Why Coaching Salespeople Creates Champions

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Though early on in my career I did not get any sales specific training I was fortunate to intern under several successful sales champions. My mentors had learned their skills through the school of hard knocks and over a long period of time. Mentoring me, though, was far from their minds and all they really cared was if I made enough sales and if my success at sales put money into their coffers.  Amazingly though, and such is life, I picked up a million little lessons from them which over time gave me an uncanny and an unfair advantage over many sales people and endeared me to my clientele and the market I played in. The learning was in-depth and the growth was exhilarating and long lasting. Years into the profession, when side by side with my mentors I had developed an uncanny and subtle set of playing rules which almost always helped me close deals and serve my clients consistently and to the benefit of both sides.

Over time, I realized that the art of selling was not just an art but an extremely refined science. The rules of this science, in the past, were learned through by getting into the pit again and again. Today, the culture of learning through long and strenuous interactions over a  l o n g period of time does not need to be continued. It still has its benefits but keeping in mind the principle of “Anything can be accomplished if the task is broken down into small enough steps,” from the school of Nuero Linguistics Programming, a sales leader can transfer these uncanny and subtle set of playing rules to almost anyone willing to learn and wanting to make a success out of his sales career.

Stretching Limits through Sales Coaching

Stretching Limits through Sales Coaching

 

Across the world trainers and sales consultants like me have now packaged these playing rules into principles and practices which can be mastered in a matter of months if not weeks.  Gone are the days when a successful sales person or a team leader would get on stage and boost the spirits of his teams through stories and admonitions towards sales success. Today, the name of the game is Sales Coaching—and, it is potent and powerful in real time and in measurable terms.

Sales Coaching brings about a multitude of benefits at the individual, the team and the organisational level.

At the individual level, sales coaching starts with the assumption that if you can dream it then you can achieve it. This becomes an extremely powerful a paradigm for the sales person because it starts with the belief in her potentiality, its helps unleash her latent strengths and it helps her leverage on her own past successes no matter what field or discipline she comes from. Sales coaching, at the individual level, instead of imposing the manager’s or the organizations belief systems on the salesperson helps her uncover her own driving values. It help her fine tune her skills in complete alignment with her own beliefs and potential.

At the team level, Sales Coaching, helps distribute work load and challenges based on personal preferences and competencies of each player. It helps teams eliminate links which may be weak and move from strength to strength to strength. Steven Covey highlights this synergy of strengths by creating a metaphor of loading a single wooden plank with a measured downward pressure, followed by laying another layer of a wooden plank on the first one. The downward pressure and weight thus carried by two wooden planks not just doubles in tandem to the number of planks but increases multi-fold. Such is the power of Sales Coaching for a team. It strengthens each player individually and then bonds them together with their strengths thus reducing team weaknesses. At the practical level, a manager-cum-coach can assess individual strengths and assign tasks and territories to build on strengths instead of just logistical and market demands.

At the organizational level, Sales Coaching helps in the following ways:

  • Essential knowledge and organization culture is retained and enhanced in the process.
  • Employee engagement and thus retention peaks up because of increased performance and satisfaction.
  • Alignment of personal, team and organizational goals are constantly aligned thereby boosting rapid and sustainable growth.

In summary, the business of old-fashioned sales training has taken on a new and a vibrant face. Instead of sweeping statements about successes and successful behaviour during sales it now is a fine-tuned, highly refined and custom made one on one learning. It is not just faster, better and cheaper but it is also creative, conscientious and constructive. A well-designed sales coaching program addresses the needs of individuals, teams and organization in the areas of culture, processes, characters, visions, and competencies.  A well designed sales coaching program also provides knowledge, skills and true wisdom for playing well in the pits, where the true action is.

FORCE people to remember your Presentations

We all know visuals matter, stories count and drama has a large impact on how we remember, recall and react to new information. The truth is that how we first store or remember influences or ability to recall and act upon new data. In fact, this truth has a certain science and structure to memorizing and making things memorable for your audience during presentations. The following is an excerpt from my book, The HeART of Public Speaking.  The model is simple enough to put into practice for any kind of presentations.

Mind Map your way through the Head, Heart and Humor behind Public Speaking.

“The way we store information in our minds is similar to how we store books on a shelf.

