The Coaching Effect Blog

Sales Coaching Thoughts

Posted by Bill Eckstrom

August 27, 2014

There is much I could write about this week in this sales coaching blog, so as opposed to focusing on a single topic, why not touch on several topics that motivated me this week…

-When I hear sales leaders say “our new hires need industry experience”, I immediately know they are limiting their team’s performance.  This comment says they place skill over talent--big mistake.  Skills can be taught, but talent cannot. 

Sales coaching involves giving up in order to get-If we are measured by what we are willing to give up in order to get what we want—my daughter gets this month’s award.   She is giving up her senior year in high school and all the wonderful experiences that go along with it, to train full time at a tennis academy in Florida.  Friends, team sports, local accolades, family, her Labrador, etc., will all be left behind this morning as she departs for an unknown period of time.  Sales leaders, what are you willing to sacrifice to help those on your team achieve higher levels of success?  I am tired of hearing the excuse “we are too busy…”, get over it, we all are!  It is a matter of prioritizing what is important, and nothing a sales manager does is more important, noble or productive as developing those on their team to achieve greater sales results. Everyone wants to hit goal, everyone wants to grow sales, but what are you willing to give up in order to get what you want?

-Two statistics I cannot get out of my mind:  Only 20% of existing managers have the talents to be great, and the average tenure of a sales leader is 19 months.  Both stats come from different, highly reputable research companies and both are highly disturbing.  The upside is we are beginning to know more about what managers do and don’t do that drives sales team success—the question is:  will sales leaders do it?

-A wonderful EcSell member, Bill Ross (Fiberon), informed me some time back that data, metrics, kpi’s are no longer what he needs to effectively grow his team.  He has reports, dashboards and spreadsheets coming out his ears.  What he needs and wants is information.  This was a great help as we created the ONE-UP Coaching Cloud platform, though data and hard metrics are now a by-product of executing coaching activities, it is the conversion of data/metrics to information that makes performance affecting changes possible.  Another wonderful member, Wayne Silverman (Dun & Bradstreet), added to this vernacular yesterday when he said the ONE-UP data provides insights that allow for sales performance increases.  Insights.  Another powerfully descriptive word that makes me thrilled to have colleagues such as Bill and Wayne.  Think about it… If our members provided the candor and feedback that drove the creation of ONE-UP, think what you are capable of if you ask those on your team more questions than you give advice.

-Computer issues drove us to the Best Buy Geek Squad a couple days back.  We had no intention of having them fix anything on a crashed hard drive, it was simply the required step in the process to get the laptop back to Asus for warranty replacement.  24 hours later we received a call from the Geek Squad saying it was a software issue that is causing our computer to go black screen and never boot, and instantly purchasing a warranty would allow them to fix it—wrong answer in so many ways. 

  1. According to our IT guy is was clearly evident it was not a software issue, but a hard drive crash.
  2. The computer was only 60 days old and still under manufactures warranty.
  3. They made my wife stay on hold and transferred her back and forth to differing departments for over 25 minutes—two different times their response was for her to purchase a Best Buy warranty.  Finally, after her getting terse, she was told they would sent the computer back to Asus for repair.

Now, while so many would blame the people on the phone, they are simply a function of how they are coached!  It is not the player, but the coach of the player that needs different behaviors/actions to impact the outcome of their team.  Whether it is identifying and acquiring better service talent to put on the phones or different training techniques and protocols, it is the coach (manager) who is accountable.  Do all the work you want with the front line, but the impact won’t be as significant unless you start with the management team. 

Coaching -College football begins this weekend—pretty big time of year in Nebraska.  If you care (which you should), focus on coaches and their words following the game.  “Our players didn’t execute”, “our players were not in the right spots”, “they didn’t communicate effectively on the field”, “we executed at a high level”, “we have a lot of work to do”, “we found a way to win”.  Not to beat the dead horse, but who owns all that?  Wouldn’t it be refreshing to hear a coach say to the media “all the shortcomings we had in this game are coaching issues”, or “how much we improve moving forward will be a direct result of how well we coach”.    

-Lastly, ask yourself this question: is someone on your team further along this week (a better producer, manager) as a result of your work with them?

-Lastly again, get out and explore how you can improve as a coach by coming to our Sales Coaching Summit in Dallas this October.  Or, in the spirit of the season, to learn the "blocking and tackling" of sales coaching, attend the Sales Coaching Academy the day prior to the Summit.


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