MARK DONNOLO: How do you create or develop a culture in an organization that’s comfortable with coaching?

ERNIE RIDDLE: I think one way is to measure those things. Quarterly we would look at the results of our measurement tool. Different parts of the organization would be measured each quarter. First thing on the charts were these behavior kinds of things – not how much money we made last quarter or how many sales were made or those sorts of things. Then that began to institutionalize this. “Hey you guys and gals better start talking about this stuff among yourselves and getting these programs on, because you don’t see your customer satisfaction results right up there. And oh by the way, in this 360-degree tool you guys and gals are making progress or you’re not making progress.”

It has to be finite and measured otherwise it’s illusive. It’s a soft need

The Sales Leadership Forum 84

but a very powerful need in the organization.

It’s like culture. Culture’s the most powerful thing in the company. More powerful than the CEO, more powerful than the customers, more powerful than everything. Until you granulize it and start moving toward it, it’s hard to get it done.

MARK DONNOLO: So you can have the numbers, you can have the mandate, how do you create an environment where it’s actually safe to be able to open up?

TSLF Member: I had two quick thoughts.

It’s the leader, and the leader has to show vulnerability. People want to emulate the leader. So I think

vulnerability of the leader is a big, big plus.

MARK DONNOLO: That’s a great point.

STEVE YOUNG: Your team knows your weaknesses already.

ERNIE RIDDLE: I think who gets promoted has a lot to do with it. If you’re sitting around in a room and Mo’s 190% of plan and Steve’s 150%

and has done a great job in his coaching and mentoring plan, as evidenced by some of these measurements, and Steve gets promoted – do a few of those and it wakes the organization up real fast.

MO BUNNELL: This is a culture question, and for getting traction we’ve found there’s a quick little four step process.

Once someone experiences this they

want more. And that’s the way to get a hold and change the culture part that you’re talking about.

In general you’re trying to provide the person you’re coaching with some kind of insight and they go, “Aha! Maybe I didn’t know it all. Maybe I do need to give this a try.”

While you’re talking to them, get some kind of commitment from them to try it really soon, like that week. And then you’re going to want to have a follow-up, which is a coach-based

consequence. And the coach-based consequence says, “Hey, ok, I get it. I can try that thing we’ve been talking about a little bit differently.”

“Do you have a meeting next week where you can try it out?”

“Well I’ve got this sales call on Tuesday next week with Wal-Mart.”

“Great. Let’s see if we can get you to try this out on Tuesday. Will you agree to try this?”

“Yes. I’ll try it.”

So you’re getting a commitment. The only way the person is going to try it is if you say, “Hey I’ll follow up on your next call when I see you, and I’ll ask if you tried it or not.” That’s a coach-based consequence.

It’s important to get the person to try it, but it’s not as powerful as this last step, an environment-based consequence. So this person tries this new behavior and it works, and they know you’re going to

The Sales Leadership Forum 85

follow up. Then if it actually works with the client, now you know they’re hooked and now they believe in the process. And you’re just working them through this time and time and time again. Insight after insight after insight.

And then they’re hooked and then they want more and more and more.

There’s behavioral science that’s underneath this, but once somebody experiences this they want more of it, because they realize they’re getting better, and they know they’re going to make more money.

MARK DONNOLO: So it’s the initial accountability to the coach. That, “I know I’m going to have to answer to him next week,” that gets him to do it.

MO BUNNELL: Yes. That’s the coach-based consequence.

I have a feeling we have a lot of people in the room who coach their kids on sports teams. If you’ve ever coached your kids’ sports team in basketball, imagine a middle schooler throws up a long three-pointer. Just comes down the floor and throws it up, and you say,

“Nooooo!” That’s the coach-based consequence.

But then it goes in. That’s an

environment-based consequence. So the kid’s more likely to shoot that three-pointer again because it worked.

So the coach-based is more temporary.

You’re just trying to get them to commit to doing something. But you know with 90% certainty that it will work. So then you get that environment-based

consequence, like the three-pointer, and then you know you’ve got them.

ERNIE RIDDLE: That’s a good analogy.

MO BUNNELL: We’ve looked at all kinds of different assessment tools, between 15 and two dozen. There are so many out there. A lot of sales organizations use Myers Briggs or DISC, frankly because they’re inexpensive. Myers Briggs is pretty much free and DISC is about $14.99 per person. But they don’t really tell the whole story.

We’ve looked the Hogan Birkman, a lot of the more prestigious assessment tools, but we like the Herrmann Brain Dominance Index. I think it’s by far the best. It just breaks down how somebody thinks. It’s a thinking assessment took.

I had a guy I coached pro bono at a nonprofit. I was doing some volunteer work. He had just gone through DISC about six months before and then he went through HBDI.

