My 10-year-old son is a tennis player. He absolutely loves the sport and works really hard at it. Recently, we were talking about the different coaches he has at his tennis club and I asked him which coaches were his favorites. When he gave me two names, I asked him why and his response was fascinating. He said, “I like them best because they push me. The other coaches are really nice, but they sometimes let kids mess around during practice.”
This answer made me smile because it showed me that even a 10 year old knows the difference between nice coaches and those that really drive performance. Just like a young tennis player, we have found that sales reps often prefer a coach that makes them work and improve. At EcSell Institute, we describe these “pushier” managers as having a higher Catalytic Factor (or C-Factor), that is, the ability to push their reps into a higher performance zone. Our EcSell Institute research team has dug into this topic, seeking to understand the difference between managers that possess a high C-Factor and those that do not. Using data from our Through the Eyes of the Sales Rep (TESR) survey, what we found was that High C-Factor managers were rated higher than all others.
What these higher overall ratings for High C-Factor managers tell us is that reps actually view their manager more positively when they feel that the manager is pushing and challenging them to perform at a high level.
There are many ways you can become a High C-Factor manager and challenge your sales reps to improve their performance. Some of the most effective ones we’ve found are:
- Documenting your feedback
Not only does it ensure clear communication of what reps need to do to improve, it also grabs their attention and lets them know you are serious about pushing them to get better.
- Role playing with them
Reps will often groan when you tell them you’re going to do a role play exercise, as it can be uncomfortable and challenging – basically, the very definition of a catalytic coaching event! While they may not be excited to participate, most reps also recognize that role plays do help.
- Giving them an assignment outside their comfort zone
Plan a purposeful, “stretch” experience for your reps. Partner with them on identifying the right type of experience, but look for something they may be reluctant to do at first.
As the data shows, sales reps value a coach who shares their drive for excellence and sees them as a more effective manager overall. Like my son said, “I like them best because they push me… I like the ones that make us work.”
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