I really enjoy playing golf, but with two kids under the age of five my ability to get in 18 holes has been severely impacted. There is no more golf league in my life and it is rare for me to play a round unless it is part of some type of charity or philanthropic event. Fortunately, for me, when I play in these events I am still able to compete because at the amateur level, the game of golf offers a handicap score which is a numerical measure of a golfer’s potential ability. In its most simplistic form, what the handicap system does is it allows very average golfers (like me) to compete on a level playing field with much better golfers to make the game more competitive. As an under performing golfer, I am thankful for the handicap system because it gives me a chance to be relevant in a game where I am competing with much better players.
A while back, in our Monday Management Minute, I made an analogy comparing sales coaching to golf. I did so because in golf, like in sales coaching, it is very easy to understand what you need to do well in order to achieve success, but it is really hard to execute at a high level, especially when you don’t practice on a consistent basis. Everybody knows that in order to be a great golfer you need to be . . .
- good off the tee,
- you need to be a good putter,
- you must be strong with your long and short irons,
- and be able to play out of tough conditions like heavy rough and sand traps
On top of these physical skills sets, you also must possess an incredible amount of mental strength to be an elite golfer, which is why so many golfers have both physical and mental coaches. For every professional golfer, understanding that these items are endemic to great golf scores means very little because it is a commitment to practice in these areas and execution in these areas that will improve their overall scores and net earnings.
Likewise, understanding what it takes to be a great sales coach is not very difficult to understand. You need to . . .
- Do joint work with your reps
- Do effective pre-call planning and post-call feedback
- Hold consistent and effective 1 on 1’s
- Hold team meetings
- Professionally develop each individual rep to help him or her achieve their career objectives.
Like professional golfers, front-line sales leaders have a tough job that is loaded with high expectations and pressure. Unfortunately for front-line leaders there is no “handicap” that levels the playing field, it is a cut-throat profession where the best sales coaches rise to the top and their under performing peers do not survive, which is reinforced by the fact the average tenure for a sales leader is 19 months.
So to be a high-performing sales coach, on-going development and improvement is not optional. It is not all doom and gloom for those in sales management though because sales organizations can measure their sales management team’s coaching score if they choose to put hard data and metrics to their coaching quality and quantity. By doing so, they will finally have a clear line of sight for how each of their managers can improve their “handicap” so to speak by determining their individual coaching score. And once sales organizations truly get serious about improving their sales manager’s skill sets in the areas that matter most, they will quickly begin turning their sales managers into world-class coaches, which is significant because the top 20% of sales coaches bring in $4.1 million more per year in revenue than the bottom 80% of their lower performing peers, and to speak in golfing terms, that is A LOT more “net earnings”.
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See how one organization's c-suite is getting insight into the "coaching handicaps" of their leadership team in this CASE STUDY.
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