And I asked him the difference. And he said, “Well DISC sort of told me about me, but HBDI told me about me and everybody else and how I interact with them.”

When you have a tool as powerful as that, you can use it as a foundation in coaching. If someone is an analytical thinker, you can get them to not overanalyze and start thinking about relationships. If somebody is really heavy in relationships, you can get them to start thinking about process, strategy or analytics. But it gives them a

foundation, number one. It helps them

The Sales Leadership Forum 86

pick up the clues about how people buy based on how they think.

Once you have those clues you can sell in that fashion, and selling the way they think as opposed to the way you think.

TSLF Member: It’s very actionable. It’s sometimes hard to connect the dots between the output of a survey and what you can do with it. It can actually give you clues, walking into a person’s office to give you some better data about whether they’re a data-oriented person or whether they’re a people oriented person. I think that’s the simplicity of it. It’s interesting. If you look at that and compare it to the other instruments, they actually are sort of telling the same story.

MO BUNNELL: Right, it’s just not as clear. I agree.

EDDIE BIRCHFIELD: As a coach, you need to know how you are, because if you’re coaching someone who’s different, it would be very advantageous to understand not only how you are but how each individual person you’re coaching is.

MO BUNNELL: Right, it does two things.

One, it gives you a model that you can both talk about; it’s sort of shorthand, so you can immediately say things like,

“That buyer is blue,” or “that buyer’s yellow,” and boom! Everybody knows what that means, rather than explaining a model for 15 minutes each time.

But the second big benefit is it lets you, as the coach, point to the model rather

than at the person. And then, when you’re always talking about the model, you’re not necessarily always poking at the guy you’re trying to coach. Changes the entire dynamic.

EDDIE BIRCHFIELD: So that may be the structure you’re talking about.

People struggle with coaching. You tell a lot of sales execs, “Ok Eddie, you’re a sales manager. You’ve got to coach.”

“Ok I realize that, but I don’t know how to coach.” Or, “I coach the way I coach.”

But the people working for you are different than you. To be able to realize the differences will certainly make you a much more effective coach.

MARK DONNOLO: Let’s step back to the coaching program itself.

So there’s been some need you’ve seen.

Steve you pointed out now is the right time to do it.

How do you know what it is? Is it developing your own program? Is it using something that’s been developed by an expert? How do you know what the right approach is for your


STEVE YOUNG: We started it with the end in mind. Where do we want to get?

What’s the ideal? What are the results we want to get out of it?

We had a lot of discussions about whether we wanted to do it in-house or whether we would go outside. And frankly a lot of pragmatic circumstances

The Sales Leadership Forum 87

dictated what we did. If it was a time of good money we would go outside because a lot of times it was easier to buy it than to try and develop it. If it was a time of tight money, and everybody was looking for the consultants then we’d find a way to get it done ourselves.

My view on the whole things is there are a lot of models out there. You can argue whether it’s personality models or sales organizational models or selling style models; you can argue over the benefits or detriments of each one. But it’s important to agree on one and go down that road so that everybody has the same nomenclature and everybody has the same way of thinking.

It’s an iterative process. My advice is don’t be shy, don’t be egotistical, and take advice from everybody you can get.

MARK DONNOLO: You’ve got the decision of build versus buy. If you are to go the buy direction, how do you look at the options?

STEVE YOUNG: I can’t tell you I know how to do that. I’ve done it so many times and sometimes I’ve done it well and sometimes not so well. The worst person to be a buyer is a salesman because I get impressed by a good sales pitch and sometimes I didn’t realize there’s not a whole lot of meat behind the sales pitch.

In my case I look to the experts – the HR folks. The sales modeling people, the folks like Renee in my organization. I look to them for advice and then make my own assessment of it. I don’t have a short cut for you.

MO BUNNELL: There’s a middle ground, too. You can develop it completely internally or you can hire outside coaches. But there’s a middle ground that says hire people to train your people how to coach. And sometimes that can be the most effective.

What’s the right answer? It’s different for different people at different times.

But that’s a viable option.

MARK DONNOLO: Ernie, you’ve been in a number of great organizations. What have you seen in terms of the build versus buy, and how have you made that decision?

ERNIE RIDDLE: I think it’s what you said.

It’s almost individual to a company. If you have a larger company with more resources, then you can get advice from the outside and build your own.

Both sides of that equation work. But my view is the key to success is to start with the customer. Start with the customer needs and how the customer uses your sales organization; look at their behaviors and what behavior patterns will give you greater success in the marketplace. Then measure those tools from a customer, from an employee’s standpoint, and financial objectives as well.

Use that as criteria to evaluate outside programs and packages, that says after sitting with you here and listening to your sales pitch and talking to other customers, just use that as a key to evaluation.

