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  • Selling BEYOND Survival: The Essential System for High-Activity Sales Professionals
    Selling BEYOND Survival: The Essential System for High-Activity Sales Professionals
    by Lance Cooper
  • Sales Coaching: Making the Great Leap from Sales Manager to Sales Coach
    Sales Coaching: Making the Great Leap from Sales Manager to Sales Coach
    by Linda Richardson
  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't
    Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't
    by Jim Collins
  • Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization
    Wooden on Leadership: How to Create a Winning Organization
    by John Wooden
  • Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
    Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
    by Seth Godin
  • Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization
    Tribal Leadership: Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization
    by Dave Logan, John King, Halee Fischer-Wright
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (J-B Lencioni Series)
    The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (J-B Lencioni Series)
    by Patrick Lencioni
  • Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
    Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
    by Carol Dweck
  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Collins Business Essentials)
    Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Collins Business Essentials)
    by Robert B. Cialdini
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
    The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
    by Charles Duhigg
  • This Year I Will...: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True
    This Year I Will...: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True
    by M.J. Ryan
  • The Carrot Principle: How the Best Managers Use Recognition to Engage Their People, Retain Talent, and Accelerate Performance [Updated & Revised]
    The Carrot Principle: How the Best Managers Use Recognition to Engage Their People, Retain Talent, and Accelerate Performance [Updated & Revised]
    by Adrian Gostick, Chester Elton
  • The Accidental Sales Manager: How to Take Control and Lead Your Sales Team to Record Profits
    The Accidental Sales Manager: How to Take Control and Lead Your Sales Team to Record Profits
    by Chris Lytle

"You can coach salespeople - you can help them get better."

Coaching Sales Tweets
Selling BEYOND Survival

In Selling BEYOND Survival, I explain the attitudes, skills, and steps in a high-activity sales system - one that focuses sales time on essential activities. Please buy the book. Learn to lay down at night knowing you have an excellent chance of earning money for your needs and not your company’s budget requirements. Get better. Sharpen your saw. Chop wood, carry water, enjoy the fire. Lance.


Coaching Salespeople, Mentoring Salespeople, Managing Salespeople, or Leading Salespeople - Part I

Imagine a young eleven year old playing baseball and his coach standing in the third base batter’s box. An eleven year old boy will eat dirt if the coach suggests it.  He’s very impressionable with an open heart waiting to learn. He rides to the games and practices with his Dad many times each week. When he plays he really want to do good for those that watch him - especially his Dad.

He steps in the batters box and looks back to get his signal. Each time he swings at the ball or takes a pitch he hears instruction over his left shoulder from third base. He also hears Dad spray comments with his mouth and nose pressed into the fence behind the umpire. In years when his Dad was the coach, this scene intensified before, during, and after the games and practices.

In some games, the tones around him rise to shrill displays of frustration and impatience. His Dad and his coach pound on him for results each doing so in a different way - one from behind the plate the other from third base. The boy wants to do good but gradually fear mounts up upon his chest and rides there throughout the season.


Have you every watched someone freeze at the plate?  Have you ever seen a whole team freeze?  I have and it’s not pretty to watch, especially when you’re the coach or the manager.

I’ve watched sales managers build similar environments with little encouragement, praise, mentoring, or coaching. They give lots of directives and constantly pound on their reps for results. Even managers with a rah-rah spirit often seem over-bearing and crude because they forget to coach skills, mentor attitudes, and address the sales reps' issues and barriers to performance.

As a result, salespeople quit, treat customers poorly, talk about leadership, or shrink to mediocre levels of performance. They stop operating as a team. Co-worker and customer issues and complaints rise, sales drop, and budgets are missed. A sales manager’s day and evening get crowded with putting out fires, dealing with high levels of turnover; and sometimes, in extreme cases, with high customer returns and low sales.

These negative effects occur until finally the sales managers develop as leaders and coaches. They develop and teach the sales reps a sales process and the skills within it leading to results. As reps learn and get better, their coaches provide encouragement and praise for their incremental progress. Their sales leaders also explain why to do things in a certain way and to do them with a service attitude and teamwork. Standards are explained and enforced for the benefit of all stakeholders. Their managers work to remove performance barriers and support their resource needs. They listen to them.

From the time their managers begin to take a leader’s initiative toward serving their interests, sales reps begin to respond to direction. This response begins in gradual steps as they test the strength of the new culture’s values and beliefs the leaders' commitment.  Turnover then slows, sales increase, and as time passes the new culture begins to attract candidates wanting sales positions within the company.


I’ve seen this occur for a Little League baseball team and for a corporate sales team. When it happens, the concrete results are sweet. Teams win, fans enjoy watching, and the players love the game. You can learn to do this. Do it.  Lance.


When Coaching Salespeople Recruit Genetics 2nd for a Great Sales Culture but Still Recruit Character FIRST!

