DEFINING THE ROLE OF A SALES COACH
The following is an overview of a coach’s role and core responsibilities.
- Focuses on strengths, not weaknesses.
- Facilitates, which is defined as “Making things easier.”
- Brings out the best in people by supporting, assisting and maximizing people’s strengths.
- Requests change and growth, as well as informs and guides.
- Has the right questions, not necessarily all the answers.
- Empowers people to be accountable for their success and failures.
NINE BARRIERS TO COACHING A SALES TEAM
For any executive sales coaching initiative to be effective and long-lasting, there are important obstacles that a manager or internal sales coach needs to address.
- No coach the coach program
- Coaching is a choice—not an obligation
- Surrender your agenda when coaching
- You’re coaching people, not changing people
- Connection—it has to be the real thing
- Confidentiality and no judgment? Sure, boss!
- Anyone can manage, not everyone can coach
- Full accountability
- Competitive managers
Now that we’ve listed the barriers that can get in the way of implementing an effective internal coaching program, do not be disheartened. With greater awareness comes choice. The good news is you possess the power to make a difference. The majority of these internal obstacles can be overcome using the strategies outlined in this book.
The Coach’s Mindset Six Universal Principles of Masterful Coaching
It takes more than upgrading what you do to become a masterful sales coach. You also need to change how you think and behave on a consistent level.
UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLE OF MASTERFUL COACHING NO. 1: MAKE FEAR YOUR ALLY
Embrace the belief that if and when you experience fear, it is trying to teach you something. Responding to fear in a healthier way will provide you with an opportunity to grow and learn, which leads to greater wisdom and unprecedented results.
Remember, that which you fear will happen is always happening in the future and, as mentioned, never in the present. If you can stay in the present moment as opposed to worrying about the negative assumptions of the future, you will notice that your fears will lose their powerful edge.
UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLE OF MASTERFUL COACHING NO. 2: BE PRESENT
We often live, listen, and react from the past or push for something to happen in the future. To be fully present means you are able to focus on a single person, idea, or topic. It means not having any preoccupations with the past or future—the two points in time we have no control over.
Being fully present takes practice, effort, focus, and a willingness to exclude all that is not directly relevant to what you are currently engaged in, especially while speaking with someone. Living in, responding to, and thinking in the moment is both healthy and more productive. It will enable you to embrace the magnificence life offers today without sacrificing what is most important to you (friends, family, health, career, etc.) in an attempt to get somewhere. Learn to master each moment in time, realizing that what is always takes precedence over what was and what will be.
UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLE OF MASTERFUL COACHING NO. 3: DETACH FROM THE OUTCOME
Ultimately, attachments are based in fear and a strong desire to control the situation, even other people. Quite often in situations like these, managers put themselves and their own personal agendas ahead of the team’s needs and goals, often resulting in a need to micromanage. This micromanagement creates a sense of mutual distrust between managers and their salespeople, weakening the integrity of the relationship between management and staff and fostering a mentality of “I” versus “we.”
Conversely, managers who are more trusting of their team, as well as their own ability to effectively coach them and drive growth, offer more autonomy to their salespeople. These managers are not driven by fear or the desire to control their people or the outcome but by the bigger vision of what is possible for them and for their team to achieve.
UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLE OF MASTERFUL COACHING NO. 4: BECOME PROCESS DRIVEN
It’s essential to know when enough is enough at the end of each day. Trust the process you’ve put in place. After all, there’s always more to do. There’s always more that can be done at the office, at your home, or in your life—another call that can be made or another e-mail that can be read and responded to.
Meeting your goals will be the result of the cumulative efforts you make and the activities you engage in every day. When you’re mindful of the process, you now have the opportunity to recognize, enjoy, and celebrate your accomplishments on a daily basis. Some of these achievements may feel very small or insignificant, but celebrate them regardless, instead of waiting until you’ve achieved your final desired result. (And when does that occur, anyway?)
UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLE OF MASTERFUL COACHING NO. 5: BE CREATIVE
The most effective managers and coaches on the planet realize that coaching is the art of creating possibilities and opportunities that didn’t exist before.
After all, when you are helping one of your salespeople solve a problem, refine a skill, bring in more sales, or develop a more effective way to perform a task, think about what it is you are actually doing. You are creating a new possibility or outcome. Keep in mind the story of our friend Michele and the barriers she was up against that prevented her from becoming a more creative manager for her team. Living in the future, being driven by fear, and being attached to your own agenda are the adversaries of creativity.
Think about the possibilities you can create today as the manager of a sales team. Although the opportunities are boundless, there are still managers out there who may feel confined or restricted when it comes to making the necessary changes desperately needed to maximize the performance of their sales teams. These managers feel that they are pushing up against what they perceive to be a ceiling of limitation, which robs them of their abilities and drive to foster positive change. These managers feel powerless to become the catalyst they need to be in order to modify, let alone transform or revolutionize, their existing sales culture.
UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLE OF MASTERFUL COACHING NO. 6: BECOME FULLY ACCOUNTABLE—FOR EVERYTHING
One universal principle that the most successful coaches adhere to is this: You are fully accountable for everything that shows up in your life. If we apply this to our communication, then a masterful communicator is fully accountable not only for the message that is delivered but for the message the other person is hearing. Therefore, we must own the responsibility of the entire communication process and adjust our communication style accordingly.