The Sales Leadership Forum 88

These tools work in large and small organizations, I’ve found. This is a horizontal issue across all size organizations: how to get sales management into a position where they’re moving the behavior of sales reps to a higher plane.

And if you’ve got two sales people or 6,000 or 8,000, the same problems exist.

My advice to my colleagues is to move this into a sphere of consciousness. And it has to be more than bar talk. Talking about the behavior of the sales force, and culture change and coaching, et cetera, those are soft things, generally, in the business world. Because the phone rings on the 29th or the 30th of the month and he says, “Give me the forecast, and I want it by 8:00 in the morning and it better be high and not low.” Some of these kinds of

conversations basically melt in comparison to that.

Part of the leadership role, I think, is to cause these things not to melt so that they’ll become a more natural part of the conversation. And make sure they get the attention they deserve. I

understand you’ve got to pay the bills at the end of the month, but these things need attention.

The worst thing one can do, and I’ve been both a victim of this and have allowed it to happen one time, is to start and stop this kind of growth. It has to be a sustained effort: otherwise you’ll have an investment of time, energy and money that dissipates rapidly. A

snowball on the equator dissipates

rapidly – this goes even faster. Because you lose credibility at the organization, the trust level goes way down. I always advise those around me to stand up and make a commitment, a public

commitment to your sales organization.

So that you have that added pressure to carry these things out.

STEVE YOUNG: I think the key is absolutely building the credibility.

Because if you start and stop then you lose your audience. You’ve got to maintain it. And in the tough times you’ve got to build your credibility.

But also, the buy versus build. You have to make sure it fits into your system and fits into your culture. And that’s where you’ll have trouble, if you’re just going to buy it. You don’t want to have this thing inflicted upon your culture that your culture is just going to reject.

You’ve have to have the communication to make sure you’re all on the same page.

I think that’s the key. When folks see the reasons and see the consistency and continuity, that’s when you start to build your strength and reliability.

MARK DONNOLO: On the fit, a lot of methodologies will have sales processes already built in. “Here’s how we sell.”

What are your thoughts on either accepting that process or rebuilding that?

STEVE YOUNG: I’ve learned to sell about five different ways. I think there are a lot of good processes out there. I don’t think there’s that much difference between them. So in that case I would

The Sales Leadership Forum 89

accept it rather than saying, “Oh my god we’re different.” Because we’re

probably not different.

EDDIE BIRCHFIELD: Let me ask about coachability in promoting sales talent. In other words, have you looked at the ability to coach as a characteristic for promotion? We’re going to promote candidate A over B because of their ability to coach?

I’ve always maintained that succession planning is very difficult in a sales organization because you promote the best sales person, which oftentimes doesn’t make the best sales manager.

Look at athletic examples. The best coaches oftentimes weren’t the best players. Bobby Cox was a so-so baseball player, and Michael Jordan’s not

managing anybody. Did you ever look at that in succession?

STEVE YOUNG: Actually I read a

magazine article written by Jack Welch, about three years ago. He made it very clear – and if anybody has ever worked for GE they know he did this – you promote the people that not only perform, but that fit the values and the culture of the organization.

The article was about this hypothetical guy who always made his numbers but he went around always ticking

everybody off – he was a bull in a china shop. Versus the guy who has done well but was collaborative and has integrity and achievement and accountability and whatever the values of the organization.

And he said, “Unquestionably, you go with the person who fits the values.”

After reading that I thought, “You know, that makes a whole lot of sense.” You don’t take the person who fits the values and makes 20% of plan, but that’s how you get sustainability and credibility. Because, you all know that your folks are watching who you promote. And if you’re not walking the walk and just talking the talk, they’ll see through it.

ERNIE RIDDLE: I think one of those values has to be internalizing the ability to be coached. Because part of the key to this whole thing is, it’s often said, the best leader is also the best follower. I’ve found over the years a lot of times the best sales people, frankly they have this natural shield sometimes of rejecting coaching.

One of the criteria we look for is: can this person both receive and benefit from coaching? Regardless of what coaching is about. But attitudinally, do they have a learning attitude as

opposed to a knowing attitude? That’s a big difference. We used to measure that basically by running it by someone, asking, “Is this guy a learner or is he a knowledge guy already?” It makes a big difference.

MARK DONNOLO: In the development of the program itself, how do you involve management or people in the organization in the development? Is it something that happens in training and development or in the leadership of the sales organization, or do you find ways to bring field leaders in or people on the front line to increase the acceptance of

MARK DONNOLO: In the development of the program itself, how do you involve management or people in the organization in the development? Is it something that happens in training and development or in the leadership of the sales organization, or do you find ways to bring field leaders in or people on the front line to increase the acceptance of

In document Coaching Your Team Developing Sales Management and Strategic Sellers (Page 83-90)