Culture Effect of ...
Sales Cycles • Personality Traits • Recruiting

Fast Sales Cycle

High-activity sales leaders and managers coach salespeople within a fast sales cycle of less than 90 days. Their recruits behave like Kentucky Thoroughbreds.  Quick off the starting line and out the gate - the best get to the finish line fast and then prepare to start the race again each and every month.

A healthy sales culture working an accelerated sales cycle contains recruits and reps best suited to handle a blistering pace of prospects, appointments, presentations, and new customer set-ups.  It contains those people with the right genetic makeup to take care of multiple prospect and customer interactions and to do so with a confidence and a smile.

Personality Traits

After many years of using validated profiles, here are four (4) personality traits to recruit for that reduce stress and increase performance.

1.  Goal-Orientation trait - enjoys jumping out of the starting blocks and getting to the end point as quickly as possible - not thinking about processes but about fast decisions with an eye out for finishing as soon as possible.  Want to close the deal.

2.  Social Confidence trait - enjoys telling people what to do and can ask the tough questions, give presentations, handle concerns, and deal with prospect or customer challenges in difficult situations.  Can tell someone what to do and when to do it.

3.  Social Drive trait - enjoys being around people even after work. Loves recognition and being in front of an audience. Is energized with networking and spending time with prospects and customers.

4.  Need to Control trait - enjoys independent decision-making and getting things in the selling environment moving in the particular direction they desire (with social confidence and goal-orientation It contributes to closing a deal)

When a sales manager first sees these traits they make an intuitive impression for their genetic power in a high-activity sales role.  For example, what if someone did not like to move fast to goals and end-points, but was more process-oriented?  How do you feel that would affect consistent sales performance each month and job stress?  

What if someone did not like to be around lots of people and had a low social drive, but their sales goal required them to see 10-15 new people per month and to prospect at levels necessary to sustain that appointment rate?  How do you see this person doing as a rep?  Would they feel extra pressure?

Yes, some horses are born to race and others are born to plow - some dogs are born to hunt and others are born to sit in the palm of your hand.  Work hard at a best practice recruitment process and it will make a positive difference for your culture and your results.  You can do this, but still recruit character first.  Lance.


Part V - Recruit Character First and Shape a High-Performance Sales Culture!

Recruit CHARACTER First
Why?  What does this mean?  How does character affect sales performance, branding, and teamwork?

For twenty years, I coached baseball from Little League to high school - hundreds of baseball games and practices.  I saw character displayed on and off the field.  In games that were tough, the same players that played well in blow away games gave up to their emotions in close ones.  When things were tough and difficult, they complained, threw their bats, and gave up at the plate.  I discovered that a team of men with characteristics like perseverance, self-discipline, personal responsibility, and a hard work ethic were worth far more than a team of “talented” players.  It’s the same with soldiers in a battle and salespeople in a market.  Character defines a culture.  It wins wars and makes a profitable difference over the long term.

Despite high skills and sales experience, with lower maturity levels on their sales teams, sales leaders deal with production and ethical issues.  Rep arrive late to work, to appointments, and to sales meetings.  They act like internal terrorists and gossip.  They talk in negative ways about the company without facing leadership with their complaints.  They lie.  With uncontrolled emotions, they create elevated customer issues that hurt a company’s brand.  When prospecting gets difficult, they quit, complain, take time off, or show a lack of discipline and perseverance.  Some reps exhibit a poor work ethic resulting in low or inconsistent performance levels.  Sales leaders, experiencing the effects of poor character, end up putting out fires and dealing with multiple problems resulting from bad attitudes and behaviors.  As a result, some hang themselves from the nearest bridges with the names of “talented” reps on their chests.

We can overcome the societal shapings in our new reps by first paying attention to character traits during recruitment.  In other words, we recruit reps with greater maturity.  To do this, we use various recruitment tools to look for appropriate levels of …

  1. Honesty
  2. Hard work ethic
  3. Personal responsibility (or conscientiousness)
  4. Servant attitudes

When recruiting great sales leaders, business owners and sales vice presidents look for two additional character traits:

  • Positivity  (has a 'can-do it's my ship) attitude even in the face of adversity - looks for solutions - supports leadership)
  • Humility (allows reps to feel a sense of accomplishment and pushes recognition onto them)

(a skill example during your recruitment process)

In your interviews, work to uncover emotional commitments and responsibilities tied to specific income levels.  In other words, do reps need to make a certain amount of money for a very important reason?  Do they have a motivational need to excel at a certain level?  Are the candidate’s income needs, when translated into sales targets, above minimum standards for sales performance?

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great,  said that his team’s research found that great companies recruit character first - before skills.  The United States Marines do this as well - they recruit character and then teach the mission to those that have what it takes to be a Marine.

