Last week was one of my favorite times of the year here at EcSELL Institute. We hosted nearly 100 of our members at our annual spring coaching summit. This year we gathered at the beautiful Dove Mountain Resort in Tucson, Arizona. Whenever we have a summit, I always enjoy the powerful presentations from our speakers, the good food, and the great surroundings. But what makes summits really special is the interaction with our members.
As the group got to know each other better over our three days in Tucson, I saw business cards being exchanged and ideas being shared. I witnessed people choosing to spend lunch breaks with new connections from other companies rather than sitting next to the colleagues they already knew. I overheard folks promising to get in touch with each other once they returned back to their offices. I saw our members building relationships with each other and, in turn, looking to each other for advice and ideas on how to improve their own sales organizations.
Watching all of these interactions reminded me of the theme of my own summit presentation – connecting is the first step to coaching. Simply stated, strong relationships are a necessary foundation for effectively leading and coaching others to top performance levels. And without personal relationships, we cannot establish the level of trust and rapport to allow us to effectively influence their success and career. Now this may seem like an obvious concept but ask yourself the following question – if you believe that personal relationships are essential for coaching people most effectively, why haven’t you created this level of relationship with every person you manage?
We discussed this question at length in our summit and the roadblocks to creating a personal relationship were numerous. Some sales leaders struggled with the physical distance between themselves and their reps. Others found it hard to find the time necessary to create a stronger relationship. And still others faced the very real obstacle of not enjoying spending time with particular members of their sales team. All of these obstacles to connecting with their sales reps are genuine, but yet the fact of the matter still exists… without having this strong connection, it is nearly impossible to coach reps to top performance levels. So what do you do when close relationships with some of your reps don’t come naturally?
In those instances, a process or a structure for deepening your connection with your rep is likely the best solution. While a more structured way of strengthening your relationship may feel a big awkward at first, oftentimes the structure helps people discuss needs and goals that they otherwise wouldn’t. A structured conversation can also speed up the process of connecting with a rep as well, especially when you are not able to be with them in person on a regular basis. Check out the Professional and Personal Goals Discussion (http://spps.community.ecsellinstitute.com/Docs/Best%20Practice%20Documents/Professional%20and%20Personal%20Goals.pdf) as a structure you can use to know your reps better.
Whether your relationships with your reps have developed naturally or you need to be more systematic in trying to create them, know that your investment to build stronger rapport is worth it. You simply have to have a trust relationship in place in order to coach your rep to the highest possible performance levels. And connecting is the first step to coaching.