The Coaching Effect Blog

Are You Motivated to Motivate?

Posted by Kathy Collins

November 13, 2014

Being a coach is not easy and on some days it can be quite exhausting. The trick is to keep your motivation for being a motivator! Sustaining motivation can be tough under the best of circumstances. 

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Topics: Motivating Sales Team

Sales Motivation: Coaching for a Happy Ending

Posted by Stacia Jorgensen

September 30, 2014

Today, I’m going to leave the research behind and talk about how I recently failed as a manager.  Don’t worry…this story has a happy ending.

I have a five-year-old daughter. She’s a glass-half-full kind of gal. She approaches everything in life with a positive attitude and smile on her face.  I can already peg her as the kind of person who really stops to smell the roses.  All that lollygagging to smell said roses birthed her nickname, Lolly.

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Topics: Motivating Sales Team

Coaching Conversations: Facilitating Growth Experiences

Posted by Sarah Wirth

September 24, 2014

In today’s blog, we will address the final component of our four-part series on coaching your reps’ mental performance.  This type of coaching drives the mental engagement of your team in order to keep their performance at its peak level.  As a reminder, in previous blogs, we introduced three key coaching principles that you can use to help improve your sales reps’ performance mentality. These principles are:

  • Creating relationships of trust with those you are coaching
  • Asking powerful questions to drive effective learning
  • Facilitating growth experiences for your team to maximize potential 

Today we are going to further explore the third mental coaching principle of facilitating growth experiences for your team to maximize their potential.

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Topics: growing sales, Motivating Sales Team, Complexity Theory, coaching sales reps

Sales team motivation: coach is the role

Posted by Will Kloefkorn

August 12, 2014

Do you think that switching a title could have an impact a sales team’s motivation – say switching from sales manager to sales coach?

I have been lobbying for sales departments to make this change for years. A while back I actually crossed paths with a VP of Sales who made this change a few years back and obviously we quickly became fond of each other. Naturally I was curious about what led him to make that change and his response made perfect sense, to me at least. He said, “I told my team that most everyone can manage, but very few can coach” which I agreed, but asked him to elaborate. To be concise, he went into detail about how in his experience he has found that many sales managers are very good at monitoring and reporting their reps activities and results, but very few of them are actually very good at teaching and coaching their reps how to get better at the activities that lead to favorable results. Very few are actually great at motivating their sales reps to sell more.

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Topics: Motivating Sales Team, sales coaching, sales management resources, sales team motivation

Sales team motivation: sales people can be like children!

Posted by Will Kloefkorn

July 18, 2014

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.

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Topics: Motivating Sales Team, sales team motivation, sales coaching methodology

Sales Team Development Meetings

Posted by Sarah Wirth

February 19, 2014

Like many of you, the EcSELL Institute leadership team has a weekly meeting where we discuss strategies, goals and progress. These team meetings help keep us on the same page, drive collaboration among different departments and ensure that we are focused on our shared priorities. Once a month, however, we dedicate our weekly meeting to a different purpose – our development as individuals and professionals. I have to confess this is the weekly meeting that I look forward to the most because it’s a chance to step away from the day-to-day work and invest in ourselves and each other.

EcSELL Institute research shows two of the most important things sales managers can do to motivate their reps is help them improve their selling skills and develop their careers. The reason these activities increase rep motivation is because people tend to be more engaged in their work when they are improving, learning and developing. And this is precisely why we as a leadership team dedicate two hours each month to our own learning and growth. That is, we all feel more energized when we’ve taken the time to consider a new idea or explore a different concept, so the investment of time yields a great return by amping up our engagement and motivation.

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Topics: sales leadership, Employee engagement, Motivating Sales Team, company culture, Adaptive Leadership, coaching sales people, coaching sales reps, professional development

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

Want to motivate your reps to perform? Just listen to them

Posted by Sarah Wirth

August 28, 2013

At EcSell Institute, we are constantly focused on learning more about the activities sales managers should be doing to better lead, coach and manage their reps.  Our members are facing numerous competing priorities, so figuring out which sales management activities have the biggest impact on the performance of their sales teams is essential.  To this end, we have been examining our Through the Eyes of the Rep survey results to understand the management activities with the highest correlation to reps’ motivation to sell more.

In examining correlations to increased sales rep motivation, we found three sales management activities with the biggest impact:  (1) effective one-to-one meetings between reps and their managers, (2) managers’ coaching of their reps’ selling skills, and (3) managers helping their reps reach their career goals.  In addition to these three sales management activities, we also found another important and surprisingly simple thing that sales managers can do to increase the motivation of their sales reps:  listen to them.  Listen to their ideas.  Listen to their concerns.  Listen to their goals.  Listen to their input.  Just listen.

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Topics: Engagement, Motivating Sales Team, Motivation, Discretionary Effort, sales coaching, sales rep peformance, coaching

Sales Technology versus Sales Coaching

Posted by Bill Eckstrom

August 16, 2012

 In the spirit of always keeping up with new ways to continuously help our members grow, I’ve been investigating a plethora of new high tech, start-up, venture funded, industry experienced, revenue producing, can’t miss technologies for sales departments.  Going through this exhausting and confusing exercise made me pause and reflect…

  • Why do organizations put so many resources against product development, but yet so few against talent development?

  • How much do sales teams spend on mobile phone bills and off-site meetings versus helping their sales leadership team become better coaches?

  • Why do people get promoted to management without an understanding of the activities and behaviors that drive results?

While most of the technologies I reviewed are likely worthy and can assist in providing information that can lead to better decisions, none of them are focused on improved  coaching behaviors.  For example, one can implement new technology that helps them understand and provide insights to cases in a sales pipeline.  You can accurately see where sales are progressing and stalling.  What one might learn is that deals are getting stuck at the decision making stage in a sales process, which may indicate that a rep may not have identified all the proper decision makers, which would also indicate the rep isn’t likely conducting the best needs analysis prior to getting to the proposal stage.   The message to the sales manager…  Go help your rep improve in those areas!

In the above scenario, is it a sales rep issue or a sales leadership issue?  Great sales leaders would take full accountability and responsibility, for they understand the performance of anyone on their team is a reflection of how they coach those on their team.  The challenge is that without the proper behaviors and tools, a sales manager won't likely know how to impact what was described in the previous paragraph.  And, what our research shows is that most sales managers would respond by taking a more active role in the sales process, as opposed to effectively helping the rep improve in those identified areas.

So, data is insignificant without knowledge of how to affect those from whom the data is derived.  Likewise, great coaches won’t know where and how to coach without accurate, meaningful data.  (here is where I shamelessly plug our Sales Coaching Summit for those who want to improve the way they coach.)http://www.ecsellinstitute.com/sales-coaching-summit-fall-2012?&t=65280

Conclusion:  Emphasize not just technology and data, but how to improve coaching behaviors that impact the numbers.  Understand that improving and hence, growing sales, is a journey and not a destination.  At no time would a sales leader ever think they’ve done all they can do from a technology stand point, and similarly one should never hit a point where they say “we’re done growing our coaching skills”. 

Lastly, remember the timeless phrase “if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten”.  Make sure there are resources and best practices dedicated to grow in technology and human behavior—not just one!

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Topics: Sales Coaching Summit, executive sales management, Motivating Sales Team, Accountability Coaching, Leadership Development, poor performing sales reps, EcSELL Institute Member, sales coaching, Leadership & Management, Sales Management, sales management skills, sales leadership conference, Resources for sales managers

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