The Coaching Effect Blog

The Coaching Effect Blog

    Sales Leadership: The Top Ten Performance Limiting Comments

    by Bill Eckstrom / September 18, 2014

    Bill_Eckstrom_Headshot_2014_sThe words one uses can tell you about their behaviors.  Not all the time, but they do shed some light on coaching performance and sales team motivation.  This morning finds me in a very candid mood (perhaps our Summit presenter, Jim Keenan  from A Sales Guy Inc., had some affect on me yesterday).  As a result I want to share some of what bothers me with the following quotes.  These are actual quotes from sales leaders (not EcSell members), and if we are honest with ourselves we will likely see our own behaviors or words within these quotes—I have even been guilty of some.

    Bottom line: every sales leader wants to grow sales, they want to maximize performance of their teams.  But, when I hear the following comments, much is revealed about why performance is limited (why the average tenure of a sales leader is now 19 months).  Why, even though you may hit your sales goal, sales are being left on the table that competitors are quickly snatching up.  I have followed each comment with my own dialogue.

    1. “We need to hire someone with industry experience”
      Though they may not admit it, this screams that experience is more valuable than talent or skill.  Your market, industry and products can be learned by most anyone-especially gifted sales people.  Talent to sell cannot be taught.
    2. “I am a data driven person”
      Really?  I am a people driven person.  What people do, produces data.  So, though I very much like data, like to review data, need data, the proper sales management data should paint a picture of how individuals and teams need to be coached. 
    3. “We are a data driven company”
      See #2.  Also, do you think new hires would rather work for a “data driven” company or one that says they are “people driven”?
    4. “My managers are too busy to do coaching”
      Interesting…  If they are not coaching, then how are they driving performance?  Coaching is not just an interaction, coaching comprises all the tasks, duties and behaviors that move the sales needle.  If they are too busy to execute the high pay-off coaching activities, then your teams are underperforming. 
    5. “Pipeline reviews produce great sales results”
      No, they do not.  At least not through the eyes of the sales rep.  Our research finds no correlation between pipeline reviews and motivation to sell more stuff.  Pipeline reviews may help management predict revenue, but they are not what motivate a sales rep to sell more. 
    6. “We haven’t done any sales manager training”
      So, the role that is proven to have the greatest impact on how a sales team performs and they have not been given the resources to succeed?  Yup, makes great sense…
    7. “My senior reps don’t need coaching”
      Yes, they do.  Science shows they still want and need coaching, they just want to be coached differently. 
    8. “My top producing reps don’t want my managers around”
      First of all, kudos for even knowing this for it shows great awareness.  However, it also says your managers bring no value to the rep relationship.  In a few words, it says they basically stink as a coach. 
    9.  “What is most important to our sales reps is removing obstacles for them”
      Knowing this means you asked.  Well done.  However, if you heard this from your team you were greatly misled.  Sales reps don’t know, from a coaching perspective, everything they need to maximize their abilities.  So, while “removing obstacles” is a common response, they are not going to say to you “push me”, or “make me uncomfortable”, or “have me do things I’m not used to doing”, or “create healthy tension between us”, or “remove the obstacles in my head”. 
    10. “I don’t know how my managers spend their day”
      Of course you don’t, for you don’t track it.  You also don’t know if your managers are effective, for you don’t measure it.  The most critical role on your sales team and you know nothing about what makes them productive or not productive. 

    10 items to think about--10 statements to ponder.  If you view your managers as a means to grow sales, make sure they have all the education, training and tools so these types of remarks can be eliminated, AND DON’T FORGET TO MEASURE RESULTS! 


    Want to teach sales managers how to become world class sales coaches?  Come to our Sales Coaching Summit in Scottsdale, May 2015.

    Want to learn more about effective sales coaching?  Download this free e-book

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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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