 Besides storing them alphabetically or by subject and author, we also tend to look, feel and size up the book before thinking about where it should go. The first book, let’s say, we place becomes our primary reference point and we then also arrange other books by how long we’ve had them, how often we refer to them and how relevant they are to our studies.  Starting with that reference point, each group develops a certain “neighborhood” of its own.

 Likewise, new information and new learning also chunks itself up — like an internal “bookshelf” — in our memory by time, usage, relevance and novelty.

 Taking into account this fact about how our memory works and using an acronym–FORCE, we can create a template for highly memorable presentations.

F is for First: Experiences like your first date and your first plane ride are hard to forget. Similarly, the opening lines of a speech also have a lasting impression on our minds. This is also referred to as the “Law of Primacy.”

O is for Often: People you see regularly on the bus, a billboard en route to work or a song that you hear again glues easily on our memory.  Similarly, in speaking, some repetition and rephrasing, creates better recall. This is also referred to as the “Law of Repetition.”

R is for things you can easily Relate to: Things such as a face in a crowd similar to your own ethnicity or someone wearing a shirt in your favorite color. In speaking, ideas and opinions the audience can quickly relate to, improve absorption and recall. This is also called the “Law of Relevance.”

C is for Catchy: Details or objects that are strikingly different from their environment, like a big white man in a crowd of Asians or a red hat amongt a lot of white ones. In public speaking, it is a good idea to include a colorful or a catchy phrase in our talks. This is also referred to as the “Law of Outstanding-ness.”

E is for Endings: People tell dozens of stories about having seen someone for the very last time or of their last visit abroad. Just like things that are heard, seen, or felt at the end stay longer on the “desktop” of your memory. In public speaking making your closings powerful makes the whole presentation impressive. This is also referred to as the “Law of Recency.”  

Therefore, while researching data to include in our presentations, it’s a good idea to look out for things that…

•        will create a good First impression;

•        can be mentioned Often but in different words;

•        the audience can Relate to easily;

•        are different and Catchy;

•        will create a lasting impression in the End.

And, while constructing speeches, keeping in mind the principles of FORCE will make our speeches/presentations  memorable and impact-laden.”

When I, sometimes, look back at this model I feel that such a flow of thought…FORCE can also be a way to structure your presentations and talks. Yes!

Power of the Pause

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A work of art, way before it becomes a masterpiece, must start with a plain white canvass. Hidden, and yet unborn, inside it lie the ponderings, the passions and the promise of hope and beauty. The artist’s creativity would be severely crippled, every time he picked up his brush, if the solitude of white on the canvass did not lure him to conceive and co-create a brand new reality. Just like masterpieces require the emptiness of a canvass to creatively explode upon; our conversations also need momentary silences, pauses, to express and highlight the magic and motivation which lie hidden in our hearts and minds.

Job applicants, job interviewees, salespeople, managers and even senior executives across industries fall into this trap of speaking up without thinking in. We forget to recognize and give way to the feelings within. This constant shooting-from-the-hip-ness adds nothing but more noise to the din and the mindlessness that engulfs our world. This aimless and excessive thoughtless verbosity is a waste of ammunition and a massive waste of human energy.

Power of the Pause

Power of the Pause

A pause, before, during and even after conversations adds color, rhythm and a panoramic elegance to conversations. A pause, properly orchestrated, is one of the most powerful dynamics of speech. It allows the speaker and the listener to assess thoughts, structure ideas and tap into the deeper recesses of our wisdom and instinct. In the language of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a pause allows us to align our internal resources of intellect, emotion and authentic self with our external resources of the body, speech and action.

In conversations, before interactions, we can chose to stop, to slow down and be still for a few seconds. This will allow us to put a leash on the chain-reaction of reactive behaviour. This can lessen our spinning off in the usual way of defend, offend, talk up, talk down and constantly justify our past performances. A pause is power and a pause induces empowerment and trust, as it makes the other person feel listened to. This little pause then becomes a source of powerful human energy.

The way to increase the amount of pausing before, during and after all our interactions is to keep a mindful awareness on our breathing. Every now then the din and the clamour of the world that surrounds us tends to take over and engulf us in its toxicity but an awareness on our breath acts as an anchor and helps us manage emotions. A visible sign, and constant life-saver of emotional intelligence is a smooth, deep and a rhythmic flow of breath.