Here’s an alternative. You can be weighed down with excuses or empowered by the ability to make better choices. Either way, you’re accountable for these excuses, just as you are accountable for your sales team. Since you are evaluated or compensated by how successful your team is, then tolerating these excuses will come at a heavy price. Ultimately, you will be the one responsible for breathing life into these excuses or pioneering innovative solutions in order to eradicate them.
Once you take full accountability for yourself as well as each person on your sales team, you will be able to empower others to be fully accountable for themselves.
PUSH VERSUS PULL—A SIMPLE MODEL OF MOTIVATION
Managers try to motivate people by force or by pushing because they are attached to the outcomes. Other push structures include using fear, consequences, or threats when trying to get people into action or motivate them to complete a task.
Attraction-based strategies used to motivate people include things like pleasure, support, and coaching. Another way to motivate is by tapping into that person’s personal vision or goal, that is, helping people gravitate toward a specific goal or outcome that they want to achieve rather than prodding them with a consequence to avoid.
The major difference between the two is that the attraction model requires much less effort over time and has long-term effects whereas the old-school push strategy of motivating requires a lot of effort and is temporary.
Ultimately, the goal is to get your employees to become internally driven as opposed to having to be externally motivated through an outside force—your precious and limited time and energy. Let your employees tell you how they want to be motivated, which will lead to the development of a self-driven team of salespeople.
LET YOUR SALESPEOPLE TELL YOU WHAT MOTIVATES THEM
Tap into the individuality of your own team. For example, a 10-person sales team is not just 10 salespeople. These 10 salespeople are 10 individuals who just happen to be salespeople and perform the same job function. In other words, focus on their individualities, their personal and unique needs and goals, as well as their natural strengths and talents to uncover what drives each person.
Not everyone is motivated by the same proverbial carrot or technique to drive performance. Truly great managers are sensitive to the fact that each person on their team is unique and as such, these managers appreciate these differences and do not try to fit each team member into a “one size fits all” incentive program or selling strategy.
Many managers assume that every salesperson is motivated by money. This is not always the case. As a matter of fact, it can be demotivational when the carrot dangling in front of salespeople is not only distracting but also promises a reward they don’t even want
The degree to which employees felt compensated for their work had little to do with how they felt about management. The perception that a company genuinely listened to and cared about its employees was nine times more important to employees than satisfaction with their pay, in rating the relations between labor and management.
MOTIVATE THROUGH PLEASURE RATHER THAN CONSEQUENCE
Motivating through fear and intimidation results in the other person pushing to avoid something they don’t want (loss of a job or a measurable consequence) rather than gravitating toward something they really do want.
If people are governed by a fear of being punished or of losing their job if they don’t perform, how do you think this affects them, their attitude, and their performance? How about the morale of your team? And, ultimately, how does this affect your clients? I think it’s safe to say that there’s clearly a measurable cost associated with using these motivational tactics. You cannot inspire others when you are afraid, and you can’t be inspired when your mind and soul are full of fear and worry.
COMMUNICATE FROM ABUNDANCE RATHER THAN FROM SCARCITY
Instead of focusing on what is not present or focusing on the potential consequence, talk about what benefits will be present. For example, the following statements are fear-based threats. “If you don’t make your quota this quarter, then you won’t have a job” or “If you can’t get this project completed within the time frame we discussed, then you won’t be able to take that vacation you wanted at the end of the month.” These statements are consequence-driven statements that focus on what will be missing or what the person will not be able to do or have if they don’t do what is expected of them.
Your communication style says a lot about you and where you are coming from in your thinking. So if you’re communicating from scarcity, then where do you think your focus is when it comes to managing others as well as your mindset?
What about these statements? “If you reach your quota this month, then you will be eligible for the quarterly bonus” or “Once you complete that project, then the only thing I want you to focus on the following week would be planning your vacation and the fun you’re going to have during your week off, especially knowing that it’s a paid vacation week.” Notice how these statements imply the benefit or pleasure that will be present in the person’s life rather than what will be missing.
MAKE ACKNOWLEDGMENT UNCONDITIONAL, MEASURABLE, AND SPECIFIC
The number one issue people have in the workforce today is, “Will I be valued and will I have a job in the future?” You want the people who are working for you to want to be there. Otherwise, what do you think they are going to spend their time doing?
Yet many managers do not acknowledge their people’s value and do not appease their concerns. Instead, managers focus more on problems rather than on their team’s achievements or solutions to drive continued, sustainable growth. These managers are continually putting out fires and jumping from one problem to the next.
The by-product of acknowledgment is you build morale, which breeds the type of culture that you are looking to create. Ask yourself, do you get acknowledged for something on a daily basis? Chances are, if you have not been the recipient of consistent, positive, and authentic praise, then you may be conditioned to believe that acknowledgment is not all that critical or effective. After all, we learn from our predecessors. Just ask yourself, how often do you authentically acknowledge people on a daily basis?
The key to using positive reinforcement and acknowledgment as a powerful, motivating tool is to use it authentically, measurably, and unconditionally. Do not issue generic, hollow statements of praise that sound like “Good work!” Instead, recognize when something specific has occurred. Notice what people do or how they have improved. Praise them for who they are and who they are becoming.