Everyone in a leadership role should take the time to look outside of their own market for growth opportunities. There are so many ways we can grow from learning why and how others do things, for new development ideas can come from anywhere as long as we are bright enough to look and ask for them. As a result, I feel sorry for those who work for leaders who do not continually stretch their own minds and are open to new ways of growing sales.
Having said that, we should all take the time to dream, to think about the future, look for possibilities of what could be and not just what is.
The performance improvement thought I am about to share comes with a caveat--I have no research on the outcome within the sales leadership profession (which is usually bothersome for us at EcSell). It is simply a best practice that came from outside of our market, way outside of our industry. It is a discipline that is for those who don’t just desire peak performance, but by those who are willing to work harder and smarter than most all of their colleagues and competitors. Some sales leaders will read this and think “I’m just too busy”, while peak performing coaches will likely have a different reaction, one that says “how can I make this work for my team?”
I’ve written about this specific tennis academy before, for they are truly an organization and culture that promotes extreme performance. The coaches, similar to sales managers, have a clear role: develop the players to a level that is not otherwise attainable without the coach in their life. Said another way, a coach is to provide the structure, relationship and then complexity to maximize a player’s performance. This should sound familiar to anyone in a sales leadership role.
The coach to player ratio, on any given day, is approximately 5:1 (in sales, last I looked, the average manager to sales rep ratio was approx. 7:1). This is not critical to know, but just helping everyone understand the similarities. While the coaches meet informally all the time, there is a critical monthly meeting and it is the topic and outcome of this meeting that houses the performance genius. Each month the coaches get together and discuss each player’s development gains, their next opportunity for growth and a resulting action plan for each player over the next 30 days. That, colleagues, is simplistic brilliance.
They are not discussing the player’s next match, the tennis academy facilities or the pipeline of tennis players who want in the academy—all the coaching brains are discussing a single player and how to help them achieve the next level of performance. There are so many things that are right about this!
- Collaboration—the power of the collective is greater than that of any individual. So many performance inhibiting habits may be missed by one coach, but picked up by another. All coaches are weighing in on what they see as developmental opportunities.
- Strategy—many coaching minds discussing the “why and how” of what to do next, not just reviewing historical metrics on what went well or what went poorly.
- Action plan—use the collaboration and resulting strategy to change how they coach and how the player plays. Every coach is on the same page with the player’s development for the next 30 days.
Why not in sales? What if each quarter the front line manager sat down with a selective group within their organization, those that have interactions with the rep, and discussed what the rep needs to sell more? Can you imagine how much more would be sold if each rep had coaching that is consistent and specific to them?
In the sales leadership world we are not trained to figure out the developmental needs of those who report to us. We were trained to discuss deals, pipeline, forecast, activity, etc. What I am suggesting is so counterintuitive to what we’ve learned as sales leaders it will be hard for some to comprehend—which is another reason for our profession to quit acting like managers and begin acting like high performance coaches.
If one were to do this sales performance review, get a more robust understanding of each rep by including other sales managers, someone from service, sales ops, enablement, training & development, etc. The outcome from this strategic meeting should be a written plan for each of those on your team that has a single improvement item. Keep in mind it may not be a sales skill that a rep needs to achieve more, be prepared to help someone through a personal issue which can be just as likely to inhibit sales as someone who lacks great prospecting skills.
We are going to make this a reality with some EcSell members that are on the front side of the bell curve, some early adopters. We will track the managers follow through as well as the quality of the coaching, and correlate it all to sales results. Based on watching other high performing organizations that are not in the sales leadership profession leads me to believe this could work very well.
Am open to all suggestions to make this work well—how about a little help here…