Over my selling years, I had 22 sales managers whom I directly reported to. Some were great, some were awful. I have written about it numerous times. Somehow, even in my early sales days, I learned to find someone upbeat, positive, and skilled who I could emulate and hopefully be coached by even if they were not my manager. In some cases I had a wonderful manager and wanted a second opinion on some things. Other times I had a horrid sales manager and needed inspiration and someone to bounce my ideas off of since I could not with the person I directly reported to.
By the way, the #1 reason people leave a company is because of their direct supervisor / manager. This is true in selling as well. If you are a sales leader, and you want your reps to stay working for you, be sure to talk with them about their goals and motivators.
This Thing Called Coaching
We didn’t call it coaching back then, although it did have parallels to athletic coaching just as coaching does today. The goal of a good coach is not to get everyone to one specific place, but to help someone get from where they specifically are to where they specifically want to be. Like athletic coaching, the players on the bench all have different skill sets and different degrees of motivation.
To be coachable you must be open to feedback and suggestions. This is tough for many of us yet critical for success. If you are not open you cannot grow and improve.
Most of the time it is hard to assess yourself because you are intimately involved with your sales situation. By getting input from someone helping to coach you, you get a different point of view.
Three Ways to Be Coachable and Grow Your Sales
1. Be open to creating a plan of action that you'll work regularly for at least 5 days straight. Example: blocking out specific calling time blocks if in fact you need more sales opportunities. If your coach suggests it, at least do it even if you think it might not work.
2. Make daily action that moves you forward: When you are being coached, take time to reflect and see if you are taking actions that are moving you toward more revenues. If not, something is wrong - you're doing too much with customer support or other area that is keeping you from "net-new" sales opportunities.
3. Know that we are all imperfect and that most business processes as well as business actions can be improved. Be of the mindset of a learner, rather than a student. Take initiative and be of support to your immediate team.
I recently talked to a sales rep who I was asked to coach by his sales manager. Our first two conversations were difficult. He reminded me of the person who comes onto Dr. Phil's show to make a change, save their marriage, become employed, or just get new insight -- but then becomes very defensive about why he does what he does.
Dr. Phil has a great line for people who have reason after reason for what is happening - he tends to say:
"How's that workin' for ya?"
The bottom line is that if you can improve and gain more and bigger sales opportunities, you owe it to yourself to be open to anyone offering to help you do that.
Have you benefited from a great coach? If so, post a comment here about how you were helped - it may cause others to understand better when coming from someone recently coached or someone who has used a coach for some time.
Lori Richardson is recognized on Forbes as one of the "Top 30 Social Sales Influencers" worldwide. Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside sales teams in mid-sized companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the "Sales Ideas In A Minute" newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips in selling. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.