The Coaching Effect Blog

Sales Coaching: Tips from a Motorcycle Club

Posted by Stacia Jorgensen

November 25, 2014

In our blogs, the EcSell team talks a great deal about how to improve your sales leadership and coaching skills. The longer I study the field of sales coaching, the more I am amazed at the far-reaching applications of this discipline.  Whether in your one-on-one meetings with your sales reps, parenting, or leading your motorcycles club, being an effective coach is critical to your success as a leader.  Yes, I just said that sales coaching and motorcycle clubs (at least in Hollywood) are connected. Here’s how:

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Topics: Best Practice

The Importance of Giving Thanks: How Gratitude Drives Effectiveness

Posted by Sarah Wirth

November 25, 2014

This time of year always reminds me to be thankful.   Thankful for my husband and our two beautiful sons. Thankful that I get to do work I love with bright people around me. Thankful for old friends far away and new friends close by. Thankful that I will get to spend the holidays with my family. Yes, Thanksgiving is always a great time to remember things for which you are grateful, but is giving thanks something you do regularly? If not, consider why you should.

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Topics: Best Practice, Engagement, Motivation

The Sales Skills Audit: A New Kind of Performance Review

Posted by Sarah Wirth

June 11, 2014

Almost every sales manager hates doing performance reviews.  And why wouldn’t they? Most of the time, they’ve been handed a form from their human resources department that isn’t specific to sales and that forces them to write long paragraphs of feedback about areas that may not be relevant to achieving success in their role. 

Moreover, after so much writing, each review starts to feel and sound the same, so the managers question how much value they are even adding through the review process.  This is why EcSell Institute recommends a new kind of performance review for a sales team – the sales skills audit (see form here: Sales Rep Annual Skills Audit (Performance Review).

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Topics: Best Practice, growing sales, Performance Review, coaching sales people, coaching sales reps, feedback

Sales Coaching Tip: Using Questions for Better Coaching

Posted by Sarah Wirth

May 14, 2014

One of the most important sales techniques we teach our new sales reps is how to ask good questions.  There are so many reasons why questions are important in the sales process.  They help us uncover customers’ needs.  They help us learn about the customer’s business.  They help customers self-diagnose their issues and how we can help solve them.  And a great questioning process can create customer buy-in for a solution before we even suggest it.  Simply stated, knowing how to ask questions and follow-up accordingly is one of the most important lessons a salesperson can learn.  So why do we so quickly forget that lesson when we move into sales management?

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Topics: Best Practice, joint sales calls, coaching sales people, coaching sales reps, feedback

Just Do It: The Importance of Sales Coaching

Posted by Sarah Wirth

April 30, 2014

At EcSell Institute, we have the honor of talking with sales managers day in and day out about the coaching of their sales teams. Based on hundreds of these kinds of conversations with sales managers, it’s clear that most sales managers have a good handle on the best practices that they SHOULD be doing to better develop their team members. 

One-to-one meetings, documented feedback on sales skills, de-briefing joint sales calls – all of these are among the most critical activities they believe help drive their team’s success.  Which is why most execute these activities to some degree.  However, most sales manager will also admit that they do not do these activities as consistently as they should and probably not as effectively as they could. So that begs the question, if most sales managers agree these activities are critical to their team’s success, why don’t they execute them well?

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Topics: Best Practice, coaching sales reps, coaching, Sales leader time management

The Manager's Role on an Effective Joint Sales Call

Posted by Sarah Wirth

March 19, 2014

What can a sales manager do to make their rep a superstar in the eyes of their customer?  The answer is simple – play an effective role when they join them out on the road.  A manager doing a joint sales call with one of their reps can either frustrate and undermine the rep or they can perfectly position them to succeed in front of the customer.  Read on to learn how pre-call plans can help a manager contribute most effectively to the success of a joint sales call.

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Topics: Best Practice, coaching effectively, front line sales managers, Pre-call coachng session, coaching sales people, sales coaching

Sales Manager Training: 4 Critical Elements to Performance

Posted by Kerstin Olson

October 31, 2013

Think for a moment about the amount of training and development that your organization provides sales people.  Now think about how much is provided to the sales leadership team.  My guess is you will find about a 10:1 ratio of time in favor of sales people—a sad reflection of how organizations treat their sales leadership. 

Sales people are not more critical than sales leaders and they certainly don’t have greater developmental needs.  Actually, I could argue, with supporting research that there is a bigger performance gap to close teaching sales managers how to coach versus teaching sales people how to sell. 

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Topics: Best Practice, Sales manager training, executive sales management, sales manager coaching, coaching, talent identification & acquisition, top performing sales organizations

Do more and meet less

Posted by Sarah Wirth

October 10, 2013

“Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”  This adage was first
written by Cyril Northcote Parkinson in a 1955 essay, so it has come to be known as Parkinson’s Law.  It’s a relatively simple concept – that work will take as long as you allow it to take
– but one that is profound when you consider how true it is.  And I don’t think that there is any activity where Parkinson’s Law is more evident than business meetings. 

