Sales Coaching Blog

3 Ways Sales Managers Can Become Linchpins

Posted by Will Kloefkorn

March 6, 2018

Our jobs are not going away, but for the slightly above average worker, or any other worker who falls below that standard, the times ahead are going to be tough sledding. This evokes fear in today’s workforce, but not for those employees who Seth Godin calls linchpin’s. According to Godin, a linchpin “feels the fear, acknowledges it, then proceeds”. Embracing the new landscape of our changing business environment, and revamping one’s skill-sets to fit today’s business needs, is a prerequisite for success in today’s economy.

…[A linchpin] feels the fear, acknowledges it, then proceeds.” — Seth Godin

Our traditional education system and traditional business practices are ripped to shreds in this book. I loved the fact that Godin was not shy about going after these institutions because having grown up in a family of educators myself, and being the first employee of a start-up organization 10 years ago, my experience is in succinct alignment with Godin’s beliefs. To watch a fun video on this subject check out Prince EA’s take on youtube.

The passage in the book that most resonated was a section about how our traditional education model killed our ability to recognize and reward progress because of the allure and emphasis on perfection. Consider this following passage from the book:

“We’ve been trained since first grade to avoid mistakes. The goal of any test, after all, is to get 100 percent. No mistakes. Get nothing wrong and you get an A right? Read someone’s resume, and discover twenty years of extraordinary exploits and one typo. Which are you going to mention first? We hire for perfect, we manage for perfect, we measure for perfect, and we reward for perfect.”  — Seth Godin

Often, people sacrifice progress because they are afraid their early work won’t be perfect, and it’s not very surprising when you consider the passage above. Linchpin’s don’t do this. They recognize that perfection is simply something you strive for, knowing damn well you will never achieve it. Linchpin’s relish the joy of the journey, the process of building something, tearing it down, and rebuilding it until it’s right. Linchpins turn lots of micro successes and failures into macro achievement.

In book #4 of this challenge, we learned that “sometimes you win and sometimes you learn” is a motto that applies to high performers. Linchpin’s live this philosophy every day and according to Godin, successful people are successful for one simple reason: they think about failure differently than their peers. A linchpin believes that the road to becoming the ultimate winner is paved by the losses it took to get there.

In my last post, we talked about the power of failing forward, and this is exactly what linchpin’s do, they lose so that they can win! This type of mindset always makes me think of the famous Thomas Edison quote that goes like this I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. Do you have a mindset like Edison?  When your ideas don’t work do you view that as success and a reason to move forward and persevere? If so, you are likely a linchpin, if not, it’s time to start making progress to become one.

3 takeaways from “Linchpin” that apply to sales coaching

1. Eliminate "what if" disease 
Do you or those on your sales team have what I call “what if” disease? When you use the phrase “what if”, is it almost always followed by a negative connotation? For example: What if people don’t like my idea, what if this doesn’t work out what will people think, what if my spouse is not supportive, what if I’m not as talented as I think I am, what if I create more work for myself, etc. If this describes you STOP IT and watch this Bob Newhart clip that will hopefully allow you to not take things so seriously.
Linchpin’s do not have “what if” disease. Remember, they view failure as a good thing so their what if phrases are always followed with a positive connotation. I believe that “what if” disease is the fundamental reason to why sales people do or don’t take risks, why sales people do or don’t get started on simple tasks, and why they ultimately become a high-performer or just another non-linchpin.
Sales coaches must understand their sales rep’s psychology and emotions in order to enhance desired sales behavior and activity. If you are a coach, listen carefully to your sales reps in order to understand if they are suffering from “what if” disease. If they are, help them understand that   embracing failure is their recipe to becoming a linchpin , then work with them every week to eliminate the disease.
2. Communicate “change” as an opportunity 
The only constant is change,  it’s a phrase that is so old that it can be referred to as ancient, but it’s more relevant in 2017 than ever before. If this is the case, why do people fight it tooth and nail? Godin believes that it is because people have not learned the art of effectively seeking out discomfort to grow. This sounds familiar to a guy I know who had a   wildly successful Ted Talk on this subject   (shameless plug).

For sales coaches, this means first getting uncomfortable yourself by realizing that your ability to coach effectively is now more important than ever. Making the shift from a successful manager to a high-performing coach is the shift you need to focus on intentionally because coaching is no longer just a nice to have for today’s younger workforce,   it is a demand .
A linchpin in sales management is the coach that helps their sales people realize the full potential they have but do not yet see in themselves. Also, I learned a lot this week at   Selling Power’s sales 3.0   conference about Artificial Intelligence and how it is going to change the sales landscape forever moving forward. Change is coming on multiple fronts, and to adapt accordingly, sales managers need to be intentional about seeking out ways to frame change as an opportunity and not a threat. This will help themselves and their teams thrive in the future.
3. Get familiar with the science 
This has been, and will continue to be, an important theme moving forward with these reviews. Great leaders have great subjective intuition, but if they do not leverage and understand science in 2017, they will become naïve at best and irresponsible at worst. The sales management profession falls into the trap of focusing on skill development and deal coaching way too quickly. I’m not suggesting that those things aren’t important, but they are secondary to understanding the biology of how the human brain functions and what that means relative to every single sales person who trusts you to be their coach.
I’d suggest reading up on topics such as the lizard brain, predictive analytics, and AI to learn how to become a better coach. The best coaches are holistic when it comes to combining both the art of coaching and the science of coaching. This combination is not easy, but it’s the right thing to do for the people on your team.
After reading this book, it’s easy to understand that what got us to this societal point will not be what gets us to where we want to go as a society.  There are two types of people  in this world today and the contrast is stark:   1)  the type that looks out at the world and sees the rapid change as an exciting opportunity or   2)  the type of person who consciously chooses to hang on to the past at the expense of their own growth.   It’s not too hard to figure out who is the linchpin in those scenario’s, and it is the linchpin that will win the future —  choose wisely.

In his attempt to help individuals escape “The Matrix”, Tom Bilyeu, founder of  Impact Theory , has a reading list of 25 books which he recommends that everyone read to better understand how they can unlock their potential. Others have embarked on this journey and I have decided to join them by dedicating myself to reading a book per week for the next 25 weeks.  
Next Review: “Relentless" by Tim Grover


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Re:Think Sales Coaching

Posted by Anna Schott

October 6, 2015

As I looked up the speaker lineup for this year’s TEDxLincoln I became extremely hopeful that I would come out of the day Re:Thinking my community, my work and my world like the theme suggested. It turns out I did and one speaker in particular made me think about our clients and other front line managers who understand and execute our sales coaching methodology as well as those who use our sales coaching cloud, ONE-UP .

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Topics: sales coaching, sales rep motviation, Effective 1:1's, sales manager resources, Manager Platforms, ONE-UP, Sales Coaching Cloud, Motivating Sales People

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