If You Don’t Hate Your Sales Coach… Something Could be Wrong
Over the past 20 years, I’ve surveyed hundreds of high-performing athletes in all levels of sports including professional, college, high school and club sports.
Not once have I found an athlete, including Heisman Trophy winners, Hall of Fame winners, Division 1 conference champions or club sport national champions say: “I loved my coach.”
It seems no one does. And it’s interesting to note that many have even said: “I hated playing for him/her.”
A coach, whether in sports or selling, is almost always in an adversarial relationship with its players.
The conflict is obvious: As a coach, you want your players to work harder, perform better and achieve more. When they don’t rise to that expectation, you have two choices: You can leave them alone or try and find a way to push/pull on them emotionally or with physical demands to get them to rise to the higher level of performance.
The Old School
Old guys like Woody Hayes (Ohio State), Era Parseghian (Notre Dame) and Bear Bryant (Alabama) are etched in our memories standing on the sideline, screaming at the top of their lungs at some kid: “Come on son… you missed that tackle, that was your guy!”
Now that I live in the Research Triangle, under the halo of Coach K, I go to a few Duke basketball games. It seems Coach K is capable of an explosion now and then, which is why he took his jacket off in a game, threw it on the floor, stomped his foot and glared so hard at one of his players I thought the kid was going to melt.
Not all coaches were screamers. Tom Landry, the former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, didn’t raise his voice. He just let guys like Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett know there was very little job security unless they performed. Landry said: “Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control.”
If You Want to Be a Great Sales Coach
Every coach, in sales or sports, must deal with the obvious conflict. At the root of the problem is simply that you and your producer probably want different things.
As the sales coach, sales leader or agency owner, you want growth. And growth only comes from a producer prospecting bigger and better accounts, then selling and closing those accounts and ultimately retaining them for a long time.
But most producers want to remain in their comfort zone. Hence, the conflict: leaders want high performanc and producers want to be comfortable.
When a leader challenges producers to change or modify their beliefs or actions – “Charlie, you need to make more dials, you need to set more appointments, you need to find a way to get commitments and close more deals” – it creates discomfort.
It’s no secret that most producers hate role-playing. Getting better at their craft, that of selling, can be overwhelming. It gets them out of their comfort zone.
Remove the Conflict
One way to deal with the conflict is to remove it by having a common outcome or goal that makes the suffering worthwhile.
What is that common outcome or goal? You’ll never know unless you ask. This is the secret to becoming a great sales coach who is admired and respected.
When you spend time developing that common outcome together, you earn the right to push, pull and stretch your producer out of their comfort zone and grow their performance capability.
Everyone Has Something They Want, Even If They Can’t Admit It
Every producer, both low performers and elite performers, wants something. It’s your opportunity to find out what that is and help them get it. In return, they will perform for you.
It could be to annihilate a common enemy. Maybe it’s achieving a certain financial goal. It could be to make their mother or father proud.
The critical thing here is to find out what they want and document it. Then you confirm it’s what they want, which opens the door to sharing what you want and making sure you have a strong common ground. From there, create a written plan for this mutual achievement and both of you sign it.
A What Without A How Is Useless
Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator and author of Never Split the Difference, says: “A what without a how is useless.”
As you document what is wanted by each party, you need to take the extra time to define how it will happen. This is powerful in many ways. Think of the brain as a computer; it’s a piece of hardware that will operate in relationship to the quality of its software. When you take the time to help producers with the “how,” it is like writing software for their brains.
When I got into the business of developing organic growth technology for insurance agencies, it was with one thing in mind – making it easier for sales leaders to help their producers become radically more effective at growing their books of business. And that always starts with gaining clarity about what is wanted.
Zig Ziglar changed my life when I once heard him say: “You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
Look, you don’t have to be hated as a sales coach. In fact, you can be loved, admired and respected if you will slow down enough to find out what your producers want and help them get it.
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