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Sales Coaching is HARD Work

Sales Coaching is HARD Work

From the podcastResearch says that sales coaching is the #1 sales management activity that drives improvement in sales performance. Except…there’s not a uniform definition for what sales coaching is. That’s a big problem. Is it mentoring? Skills development? Deal coaching? Plus, if sales coaching has the potential to drive performance improvement, why don’t companies invest more in training sales managers how to do it?

As a sales manager in the pharmaceutical industry since 2006, this podcast caught my attention very quickly as the participants hit five key points right up front:

  1. Sales Coaching is a HARD Skill
  2. Most organizations don’t train Sales Managers to be GOOD Sales Coaches
  3. As a results, most sales managers are POOR coaches
  4. Effective Sales Coaching can boost Rep performance by 19%
  5. Good Sales Coaching is required for Good Sales Training to be effective

In my experience through the years, which was reinforced in this podcast, a sales rep will create habits based on a combination of 4 “teachers”:

  1. Peers
  2. Customers
  3. Managers/Coaches
  4. Training Classes  

Of those, the Training Classes have the shortest life span unless reinforced by a good Sales Coach. 

The Top Sales Reps in a company or industry can AND DO take time to coach and develop themselves.  This is a very small percentage of the total number of reps, because like most sales coaches, the majority of reps live day to day with very little focus or effort on improving their craft!  I’m amazed every time I ask my team and others a simple question: “What do you do, outside of what our company provides you, to sharpen your skill set as a salesperson?”  I typically get blank stares or a quickly made up or incoherent answer.  

Sadly, the same answer would come from most Sales Managers as well.  What are WE doing to improve our craft?  Do we coach to deals and sales, or do we coach to improvement of selling skills?  

The Covid Pandemic of 2020 has really exposed this challenge in my industry.  For decades, we stroll into an office, following protocol, get face time with a physician, engage in a conversation, and move on about our day.  We’ve been on “home assignment” since March 13 of this year, and we have had to learn an entire new sales approach – this software called “ZOOM.”  Instead of walking in, we are scheduling appointments, trying to learn how to best use it, teaching our customers how to use it, and finally figuring out how to engage in a meaningful conversation with our customers across a computer screen.  THIS TAKES EFFORT from the SALES REP AND from the SALES MANAGER!

 

Zoom Tuesday was an idea I had that defines what it means to be a “Sales Coach” in my book.  Knowing that we needed to internalize and understand how to utilize this tool, I had each member of my team schedule a zoom meeting with me, as if I were a customer, then conduct a full “role play” meeting with our shared resources and all.  While this took most of that Tuesday to pull off, we developed as a group a “process” that we still follow to this day.  

As the podcast references, we should be selling with a “process” that people can follow and that we can hold them accountable to follow.

The other focus of the podcast discussion is where we as Sales Coaches spend our time.  We should be spending at least 60% of our time with our reps coaching skill development.  Unfortunately, most Sales Coaches in large organizations like mine spend more time on Admin, Report generation, and responding to e-mail than they do coaching to the skill development of their teams.  The truth, as highlighted in this podcast, is that most organizations don’t spend enough time focusing on the development of coaching skills.  For better or worse, time is spent on tracking, administration, discussions, and meetings.  With that being said, I always have and will continue to look for ways to learn from others and improve my Coach/Leader skill set.  That typically means books, podcasts, and during Covid home time – LinkedIn Learning. 

To wrap this up, as a Sales Coach (and Leader), I get the most energy during the day when I spend time with my reps hearing them sell and coaching them to get better.  If my team of reps are following the “process” and have confidence in their abilities and take the time to develop relationships while selling, we will continue to put numbers on the scoreboard.  If you read much about the “process” as outlined by Football Coaches Nick Saban or Bill Belicheck, they don’t watch the scoreboard, they perfect their process.  If their teams do the right things, the scoreboard will take care of itself.

I’ll finish with this – a challenging final quote from this podcast, which I highly recommend you to listen to:

“If Sales Reps aren’t selling, what are they doing?”

“If Sales Coaches aren’t coaching, what are they doing?”

Andy Paul

Sales Enablement Podcast

Training Is Not the Answer!

Training Is Not the Answer!

Good Intentions will never take you anywhere you want to go!  Most people would rather “think about it” than “do it”

– John Maxwell

I heard this quote from John Maxwell during his “30 Day Journey” I recently completed via Right Now Media.  It seems to have been something intended for me, as I’ve been faced with this concept in many different conversations recently.  Maybe because this whole Covid-19 and working from home has given me the opportunity to take part in more training that I typically would.  This podcast from “Manager Tools” covers this subject head on.  The overarching quote I took away was this:

Training is not the answer…it’s only a means to an end, it is not the end in and of itself…as a manager, what you actually want is behavior change. – The Manager Tools Guys

The basic foundation of this podcast is that way too many people and organizations attend training to be trained…and they feel that attending and completing the course is the goal.  BEHAVIOR CHANGE is the goal.  As John Maxwell said, there are way too many people who would rather “think” than “do”.  I put myself in that camp as well!  I listen to podcasts, read books, watch YouTube, but do I really incorporate what I’m learning?  If not, why am I wasting my time on these “training opportunities?”

