Yes, you can
actually want too much for your salespeople and your clients, more than they,
in fact, may be ready for or even want for themselves. Jake learned this lesson
quickly as a new coach.
To this day, Jake’s unwavering
commitment to every one of the salespeople on his team is to help them make the
long-term changes they want and need in their careers.
When Jake first started coaching
his salespeople, he made a personal commitment that he would not just be a
sales coach but an exceptional coach that every salesperson in his company
would call on first. And in the spirit of becoming this person, he put action
behind this commitment. He carefully prepared, researched, and practiced prior
to every coaching session he had with a salesperson.
“Coaches deliver value while
challenging their clients to achieve more through the utilization and
development of their natural skills and talents so they can live up to their
fullest potential” was Jake’s firm belief. He was insistent, practically
obsessed with the notion that his salespeople must walk away with measurable
value from every interaction and coaching session they had with him.
This manifested itself in a
variety of ways. For example, if salespeople were coming to Jake ready to
review their targeted objectives, he challenged them to reconsider their goals
and make them even loftier, encouraging them to reach for even bigger, more
rewarding results. Or, Jake might suggest that they identify a timeline in
which they wanted to attain their goal or, better yet, shorten the timeline
they initially developed for achieving this milestone.
If a salesperson was struggling
to bring in an acceptable number of appointments each week through referrals
and was considering putting together a cold calling campaign, Jake would be
right there ready with the call template, opening statement, and process she
needed to be effective at cold calling, including the number of dials she
should start making today in order to achieve her sales goals.
You can want too much for your
salespeople and your clients, more than they, in fact, may be ready for or even
want for themselves.
Whatever objectives and goals his
salespeople would have, Jake was ready to act as their primary source of
support, encouragement, knowledge, structure, and insight needed to achieve
what mattered most to them.
You name it, and Jake was ready
for every conceivable question, goal, or challenge his salespeople threw at
him. And, boy, did he push and push and then, when he was finished pushing, he
pushed some more. Just think about what happens when you keep pushing without
gauging the resistance level? You get pushback.
But why should a coach sense
pushback from a salesperson, when the salesperson was the one who set the goals
in the first place? What Jake wasn’t aware of was the flaw in his strategy.
Look at the word client. Now, look at
the word in the middle of the word. That’s right, you’ll notice the word lie. To be clear, Jake’s salespeople
weren’t intentionally lying to him. It’s just that people often lie to
themselves and believe the lies to be true.
These lies come in a variety of
shapes and forms. For example, a lie could be an unwillingness to look at the
truth, or a lack of awareness around the real issue. People can deceive
themselves about the way they process information or may be unrealistic as to
how fast they could move in order to reach a goal. In some cases, people don’t
like the solution because it wasn’t what they expected or wanted, or they
weren’t comfortable with it. This can cause pushback.
Sometimes, salespeople won’t
admit that they lack the skills they know are necessary to achieve their goals.
They aren’t sure they can put in the time and effort to master the skills. This
new awareness may cause resistance. Rather than pushing through and forging
ahead without knowing all the facts, coaches need to take the salesperson’s
pulse to avoid causing further damage.
People often lie to themselves and
believe the lies to be true.
To prevent forcing your agenda
and expectations on those you coach, it’s critical that you find out what your
salespeople’s expectations are from your coaching, the value they expect and
how they want to be coached.
Take Their Pulse, Not Yours
Even though Jake’s salespeople
were telling him they enjoyed and benefited from his coaching, he felt
something was off. At the end of every coaching call, Jake felt like he’d just
run a marathon. He was exhausted and deflated. His energy was all used up. Jake
poured his heart and soul into every coaching call, believing this was what a
coach was supposed to do. Not exactly.
As a new coach, Jake didn’t have
enough experience to recognize that how he felt at the end of a coaching call
was a telltale sign that something was indeed off. So, he did what every new,
intelligent, insightful coach would do. He called his mentor coach.
Here’s what Jake came to
understand. Sometimes we want so much for our clients and staff to be happy,
satisfied, and successful that we have a tendency to instill our own agenda
into the coaching process. If it sounds similar to having an attachment, you’re
correct. However, the attachment in this situation is about wanting more for
your clients or employees than they want for themselves or are ready for.
Sure, you’re committed to being a
resource and delivering value to each of your salespeople, especially when
coaching them. This is certainly the right mindset to have when coaching.
However, the pendulum of extremities can swing even further. In this situation,
you become so committed to delivering value when coaching your salespeople that
you’re now making it about you and
how much value you must deliver. In
turn, the coaching call is now being driven by your agenda instead of an agenda
created by the person you are coaching. It’s a subtle yet vital distinction.
