Often times at EcSell Institute coaching summits and on sales calls I will hear senior sales leaders speak to the similarities between parenting and coaching sales people. Sometimes jokes are made at the sales reps expense, but it is light hearted and much to my chagrin generally these leaders are fair with their assessments. At times, sales people can be like children, and this includes me as well.
I was reminded of this point recently when I was doing some reading from my late grandfather, who was quite literally, the smartest and most profound person I have ever spent time with; he was also a college professor, the Nebraska State Poet, teacher of thousands of elementary schools students, and father of four children. During one of his interviews right before he passed, he was asked a question that very much applies to sales team motivation and how sales managers can motivate their sales people.
Question: What do you learn from children?
Answer: “It’s so easy to give a glib answer. There’s a temptation to just pull something out of your pocket. But I don’t like glib answers. I guess the most important thing I’ve learned from children – is that they are not born equal, not by any stretch of the imagination. That’s why education is so very important. Teachers have a responsibility to unearth every child’s potential. I want children to know that no matter where they are now, no matter where they were last year, no matter where they will be next year, education is the key.”
Sales people, like children, are by no stretch of the imagination born equal. This is one of the many reasons why the role of the sales coach is so critical. In order for every sales rep to reach their true potential, sales leaders have a responsibility to unearth that potential from their reps and from their teams. And like any parent would tell you, this task is not for the faint of heart. Like children, sales reps can have short attention spans, can be needy, make excuses, put their needs first, and I could go on and on, but I believe you get the point. In order to maximize sales team motivation sales coaches must truly teach each sales person on their team how to achieve their full potential as a sales professional.
Below are 3 recommended action items that will allow sales leaders to start coaching their reps to more performance:
1) Familiarize yourself with what motivates sales people to sell more. Just a hint – it is not your product or industry knowledge.
2) Check out more of our blogs which address how to execute effective sales skills audits of your sales reps.
3) Make sure that your view of coaching is expanded outside of simply the interpersonal relationship that takes place with your reps.
Nothing will compare to the joy of seeing your child reach their full potential. However, sales leaders that are able to have a similar developmental bias for their sales reps as they do their children will be the ones who exceed their number time and time again. Also, they will leave a lasting impact on a lot of lives!