In many of my workshops, I profess the 3P method of powerful connection, engagement and influence. In any interaction plant yourself in a position where you are physically stable, at ease and have good visibility and exposure. After planting, pause deeply to gather your thoughts and visualize empowerment of the listeners and a successful outcome of the conversation. Finally, project yourself with power and confidence keeping the goals of the interaction authentic, integral and driven by purpose. This will align your internal and external resources and also evoke excellence from others. That, in essence, is leadership and coaching for excellence in action.

Pausing consciously is a momentary respite between being completely self-absorbed to being awake and present for others and for life. Our conversations need these momentary silences and pauses, to express and high-light the magic and motivation which lie hidden in our hearts and minds.  Watch Video

Empathy and Presentations

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“We’ve got to feel the audience,” he said and with a warm smile on his craggy face as he gently rubbed his coarse hands together.

“What? Feel the audience! How exactly do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, you see most all of us when we stand to make a presentation, we are concerned with two things; one, we are concerned with the thought of how exactly will impress the audience and the second, we are concerned about how exactly will the audience perceive and accept us. These two concerns are the manifestations of either self-importance and/or of self-consciousness. Both these manifestations are born in the ego, a self image of us that is skewed away from our true self,” he said.

“And then?” I urged him on.

“And,” he went on “when we are skewed away from our true self, we are pretending, we are putting on act to impress others. When we are pretending to be who we are not then we are standing on shaky ground, and we are unsure of how to appear steady, calm and self confident while scores of eyes are watching our every move, every gesture and every expression. Under such scrutiny the veneer of pretension will crack and, usually, does crack.”

“Uh, hmm, I see what you mean;” I said “how then does empathy become the solution to this malady?”

Presentation Skills by Raju Mandhyan

Presentation Skills by Raju Mandhyan

“Pretty simple,” he said “when we care, respect and view the audience to be human, to be frail of ego just as we are then we are, naturally, overcome by a sense of camaraderie and brotherhood. If I may push the idea a bit more, we begin to empathize with them and for them. It’s a great feeling and it diffuses all the hot air that is pent up inside of us as would be presenters. We come down to earth and our focus moves towards the mission at hand. The mission at hand is, always, of adding value, building something new, something that carries High Impact.”

“Gotcha!” I said to ‘Craggy Face,’ “I understand you want us all to turn into monks at heart. Ok!”

‘Craggy Face’ smiled warmly and rubbed his coarse hands gently and happily.

He was pretty cool that way!

Sales Coaching & Trust, Inc,

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A sales coach or any other kind of a coach for that matter, to be effective with his client/coachee must first have his client/coachee’s trust. This is achieved by aligning agendas, having similar perspectives and following a tried and tested coaching process but before we delve into all these ideas and check out the process, let’s take a closer look at what is the bigger picture of the word “trust.”

Here’s a very interesting perspective shared by Nan S. Russell, the author of the book, Trust Inc.,

“Imagine millions and millions of trust-pockets thriving across hundreds of thousands of organizations and businesses, operated by people just like you. When I hold that picture, I’m reminded of words from tennis legend Arthur Ashe: “To achieve greatness: start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”

Trust Inc by Nan Russel

Trust Inc by Nan Russel

People work for people, not for companies. Even in an era when “skeptical” has turned to “cynical” about everyone from politicians to priests, doctors to teachers, and CEOs to department heads, any

supervisor, manager, or business owner can still build a trusting environment for their work group, where people can show up and do great work.

If you’re someone’s immediate supervisor, you can positively influence trust, engagement, and innovation. You don’t need to wait for HR or top management to launch an initiative to rebuild trust, reignite passions, or reboot the work culture. Top-down programs aren’t the answer to distrust and disengagement, you are.

Troubling trends and heart-grabbing headlines can reinforce the impression that no one is worthy of your trust. But they are.”  Download Excerpt from Trust Inc.,

 

Yes, you are responsible as a Sales Manager to acquire and build trust not just of sales people but also of the customers they have to deal with and this can only be done walking your talk of trust authentically and in every interaction. You’ve got to impress the awareness of your team and future-leaders-to-be that they are worthy of trust and trust is the tapestry where the beauty of success and growth is painted.

Assessing Sales Coaching Outcomes

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So we are onto the third of all the five questions raised during the 5th public run of the HeART2HeART Sales Management & Coaching workshop at the Ascott in Makati, Philippines last July, 2013.