Here are some of the key concepts I took away from this podcast that I feel will benefit you as well:

  1. The purpose of training is to impart skills that you need to do your job at a high level…to be good at your job
  2. Most training programs don’t bridge the gap between “knowing” and “doing” and when it doesn’t achieve this goal, the training program is a waste of $$ and time because it doesn’t serve to improve skill
  3. A new skill that isn’t put into action isn’t a skill at all, it’s just knowledge – A “skill” is what you do, not what you know
  4. 80% of your skill building comes from “on the job” activity and learning…only 10% come from separate and stand alone “Training”…that’s why appropriate delegation is such as an important skill to leverage as a manager
  5. Knowledge by itself isn’t valuable…when it changes behavior that affects our ability to meet our goals it becomes valuable to an organization: You aren’t contributing to the performance of your organization by obtaining knowledge…it only becomes valuable if it makes you “better” at your role
  6. “Applied” knowledge is more valuable than knowledge: some people feel they are more valuable because of knowledge they’ve gained over time…your value comes from your ability to “apply” the knowledge on useful pursuits to the organization 
  7. If you want to change something, you need to MEASURE and REPORT OUT on it…that will cause behavior change!
  8. Training isn’t about the “going”, it is about the “changing” when you get back
  9. “Having”, “Knowing”, “Feeling”, and “Believing” are NOT Behaviors 
  10. We don’t get paid to do what we like, we get paid to be effective & productive: If you aren’t constantly pushing yourself to become more effective, you are dragging down the company’s overall performance and earnings! 

As my current director says often…”Activity is good, results are better!

Manager-Tools is one of my all time favorite podcasts, but I truly engaged with this one as I listened to it this week.  This one is worth the 40 minutes of your time…if for no other reason at about the 21:30 mark when he begins talking about how strong the job market is…it was at that time, little did we know that COVID-19 would destroy it only about 3 weeks later!!  Please listen to this one, but after you listen, APPLY what you’ve learned!!  

Managing E-Mail…Get to ZERO!!

Managing E-Mail…Get to ZERO!!

During this Covid “work from home” and Zoom immersion, we are all exposed to more than we typically see on a day to day basis!  The picture at the top of this post was from a Zoom I was recently on, and I saw this “inbox” # of e-mails.  It shocked me, but after I posted it, I got several more texts, pics of others inboxes with many more “unread” e-mails!  Maybe it’s because I try to follow the Manager-Tools guidance around handling e-mails, but I have a goal of having ZERO in my inbox or at least have it to a point where I see only 1 screen of e-mails.

Take the time to listen to these 4 podcasts that I’ve embedded below…it’s really worth the time investment!  An empty inbox really lessens that stress level!  And do you REALLY need all those advertisement e-mails?? 

Here are my Top 5 Key Take Aways from listening to these podcasts and how I now handle my e-mail “inbox”:

  1. Check your e-mail 3 times per day (AM, Mid-Day, PM) and clear it out!
  2. Process your inbox, don’t use it as a to do list
  3. We don’t “do e-mail”, we Communicate, and e-mail is a tool we use to communicate
  4. Expectations should be to read every e-mail within 24 hours, respond within 48 hours
  5. E-mail isn’t a replacement for actual conversations, and it’s not the best tool for URGENT communications

Visit the manager tools website for thousands of podasts!  They are one of my favorites to listen to while I drive around the Carolinas!

Why Do You Want To Be A Leader?

Why Do You Want To Be A Leader?

Why are you—or why do you want to be—a leader, really? This is the question bestselling author and leadership expert Patrick Lencioni helps answer in his newest book, The Motive. In this episode, Pat explains how your response to five common leadership responsibilities can reveal whether you’re in it for the right reasons (or not!)—and what to do about it.

This was one of my favorite podcasts that I listened to this week!  I actually listened to parts of it 3 times so I could make sure my notes were accurate!  It’s clearly, in my opinion, worth your listen!  Patrick Lencioni is the guest on this podcast, and he shares some great and timeless leadership lessons.  The overarching quote I took away was this:

IF I DON’T DO THE DIFFICULT THINGS, NOBODY ELSE IS GOING TO DO IT!