We all know the grind of having a calendar full of meetings.  There are so many important things on our to do lists – coaching our reps, responding to customer needs, putting together plans to grow our sales, etc. – that the last thing many of us want to do is sit through yet another hour long meeting.  Typically, that’s not because the information shared or things  discussed in business meeting are unimportant.  On the contrary, the content shared is typically very relevant to us and our work.  No, what frustrates us and makes us dread the meeting is that we also know that much of the time will be wasted on unnecessary discussions, debates and redundant information. Meetings per se are not bad, but how they are conducted often is.

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Topics: Best Practice, New Leaders, Planning, sales leadership, Motivating Sales Team, Performance Review, Motivation, Teamwork, one on one meetings, Adaptive Leadership, Success, sales rep peformance, Leadership & Management, collaboration, professional development, assessment tools, top performing sales organizations, time management

Sales and Athletic Coaching: A Common Sense Comparison

Posted by Bill Eckstrom

October 3, 2013

When discussing sales performance, sports analogies may be cliché`, they may be sexist (less so these days), they may even get old for some, but they are generally spot on. 

Let’s face reality, the duties and behaviors of a sales manager are not nearly as visible as the duties and behaviors of a coach in athletics (just ask Nebraska football head coach Bo Pelini who’s tirade of 2011 was recently blasted throughout the social media world). Although, when compared to business an athletic coach’s success is measured similarly, wins/losses. A sales manager is held accountable to performance against plan, hitting a number—a sales coaching version of wins/losses. Beyond this is where the parity begins to collapse.

The purpose of this blog is to bring attention to how advanced athletic teams are versus sales teams when it comes to coaching and performance.     


In athletics, there is a huge emphasis on practice, where coaches continually exercise precise execution. The practice to game ratio in athletics differs from high school to college and then professional, but the point is still the same—way more practice time versus game time. In collegiate football, during the football season, there is approx. a 10:1 ratio of practice time versus game time and the spread becomes greater in professional football.

In sales, there is very little time spent practicing or preparing for sales appointments with prospects and customers. There may be “sales training” when one begins their role with a company that educates on products, services, markets and perhaps a specific sales methodology, but the tendency is to then act like a finished product with little on-going skill development. 


In athletics, both practice and game time performance is filmed, analyzed and objectively graded by coaches.

In sales, practice and game time performance by sales people (sales calls) are infrequently analyzed and rarely graded objectively. 


In athletics, each player has an individual development plan that identifies areas for growth with measurements of progress that coaches are held accountable for executing.

In sales, selling activities are the typical measurement with little development of the skills or progress measurements that lead to sales effectiveness, and only a small percentage of sales departments hold coaches accountable for execution of development plans.


In athletics, there is a documented plan/strategy for every game.

In sales, not often is there even a documented “pre-call” plan or strategy when going into a sales setting.


In athletics, coaches can’t “play the game”, and by default must only coach.

In sales, our research shows that too often managers take over a sales call, thereby continue to “play the game” as opposed to teaching sales people “how to fish”.


In athletics, the coach is not just one who helps players improve a skill-set, they are accountable for strategy, recruiting, training/development, and much more. Their ability to execute the above is very transparent to not only the team, but to all those who witness the team perform.

In sales, coaching is typically viewed as a verb—an action to help one improve their skills. The reality is most “sales managers” have responsibilities similar to an athletic coach, yet are not held accountable to the activities, tools and behaviors that lead to success—they are only accountable to an end number without even knowing how what they do impacts that number.  There is no visibility into effectiveness.


I’ve had many deliberate conversations with our executive members lately. During these informal conversations I show them what our research shows as the high pay-off coaching activities front line sales managers should execute against, with their sales people, that will consistently lead to more sales. I then ask them what percent of the time they would expect their managers to be spending in these activities, and with a couple exceptions the universal response is "70%-80%". I then asked what percent of the time their managers actually spent executing against these critical activities, again with a couple exceptions, the universal response was now "20%-35%". In athletics this would be unacceptable, yet in sales it is tolerated.

Which of the following three characteristics do your managers display to their team:

  1. A compliance officer making sure sales people execute against activities
  2. A super sales person who comes in and helps close deals
  3. A coach that perpetuates talent, recruits, strategizes, leads, employs the catalytic factor, develops skills and helps those on their team make progress to their goals

Anything other than the third response will produce a smaller number. That, I will guarantee.


Authored by:  Bill Eckstrom, President, EcSell Institute 


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Topics: Best Practice, sales leadership, Motivating Sales Team, Sales Manager Tips, sales manager, sales leader, sales manager development, Sales Management, sales management skills, coaching

Focusing on the mental game

Posted by Will Kloefkorn

April 4, 2013


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Topics: Best Practice, Engagement, sales coaching, professional development for sales management, Sales Management, ideas for sales leaders

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