Sales Coaching Blog

The Uniqueness of Coaching

Posted by Bill Eckstrom

April 14, 2016

Bill-Eckstrom_Headshot_2014_2x2.pngArguably, the greatest coach of all time, in anything, was a gentleman by the name of John Wooden.  Mr. Wooden coached basketball at UCLA and won more games and national titles during his tenure, to the point where it almost seems surreal.  He was so successful, many people in coaching roles believe him unrealistic to even emulate.

“It is amazing how much can be accomplished if nobody cares who gets the credit”

Because coaching performance fascinates me (and all of us at EcSell), I have read a couple of Wooden’s books in order to understand more about his success. What I discovered is that while many things made him powerful, it was his “why” that allowed him and his teams to achieve the unattainable. Too often people will read his books looking for the “how” and in doing so will completely miss the most critical messages. What I learned from reading about him not only made sense, it also validated our research at EcSell. And, the good news is that his coaching principles have almost complete cross-over to sales leadership (an exception being--teaching those on your team how to properly tie their shoes).

“Five years from now you are the same person except for the people you’ve met and the books you’ve read.”

His “why” didn’t have to do with winning games, he viewed victories as the outcome of proper preparation. His “why” was about developing young men into more than just great basketball players, John Wooden made sure he prepared his young men to lead a fully productive life. In every sales department, many sales people view their manager more like a compliance officer versus a coach, whose only goal is to hit a number. And while hitting a number is a needed outcome, this “why” will not drive a lot of discretionary effort from those on your team. We see a direct correlation between sales people who strongly agree that their “manager cares about me as a person” and how much they sell. A sales coach’s “why” impacts their behaviors, behaviors send a message and that message dictates motivation to perform.John_Wooden.jpg

“What you are as a person is far more important than what you are as a basketball player.”

In order to accomplish this admirable “why”, he acknowledged that early in his coaching career he believed in the need to treat everyone the same way, but quickly acquiesced realizing he had 15 unique individuals, and therefor needed 15 unique ways to motivate. Only until this occurred was he able to attain and sustain discretionary effort from each player on his team.

“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

Your sales team is no different.  You also have unique individuals who all have a unique “why".

  • Have you taken the time to understand their “why”?
  • Are helping them become great sales people, great business people, great people?
  • Is your “why” well defined and your guiding force?

“Happiness begins where selfishness ends”

Great sales coaching must begin with the “why”, and only when this is understood and lived does the “how” make sense.  Understand your company’s “why”, understand your “why” and the “why” of every member on your team, and watch the sales roll.

“Success is peace of mind attained only through self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do the best of which you are capable”

Thank you, Mr. Wooden, for paving the way and giving us all an opportunity to be more impactful in the lives of those whom we coach.


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Topics: coaching effectively, sales leadership, sales coaching, Sales Management

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