In my last blog, I started thinking through some findings that we have pulled from our Through the Eyes of the Rep Survey (TTEOTR). If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you’re already familiar with this awesome element of the EcSell Institute. In order to remain current in our understanding of the world of sales coaching, EcSell is heavily invested in conducting high-quality, primary research. One of our longest endeavors to accomplish this goal is collecting experiences and opinions directly from sales reps through the TTEOTR survey. This survey not only provides our members with valuable insight into their sales rep teams, but it allows for valuable opportunities to gather an aggregate look at the views of sales reps.
I was recently looking at the results of a TTEOTR question asking reps if they would recommend their sales department to their friends as a great place to work. If you remember, I called this survey item the Booster Club question. High levels of agreement when asked if you would recommend your place of work to friends, or being a promoter for your employer, is a finding employers should work to achieve. To keep it simple, if your sales rep would recommend their sales department to friends, it means good things are taking place at the office.
I compared this data to a matrix question asking sales reps how important it is that their sales manager exhibits strong skills in a group of common characteristics. The characteristics include:
- Product knowledge
- Industry knowledge
- Helping you progress toward your career goals
- Coaching your sales skills
- Recognizing and rewarding achievements
- Driving accountability and selling activities
- Helping you devise a territory sales plan
Out of this group, only one characteristic emerged as statistically significant with the Booster Club: driving accountability and selling activities. I found this completely intriguing. Here at the EcSell Institute, we are confident in our comprehension of the impact a good sales manager makes on the work life and success of a sales manager. We can brush aside the non-significant findings for some of these. Product knowledge, industry knowledge, and helping you devise a territory sales plan…I’m looking at you guys. I’m guessing that most sales reps don’t go home at the end of the day and say, “You know, my sales manager completely ignored me again today but his/her understanding of the most minute detail of our new product just makes me jazzed about getting back on those sales leads tomorrow!”
But why doesn’t coaching your sales skills present as significant? After all, the essence of this item is what we eat and breathe here at EcSell. How can this not be significant? Are we missing the mark in our entire mission?
After much thought, I would strongly argue that this finding doesn’t come close to lessening the work that EcSell exerts. In fact, I think this one small finding highlights the importance of what we do. Briefly, here’s why:
I’m trained as a survey methodologist. What this means is that I have studied and have expertise in how to collect really good data. Part of this expertise centers on how to ask the right question. How many people you survey can mean absolutely nothing if the questions asked of those people miss the target. Think about it this way…what if I wanted to survey you about love. How do I conceptualize (picture in my mind) love? Would love mean the same thing to you as it would to a small child or a grandmother? I’m guessing what love is, or the concept of love, would be very different. Love is such an expansive, multi-faceted beast. What I would learn about love through a survey could be very different depending on what question I ask.
The more I think about it, I think the concept of sales coaching is also this species of multi-faceted beast. Sales coaching can mean different things to different people at different points in their lives. What pops into the brains of sales reps when this term can vary greatly and probably is very shaded by the quality of their current or former sales reps.
I could create a three hour lecture continuing this thesis, but here’s the nitty gritty. The term sales coaching can manifest itself as different things to different people. The successful practices that make a good sales coach, however, such as driving accountability, are more precise terms that resonate better with sales reps. My hypothesis is that this is why it is statistically significant here. While the umbrella term of “sales coach” is useful in many arenas, those who really wish to improve their sales coaching skills need to be aware of the many components of this concept.
To me, this is a great finding. Sales coaching is complex. The work that EcSell does to examine and act as a resource for those who really want to improve at tackling the sales coaching beast is needed. What the EcSell Institute offers is important and can help you tame the sales coaching beast.
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