In truth, the real measurement of
value derived from the coaching relationship is determined by the person you
are coaching and how that person defines value, not how you define it. While
this may sound counterintuitive, you need to surrender your attachment to
delivering value and let it be co-created organically during each coaching
Checkpoint: If feeling drained or tired
at the end of every coaching session, you’re probably bringing your own agenda
to your coaching conversations.
There is a big difference between
being committed to your people and wanting to support them, and giving them
more than they are ready for. An example could look like this. You may have a
salesperson who is very content and satisfied making a yearly income of
$150,000. However, you also have salespeople on your team making twice that
much, which tells you that the opportunity exists for this salesperson to make
an income of $300,000; it can be done because others are doing it. You may look
at this salesperson as an underperformer, someone you feel you need to coach so
he can be more successful and make more money. Or maybe you have your own sales
goals to hit and this salesperson, although a consistent performer, could make
your life easier if he just sold more.
This is a blind spot for many
managers and executives. Maybe this salesperson is making more money each year
than he ever thought possible or more than he thought he would ever make in a
lifetime. Maybe he isn’t driven or motivated by money the way other salespeople
are and feels content with his income without having to sacrifice his personal
life. His career currently supports his lifestyle, gives him a personal sense
of fulfillment, and enables him to contentedly achieve his goals.
In a different situation, you may
discover that a goal one of your salespeople initially shared with you is no
longer applicable. Sure, it may have been a goal she thought she wanted at the
time but when she explored what it would take to achieve that goal, she
realized it wasn’t what she really wanted after all. Whether it had to do with
the additional resources needed, time investment, skill development, realistic
results, or what she would have to give up in pursuit of this dream, this
salesperson now realized that abandoning the goal would be in her best
interest. Having this realization during a coaching session is the real value
that you have delivered. For her, it was a breakthrough regardless of whether
you feel it was valuable enough.
The real measurement of value derived
from the coaching relationship is determined by the person you are coaching,
Even though coaching is about
stretching and challenging people to attain more than they would be able to on
their own, sometimes what they can achieve, what they want to achieve, and what
is in their best interest are in conflict with each other. Therefore, when
coaching people, it is not always about what is possible, realistic, or
attainable. Instead, it becomes more about what your employees want, what they
need, and what is most aligned with their personal and professional vision.
Subsequently, this determines the focus of your coaching and helps define the
right priorities for them.
In other instances, some coaches
are so driven to provide value that they often give the person they are
coaching the answers prematurely or feel they have to jump in and fix something
in order to demonstrate their value as a coach. Here’s an example. It is very
common for me to have a coaching session with a client where I do nothing more
than listen. Maybe I’ll ask the client two or three questions to drive the
conversation forward, but that would be all the talking I would do during a
40-minute coaching session. The rest of the time is spent listening.
Inevitably, at the end of the call I would hear, “Thanks for a great call!
I got so much value from our time today. I really appreciate all the help you
What did I actually do here? All
I did was ask three questions, and spend the majority of the session listening.
As a new coach, it may be hard to believe that simply being a sounding board is
a powerful part of the coaching process. Think about this concept for a moment.
How many people do you have in your life that you can talk with openly and
honestly and share your innermost thoughts, fears, and dreams without worrying
whether you are going to be judged or evaluated? Some people are very fortunate
to have friends and family members who can act as sounding boards. Yet, they
too may have their own agenda. Keep in mind that sometimes all a person wants
is to be listened to and understood.
Everyone needs a safe place to
share what’s going on in their heads. In turn, they come to their own solutions
or conclusions. Creating a safe place during a coaching conversation where your
salespeople can talk openly and freely without feeling vulnerable is one of the
most powerful coaching strategies. It promotes self-exploration and facilitates
Align your coaching around the person’s
goals and individuality, rather than attempting to fit them into your style of
Just as your clients and staff
will come to you with different goals, needs, problems, expectations, and
objectives, every person you coach will move at a certain pace. Individuals
will have their own ways that make them comfortable in which they process and
internalize information as they travel down their path of personal discovery
As a sales coach, you want to
deliver value when working with your sales team. To do so, you must first establish
what value means to them and what they are expecting from the coaching
Align your coaching around the
person’s goals and personality, rather than trying to fit their goals and
individuality into your style of coaching. If you don’t, you risk setting your
salespeople up for failure. You may also find yourself passing judgment on the
people you coach.