The question was, “How does a Sales Manager know and measure the effectiveness of a coaching session he might have conducted with one of his salespersons?”

Well, here’s the hearty deal! As and when the Sales Manager is concerned and is conscientious about his own attitude and actions towards the development of his people then, automatically, his performance improves, his outcomes are better targeted and the interaction takes on a holistic and an empowering hue.

Confused? Rightly so! My fault, I jumped the gun a bit.

Assessing Sales Coaching OutcomesOf the several competencies required by a coach is her ability to be aware, to be authentic, and to have the agenda of his “coachee” on the top of his mind and to be adaptive to the growing needs of his learner. This is powerful because it is only in the development of others, only in the progress of her client and only in unleashing the potentials of her team members lays her own success. A sales manager turned coach lives and breathes to evoke the best out of others and deliver team and organizational results.

Now, how we do assess every single interaction and every little session?

One, is the salesperson/coachee hungering for growth and self-mastery every time you have an interaction with him? Ask him. Have him respond to simple questions. Listen, observe and feel. Does he trust you? Does your “coachee” walk away from a session challenged and/or empowered? Yes, both states are important—challenged and/or empowered.

Two, were most of the conversations within the coaching session targeted towards the salespersons goals and also, subtly and surely, in alignment with the sales team’s objectives. Yes, this is an essential difference between life coaching and sales coaching. There has to be a strong alignment of goals between the salespersons personal goals and the team goals.

Assessing Sales Coaching OutcomesThree, the sales manager-cum-coach also needs to keep his eye on improving corporate revenues and profits. If the coaching and learning sessions with the sales “coachee” are going well and he feels empowered and excited by his own progress but, overtime, all the activity is creating little impact on the company’s financial bottom-line then there is something amiss in the process. In this case have a another look and have another think about mutual agendas and the coaching process, keeping in mind that product/service quality, internal systems and market conditions are not derogatory to progress.

There! That’s how to assess the effectiveness of coaching your sales personnel. That’s the HeART2HeART way!

Yes, it also does help the sales manager to maintain an efficient tracking of the regular sessions and the overall performances of the sales people, the team and the overall profits.

Attend my upcoming workshop, go build your teams and grow your profits!

Also, if you wish, watch this clip about telling stories as a sales coach.

 

 

Warm, Cold Calling

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A week before last Christmas I was in the middle of a training session in Mumbai, India when my silent phone lit up with an incoming call. During the break I noted that it was from an unknown number from the Philippines. Instead of asking an impolite “Who is this please?” I sent an SMS saying, “I am in the middle of a meeting-how can I help?”

“You can help me buy a cocktail dress,” came back a prompt reply. This time, since I didn’t recognize the incoming number I responded with an impolite, “Who is this please?” “Pamela,” came back a quick response. Thinking this was someone from my family or friends, I responded with, “Right. Ha ha ha, and a Ho ho ho to you too!”

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Managing the Maps in our Minds

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The maps in our minds are our, very own, perceptions of realities. They are our points of view and since each one of us is totally unique then, obviously, every perspective we own is unique.

That is all fine and dandy but we get into murky waters when we begin to assess other people’s intentions and begin to believe that our assessments are true and that there is no space for doubt. Thus our perceptions become assumptions of truth and we get into murkier waters when we begin to react to these assumptions. These are maps yes, but many a times, negative ones.

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The Map & the Reality

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One of the principles I put across in most of my workshops is that it is fine to mindlessly mouth the adage that change is the only constant in the world. What we do not realize that change is not just a constant but that there are multiple realities and all that we perceive to be realities are also constantly changing. Thus, everything we perceive or “map” to be our reality is not what others perceive it to be. And, not only do these internal maps or perceptions differ but they are also, always, in a constant, frenzied flux. It’s as if all our individual minds are like frenzied snow-globes of different kinds and then we all live, work and progress inside a huge snow-globe called life.

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Intention and Action in Sales

I am a big believer in the power of intention. Of course, believing in the power of intention does not, for me, cross out my faith in the power of action and my trust in taking action. Intention is the non-tangible seed and action is that aspect of all successes that is visible and measurable. Thus, without the right intention, your actions can be insipid and your outcomes can amount to zilch. Nada. Nothing!

In sales and selling when approaching new clients, analyzing their needs and presenting them with options or, even, solutions your true and authentic intentions will have a direct correlation to all outcomes and to the closing of the sale.

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