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    What I Would Have Done Differently in my First Role as a Sales Manager

    by Bill Eckstrom / February 6, 2015

    “My biggest concern is that I’ll take a job with a company or go to work for a boss that doesn’t have the same emphasis on coaching and development like EcSell teaches”. 

    It’s working.  If my 22 year old recently graduated daughter recognizes the benefits of how great coaches impact not just performance, but overall happiness with a job, I figure our members must certainly get it.

    She’s moving to New York City in two days, and because I leave town tomorrow I had to say goodbye last night.  We had a lovely dinner, my wife, daughter and me; shared stories, drank a little wine and did everything I could to keep the conversation fun and not overly sentimental--not because I don’t like sentiment, quite the opposite.  I just didn’t want to look like a blubbering, crying idiot in the restaurant. 

    It’s easy to look back and know I did everything I could to help her become a strong young lady.  And, outside of being more patient at times, there are no regrets.  She achieves, is focused, driven, poised and doesn’t believe there is anything she cannot do (if you don’t believe me, just ask her).  New York doesn’t scare her, she sees nothing but limitless opportunity to pursue her dream in fashion. 

    If you or a member on your sales team moved on, for whatever reason, would you have the same sense of comfort you may have when your kids move on?  Could you look back and know you did everything in your power to help them develop their skills and grow their talents to the highest levels?  While easy to respond “yes”, knowing what I know now, there are certainly activities, behaviors and tools I would have utilized differently in my first role as a regional sales manager. 

    1. A more early adoption of knowing I own everything that impacts performance:  I not only owned the number, but everything that impacted our ability to hit the number.  Though I’m not sure how this could have occurred sooner in my role, it certainly would have more effectively shaped my behaviors.  As mentioned in previous blogs, my boss tried to tell me this, tried to help my understand this, but as my father always said, “Son, you certainly like to learn the hard way”.    
    1. A more balanced approach to spending time with my reps: I knew this was critically important, and I spent many days in the field each year with my reps, but it wasn’t a structured approach. At times I used geography as an excuse (I was in Lincoln, NE and had reps scattered from Seattle to Memphis), but it was an excuse. Truthfully, I went to the place where we had a big deal cooking, or to the reps who were producing at the highest levels (watching top performers in action has always enthralled me).  My actions were more reactive than proactive. There is no way it can be equitable, nor should it be, but there is a minimum amount each rep should receive that was not met.

    I’m sure that if given more thought the list could grow, but these are most top of mind.  However, there was much I was proud of in my first role and together our team accomplished a great deal.  We set new sales records every year and though proud of that, it was the relationships I formed and the lessons I learned that were most impactful.  My time with that amazing sales team laid the groundwork for our programming and coaching research that we execute today. 

    Due to winter storms, Claire’s flights were delayed 48 hours which allowed me to say goodbye one more time.  As she was preparing to walk out the door I wanted to be profound, for the moment to be memorable, so there should be something I can say to put a bow on the last 22 years, but I struggled to find the words, any words.  So I just hugged her and finally mumbled “I wish there was something I could say”.  She responded “Dad, for 22 years you’ve always said the right things, you don’t need to say anything right now”. I have no regrets.

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    Bill Eckstrom

    Bill Eckstrom

    William Eckstrom is the CEO and Founder of the Ecsell Institute. Bill has spent his entire career in the sales management and leadership arena. In 2008, he founded Ecsell Institute to fill a void he witnessed and personally experienced in the sales leadership profession. He's went on to present a viral TEDx Talk and co-authored the best-selling book, "The Coaching Effect."