The Coaching Effect Blog

The Coaching Effect Blog

    Sales Leaders: Do you have the guts to change when times are good?

    by Bill Eckstrom / June 5, 2014

    Bill_Eckstrom_Headshot_2014_sThough cliché`, change is hard.  And, change becomes even more difficult when times are good.  It’s easy to change when things are going south, when numbers aren’t being met, but by then it is too late.  Consider moving your team into complexity when times are good.  That is the test of a progressive, high performing coach.

    Think for a second…  Why is it, when it comes to sales people, management wants to know everything?  They want to know where they’ve been, whether or not they are meeting with existing clients, and have they had enough meetings with new logos?  Sales leaders, at a glance, want to know the number of meetings sales reps have held, the specific stage in the sales process, and certainly what they are forecasting to close.  For the most part, sales reps are trained to all the above and if they don’t execute against their key performance indicators (KPI’s), many have elaborate “development” programs to get them back on plan, or they are fired.  Very simple to understand and challenging to execute, but that’s just the way it is.

    Hey, wait a minute…  What about the management team?  Where have they been?  Have they been meeting with top producing reps or spending their time with cellar dwellers?  Have they spent enough time in the field helping reps succeed or are they spending too much time in home office meetings?  Are they helping reps acquire new logos or are they spending too much time “shaking hands and kissing babies” with existing customers?  Are they meeting their key performance indicators?  Are they even measured by KPI’s?  Are they building their bench strength?  Hmmm, this certainly sounds like an environment set up for success (insert sarcasm here).

    Sounds ridiculous, and to be blunt I’ll refer to it as ludicrous. 

    Sales are good, right?  Reps are producing, goals are being met and money is being made.  Morale is good, the board is happy and you had the most productive sales meeting since pre-recession.  You are back in a hiring mode, sales ops and the training department have also been hiring to keep pace with your need to develop sales people.  You even did some coaching training with your management team for it has now become a big buzzword and it must be the thing to do.   

    All is well.  And though you give lip service to the phrase “we are always evolving”, nothing has really been done that has made the management team uncomfortable for quite some time, and without discomfort growth will eventually come to a halt.  But, you will wait.  You will stay comfortable until sales begin to decline and only then will “changes be made”.

    No guts.  Poor business move.

    If sales leaders want sustainable performance (doesn’t everyone?), than disciplines need to be in place that allow managers to drive performance.  Today, sales leaders just “hope” managers are doing what they should to get the results.  What a horrible way to run a sales team.  If you want to implement and sustain growth, then utilize the following coaching process:

    Measure—create an objective baseline of how well your team is coaching.  There is no way to know if you are improving without understanding how well your team coaches today.

    Educate/train—understand how coaching impacts a team’s performance, the high pay-off coaching activities, how to execute them, how often to execute them and how to be effective in their execution.

    Implement/track—a plan to take what’s been learned and how to make it stick in the field, then track to make sure managers are compliant to the coaching method.

    Analyze—what is working and not working.  Are managers spending 70% of their time with the bottom 30% of producers?  Are they helping and coaching reps on how to acquire new accounts?  Are they helping at all with your key accounts?  Are they able to challenge your top producers or are they just leaving them alone?

    Change—data leads to information and information can lead to game changing decisions.  Sales performance decisions.

    Measure—do it again.  Did managers improve the past year?

    There are now ways to know more about a sales management team than ever before, performance changing information at one’s finger-tips if leaders involve the right disciplines, training and technology.  But, it will be disruptive.  If one were to follow the above, they will now see that some management personnel are not in the right role or certainly are not executing to the best of their abilities, and to know that means something has to be done.  Training departments are going to have to learn new methods, and senior sales leaders are going to have some tough conversations with those whom they personally promoted to a management role.  However, to not know these objective results keeps senior leaders in blissfull, naïve` darkness.  They can just assume since goals are being met that managers are doing their job.

    It’s there, right in front of you.  Are you going to do what’s comfortable or what’s best for your team?


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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 the 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."

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