Last night, my wife, son, and I settled in to watch yet another episode of The Voice on NBC. This has pretty much been part of our routine for the past three years. The two main reasons we gravitate to The Voice, besides the amazing musical talent, is that the show is an exemplary model for positive psychology and great coaching. In today’s world we are continually bombarded with a barrage of negative news and headlines in order to drive ratings; The Voice bucks that trend. I challenge you to watch an episode and look for any negative feedback. Now, that is not to say that constructive criticism does not exist, it should, but really pay attention to how the coaches work with their teams. It is overwhelmingly with a positive, yet challenging tone. When it comes to sales motivation, sales managers can learn a lot from the approach the coach’s exhibit on The Voice.
My favorite coach is Usher. There is some subjective nature to him being my favorite since I tend to prefer his music more than the other coaches, but what I really like about Usher is his ability to inject the catalytic factor with each individual on his team. The Catalytic Factor is one of the 3 elements of great coaching that all coaches, including sales coaches must possess to maximize an individual or team’s performance. Consider the following quote from Usher about his coaching style, "My style is more military than anything because I'm all about the preparation. My style is to make them understand the seriousness of the craft and that they have the very best opportunity to be the greatest -- or the worst -- depending on how you take it."
Now, Usher comes to the show with a proven track record and a wealth of experience, the same way you would expect a sales manager to have carried a bag with some success before he or she starts demanding excellence. But it is also very evident that he cares a great deal about each member of his team and shows it through his coaching interactions with them. He has great leadership. He also is very clear about expectations each team member is held accountable to executing against. He is a great manager. And through being a great leader and a great manager he gains the trust of his team to push them to levels of performance that they themselves did not believe they could achieve.
I particularly enjoy how he compares his coaching approach to the Military. We have a number of members at EcSell who have military backgrounds who would love this comparison as well. In my experience when I talk to sales leaders who have a military background they get really passionate about the importance of leadership and getting every ounce of effort from their teams. Common sense would dictate that this would be the case, but when you ask them why their answers are all very much in alignment, “because in the military if you don’t have great front-line leadership people die”. That is a point well taken. Is this approach a little dramatic for a sales leader or music coach to take? One could say that it is, but great coaches know that it is their responsibility to help individuals realize their full potential today, tomorrow, and twenty years down the road. Great coaches do not take that responsibility lightly. And great coaches set out to have a lasting impact on their teams.
In sales, there is no more critical position than the front-line sales manager. Our friend at EcSell and management guru Curt Coffman has famously quoted “the key to organic growth lies in the hands of the sales manager” and he is right. He also is a big promoter of the effects of positive psychology. So when you are on the lookout for great coaching, regardless of profession or industry, watch closely for the traits, characteristics, and commonalities that great coaches possess.
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Director of Business Development