The conversation broke down into 5 key areas for leaders to focus on with our teams.  This conversation focused on leaders at the “CEO” level, but we can all benefit as leaders by incorporating these 5 principles.

  1. INVEST TIME TO DEVELOP AND LEAD YOUR TEAM: You can’t farm this out or give it lip service.  Be vulnerable, take risks, disagree on purpose, challenge each other!
  2. MANAGE YOUR REPORTS AS INDIVIDUALS: You HAVE to know your people (reminds me of Manager Tools 1:1 strategy) and provide Guidance, Coaching, and Accountability!  Management (GOOD Management) is a gift to everyone through a rhythm of 1:1 meetings.  We must manage our teams as INDIVIDUALS to an IMMOVABLE STANDARD…the standard doesn’t change!
  3. HAVING DIFFICULT CONVERSATIONS IS CRITICAL: Be a purveyor of joyful accountability!  You can BE NICE, but we have to set a standard and hold our people to that standard (I’ve heard this called the “Velvet Hammer” approach).  Being NICE without accountability (Grandfather approach) isn’t helpful, being HONEST is!
  4. RUN GREAT MEETINGS: As a leader, YOU are responsible for your meetings and running GREAT FOCUSED meetings!  During a meeting, SILENCE by attendees doesn’t equal AGREEMENT, it typically equals DISSENT.  You have to create an environment where challenges and conflict is welcomed, but it needs to be based on TRUST.  Reward and recognize appropriate conflict when it occurs.
  5. CONSTANTLY REPEAT KEY MESSAGES: This one was critical to me, as I’m in the process of doing that exact thing with our key 2020 strategies. As leaders, we need to OVER COMMUNICATE with our teams.

“Because I care about you so much, I’m going to be ruthlessly direct with you”

“A great leader is typically a little geeky because they are so extremely sold out to their mission”

“Fight for the mission”

Why Do We Lead?  Typically falls into 1 of 2 answers:

  1. It’s a reward for my talent and hard work
  2. It’s a Huge Responsibility…I owe it to the ones that I serve

Obviously the call to serve leads to the strongest leadership characteristics.

I loved this podcast, as it aligns with many of my key leadership approaches.  ENTRE-LEADERSHIP typically has strong podcasts, but I truly engaged with this one as I listened to it this week.  This one is worth an HOUR of your time!

You Own Your Future…

You Own Your Future…

As someone who is in the “hiring” game, I’m often contacted by people who want to “get in the pharma industry.”  I advise people, especially those who have no pharma experience, to get with someone who is in the industry and pick their brains.  The first step, I tell them, is to discover whether or not they will even like the position, and talking to someone in the industry is a great first step.  When talking to someone with NO sales experience, I tell them to get experience selling SOMETHING!  You need to get around people doing what you want to do to so you’ll know if it’s a good fit for you. 

In driving around for my job, I began listening to Ken Coleman’s show on XM Radio.  I’ve heard Ken talking about the Proximity Principle, which is his new book calling out steps to find your dream job.  The concept is perfectly aligned with my thoughts:  “To do what I want to do I have to be around the people that are doing it and the places it is happening.”  His advice is on target, so you should really take a moment to listen to it’s concepts!!

Excerpt Taken from DaveRamsey.com Book Site:

Calling all job hunters, career changers and college grads! Feel like the career you want is just too far out of reach? You’ve got the tools—you just need the manual that will get you closer.

You’re not alone. 70% of Americans are unhappy with their jobs. You want more than a nine-to-five J-O-B. You want to know why it’s so hard to find work you actually enjoy. Author and career expert Ken Coleman hears these same questions from callers on The Ken Coleman Show:

  • Is it too late to start over?
  • Even if it’s not too late, what if I try and fail?
  • What will my family and friends think if I try something new?
  • Is my dream career even possible for me?

The mind-set and skill set Ken acquired early in his career—and shares daily with his radio listeners—is now a proven strategy that can work for you too. Ken Coleman will guide you toward the people and places you need to be closer to in order to succeed in getting a job you love.

The Proximity Principle demystifies the questions about who you need to know and where you need to be in order to find new opportunities.

When it comes to People, you’ll learn:

  • How to build relationships with qualified experts (and where to find them)
  • How to connect with professionals and learn from them as a resource
  • How to pursue a constructive and meaningful mentorship
  • What types of peers you need to surround yourself with (and who to avoid)
  • How to find companies and organizations that will help you continue to grow

When it comes to Places, you’ll discover:

  • The exact distance between where you are right now and where your dream job is
  • Where to go in order to get the skill set and education you need to succeed
  • The best location for you to soak up as much experience as possible
  • The places where you can start applying the skills you’ve learned
  • Most importantly, the exact place where you can grow and do work that matters

Break free from boring and land your dream job with The Proximity Principle.