The Coaching Effect Blog

The Coaching Effect Blog

    Frontline Sales Leaders: Take a Lesson From Chick-fil-A

    by Anna Schott / March 7, 2016

    Photo by Hattie Kingsley Photography

    It’s a dead giveaway. Wandering eyes, disengagement and poor multitasking skills. Sales people are not oblivious when their manager, or “coach” as we call the role, is paying more attention to what’s going on with their smartphone than anything else right in front of them.

    We’ve all encountered this rude habit maybe with a friend or family member. Maybe we’re out to eat or catching up over coffee when the other person is glancing at his or her phone every other couple minutes or worse, actually responding to a text or email while nonchalantly acting like him or her is still “fully” engaged with what’s going on.

    Chick-fil-A franchise owner, Brad Williams, took notice of the habit at home and in his restaurant so he stepped in giving customers the option to place their phone in a small, square box (the coop) on each table. If they place their phones in the box for the duration of the meal, without retrieving it when buzzing or ringing, then they pass the challenge and receive a free Chick-fil-A Icedream – otherwise known as icecream. Full article about this incentive can be found here.

    This implementation is mainly focused on families, but if you ask me adults are just as bad. Heck, I’m even a millennial and I think we take cell phone usage to a new extreme. Obviously we’re adults, busy ones at that, and don’t need incentives to stay off our phones, but sometimes I wonder if we do.

    Extensive research has been done by Dr. Clifford Nass of Stanford University finding that heavy multitaskers actually get less accomplished when multitasking. The tasks we simultaneously check off our lists are unfortunately not being done at the quality level they could get done at because heavy multitaskers are slower at filtering out irrelevant information when being blasted with too much at one time. This becomes problematic when it turns into a habit and lackluster performance is the result or lack of presence and ingenuity become the norm.

    One solution to hyper cell phone usage comes from EcSell Institute President, Bill Eckstrom, who recommends the frontline sales leader forewarn the sales person that he or she is expecting an email, call or text that will need to be attended to promptly. Or if something unexpected occurs during a 1:1 interaction, simply be honest that the current situation happening at that moment needs greater attention for however long that may take. Other blogs outlining the importance of 1:1's can be found here or here.

    Another solution to this multitasking trend is turning the notification settings off on your electronics. Pick and choose 2-3 apps that are critical that you need notifications from. More than that and it becomes chaotic and complex. Also, turn off any chat options or instant messaging options internally when possible. Yes, it’s important to be available to your team, but there also needs to be clear boundaries when it comes to our mental health. 

    Bottom line: People matter (watch this Management Minute covering this topic here). The sales person in a 1:1 matters, or the friend or family member we’re having a chicken sandwich with at Chick-fil-A matters. It comes down to how serious we want to get about taking the proper steps to conduct not only an effective 1:1, but also build a stronger relationship which is known to increase performance and sales. Without properly executing this activity it's difficult to reach the level of success and productivity that “could happen.”

    So put down the phone and be present. Present enough to hear out that sales person and coach them in a meaningful, progressive manner.

    “It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.” – Tom Hanks, A League of Their Own

    - - - - -

    Want more sales coaching research, best practices and industry trends sent directly to your inbox? Then sign up for our monthly Sales Coaching Newsletter.


    previous post How Often You Should Meet With Your Sales Reps
    Next Post 7 Feedback Tips that Get Results with Gen Y
    Anna Schott

    Anna Schott

    Anna Schott served as Ecsell Institute's Director of Marketing.