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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

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!

Book Review – Extreme Ownership

Book Review – Extreme Ownership

This is a good 12 minute review of 10 Key Take Aways from the Book

Jocko’s intense TED Talk about the concepts of Extreme Ownersip

A cool illustrative video of the Top Lessons in Extreme Ownership

It seems as if Extreme Ownership has been intended for me since the Fall of 2019!  We were given the book, which my son Nicholas already had and started reading over the summer, to read over Christmas Holidays.  We then discussed some of it at a 2020 Kick-Off meeting in early January.  At our national Managers Meeting in March, I was delighted to learn that Leif Babin, one of the co-authors, was actually going to speak live to us!  I just happened to be in the area at the right time and got a cool pic with him!  One of my co-workers and I also got one after he spoke to us live!

Now that we are in the midst of COVID-19 and staying home, Zoom meetings are all the rage…so our company set it up where we had 3 folk from Echelon Front speak to us on Zoom.  Jocko was on and spoke to us…and boy is that an intense man! 

Anyway, about the book…I would watch the three YouTube linked videos at the top, as it give you some insight about the book.  I would also HIGHLY RECOMMEND listening to the Audiobook on Audible, as having Jocko and Leif read it in THEIR VOICE is so much more powerful than me hearing it in my head voice!  

I won’t reiterate the key points, because you can find those in millions of places, as well as in the videos above.  What I will say is that I really found value in how the chapters were set up.  Each chapter had a Lesson which was illustrated by a story from their time in combat.  That was followed by a Principle that we should take away, and finally each chapter was concluded by an Application to Business.  They drove it home to how that Lesson could and should apply to ME in MY Business world.  That was important for me.

Obviously, I’m a fan of this book and took away some key concepts.  The key ones I found myself aligning to were:

  • Cover and Move
  • Check your Ego at the Door
  • Keep it Simple
  • Plan

Get the book and read it (or listen to it preferably)…you won’t regret it!

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 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.

Power of Self Reflection

Power of Self Reflection

I received this thought from one of my J&J company resources.  I found it a valuable thought, so I thought I’d share a portion of it here…

Occasionally, it’s important to stop and take time for self-reflection. Think about who you are and where you want to be in life. Thinking about these “big questions” can help you stay motivated to work toward your goals and can help you course-correct if you find you’re heading in a different direction. Here are some questions to consider:

1. What are my core values? Am I living up to them?
2. Am I giving my best energy to my daily activities and loved ones?
3. Where do I want to be in 5 years? 10 years? How do I get there?
4. Am I taking care of myself, physically, mentally, and emotionally?
5. What were my biggest successes and failures this year? What can I learn from those experiences?
6. What kind of impact do I want to make on the world?

Strive for Two Things Every Day…

Strive for Two Things Every Day…

In listening to Zig Ziglar Secret’s of Closing the Sale recently, I heard this quote:

Strive for 2 things every day…be the best you can be today, and learn something today that will make you even better tomorrow.

As easy as this sounds, “life” has a way of getting in the way and before you know it, another day has slipped away and you wonder…”Where’d the time go?”  That is a valid question, and is the first step in making this quote come to life in your evolution.

It takes focus and energy to bring this to life.

  • Be the best you can be today – prepare, plan, execute, analyze the results…repeat…repeat…and repeat.  What my career in sales and sales leadership has taught me is that success is a foreign concept to those who don’t plan and execute.  Laziness will always catch up to those who practice it.  It takes hard work to be your best, but why would you give any less to you or your employer?
  • Learn something today that will make you even better tomorrow – the concept of intellectual curiosity is one that has always come natural to me but appears to be foreign to some of my co-workers and family members through the years.  I have “bet” some of my reps $5 during a field day that I could learn something about their territory by asking questions of customers that they didn’t know already.  In most cases, I kept my money.  Simply keeping your eyes open and listening to what is going on around you will give you insights that you can leverage to become better tomorrow.  As Dave Ramsey has been known to say, the difference between you today and you ten years from now is the books you read and the people you meet.  Make those encounters count!!

Nobody is perfect, but all we can strive for is continuous improvement!  Who’s with me???