to affect outcomes. 

Another way to think about performance is to view the pyramid below.  Everyone yearns for the zenith of performance, but many sales managers hinder their team’s performance with the preponderance of their resources going to implementation and constant consideration of management tools, processes and technologies. Sales managers acknowledge the impact of leadership and other “intangibles”, but since they are not perceived as quantifiable our profession tends to ignore growth in these advanced behaviors and skills.  Management tools and processes, while critically important, can hinder team performance if there is no consideration given to improving our leadership acumen.  And, without the proper leadership behaviors in place it is challenging to be effective at X Factor coaching.

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X Factor Coaching in action:

Jay Daily is an EcSELL Institute member who is a VP Sales and works with a very large construction company in Birmingham, AL.  Jay has been very active in the EcSELL community and regularly attends our Leadership and Coaching Summits.  As a result of his attendance he has developed a relationship with many EcSELL members as well as most everyone on the EcSELL team.  I consider him more than a colleague, but also a friend.    Jay’s ability to create these relationships is part of what makes him a highly effective leader.  At EcSELL, we respect Jay and his strengths for many reasons, not the least of which are his intellect and willingness to invest in others.

The final morning of our last Leadership and Coaching Summit, EcSELL’s sales manager, Will Kloefkorn, opened the day with a 30 minute address.  Will is a young talent and is working hard to grow his skills on every level.  He has a desire to become a top notch presenter and carries an intense desire to improve.  Like most professionals who address an audience, Will spends countless hours laboring over his presentation. 

If any of you reading this have given many public speeches you can empathize with Will and his presentation, which was good and came off without a hitch.  However, if you’ve done this you also understand you hold your breath for the written reviews which we ask our attendees to complete on every Summit presenter.  Will’s came back with good marks, but he wants consistently great marks.  There were the usual comments “good young talent”, “Will is really growing”, etc., comments that are nice to read, but nothing that provides him direction on how to improve.  And then there was a review that began with a positive comment and said

“You tackled a tough, tough subject. Organize your take away into three bullets. Yours was lead by example, be humble, live by the formula. Start and end with these points…”.

And then, next to his review were the words

“Will, call me please.  Jay Daily"

Jay gets it.  Jay could have done nothing.  Jay could have filled in the review without comment or simply provided something positive and nice to read, but nothing constructive.  And, while Jay did write some nice things, because of the relationship he had previously developed with Will (leadership) he created the opportunity  and took action to help someone take their game to a new level (X Factor coaching).  As a result of this exchange Will and Jay have visited, and I guarantee Will’s next presentation will be more refined.

The above example sounds and is simple—powerfully simple.  But, think about the following:

  • Do you have a leadership relationship with everyone on your team that allows you the opportunity to help them progress towards their goals?

  • Do you understand the professional and personal goals of everyone that reports to you?

  • When was the last time you took advantage of a teachable moment with someone on your team?

  • When was the last time you let a teachable moment get away because you were “too busy”?

  • At the end of the year will your #1 producer stand up and say “I couldn’t have done it without my manager…”?

Topics: collaborative leadership, Sales Coaching Summit, sales leadership, executive sales management, Leadership Culture, Leadership & Management, Sales Management, coaching

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