Dr. Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., and CEO of Emotional Intelligence Services, has written a sequel to his famous book, Emotional Intelligence (definition here), entitled Working with Emotional Intelligence.  In his book, Dr. Goleman mentions a rather unusual study began in the 1950’s.  Eighty (80) Phd candidates were given many tests, I.Q., personality, and psychological.  Along with checking intelligence and personality types, they also measured emotional balance and maturity, integrity, and interpersonal effectiveness.  Forty years later, when these former PhD candidates had reached their early 70’s, they were reassessed and emotional intelligence abilities were found to be about 4 times more important than IQ in determining professional success and prestige (even with scientists). 

Ernest O. Lawrence, the Nobel laureate who founded the labs at Berkeley that bear his name, said this “In scientific wok, excellence is not about technical competence, but character.”  Recruit character first - then personality traits and competency strengths.

You can learn to recruit character first.  Make your sales culture healthy and attractive to new recruits.  Improve performance without your presence.  Make your coaching more effective with the 'right' people as reps.  You will sleep better.  Lance.


Part IV - 10 Youthful Performance Issues in Today's Salespeople

A breakup in the family structure, the nurturing and forming area for children, creates incalculable effects on our nation’s sales teams and new pressures on sales leadership.  Children do not mature with the character traits required for appropriate growth as a sales professional.  "The scale of marital breakdowns in the West since 1960 has no historical precedent that I know of, and seems unique," says Lawrence Stone, the noted Princeton University family historian (see "MenSight" magazine).  These changes affect the formation of values and beliefs leading to effective collaboration, service to others, and perseverance when making and fulfilling commitments.

One third of America’s children are growing up  without their biological father.  

"There has been nothing like it for the last 2,000 years, and probably longer."  Life without father leaves a  negative competency imprint upon those pursuing adulthood.  In David’s Popenoe’s book, Life Without Father, he gives compelling new evidence that “growing up without a father may be a root cause of many social ills - from crime to academic failure.”   Many studies show that the decline of fatherhood is a major force behind many of the most disturbing problems that plague American society: crime; premature sexuality and out-of-wedlock births to teenagers; deteriorating educational achievement; depression, substance abuse and alienation among adolescents; and the growing number of women and children in poverty.   The United States Center for Disease Control reports that 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes.  Studies involving over 25,000 children, who lived with only one parent had lower grade point averages, lower college aspirations (ambition), poor attendance records, and higher drop out rates than students who lived with both parents.

Effect on Sales Team Performance
These changes leave a negative imprint on the character available for our nation’s sales teams. Attachment to a moral code has diminished.  Guyland has appeared.  The family structure has eroded.  Fathers are absent.   We find emotional and behavioral problems formed at childhood and carried into an extended time for children to remain boys and girls.  Sales managers work with an entitled pool of young boys and girls, ages 21-28, in need of a mentor and for the first time in American business, a dad-coach.
As they read the new books on coaching and embrace this competency, sales managers face the following 10 challenges.  We call these ...

“10 Youthful Performance Issues in Today’s Salespeople.” 

Our young sales recruits do not:

1.  Have obligations or clear emotional attachments to sales and income goals.
2.  Give consistent effort and then persevere during setbacks.  Instead they complain or quit.
3.  Display mature behavior and emotional control during customer service issues.
4.  Show up on time.
5.  Have an understanding of what it takes to reach high expectations and achieve their dreams.
6.  Possess political or interpersonal savvy necessary to lead or to gain respect and influence.
7.  Listen well and interpret the needs of teammates or those they serve.
8.  Sacrifice time and effort to win the hearts of customers and co-workers.
9.  Seek to exceed customer expectations.  They do just enough to get by and make the sale.
10. Expect that goals require hard work.  Instead they expect an easy path to riches and fun.

What should those responsible for sales performance and a company’s brand do with this information?

Recruit CHARACTER first (see upcoming post).  Use a multi-step recruiting systems, including well thought out source channels, to separate those with greater maturity and emotional competence.  Then, learn the philosophy and system for great mentoring and sales coaching.  Also, put very mature people in charge of sales teams.  (Check out this article: "Five Considerations for Selecting a Great Sales Manager")



Part III - Coaching Salespeople to Win Today ... REQUIRES Mentoring Character Development

... in a very special way - without judgement and with care and concern for their well-being.

We have many cultural changes affecting today’s sales forces.  For example, religious affiliation and commitment to a set of standards and moral values is decreasing (see Barna statistics).  This contributes to a cultural loss in customer service values, honesty, hard work ethic, and personal responsibility (see U.S. debt levels).

Even our sports heroes (Tiger Woods) or political figures (President Clinton) suffer embarrassing failures in front of their admirers - failures that when endured by our leaders create new cultural norms for the people that follow them.  These “new” norms, established by today’s legends, denigrate the “older” values of integrity, fidelity, loyalty, and teamwork.  Ross Perot once remarked, “If a woman cannot trust her man, why should I trust him.”

Michael Kimmel, in his research and book Guyland, has identified a new social stratum which affects 22 million young men ages 16-26.  Men mature later today.  They live together in a state of suspended boyhood - out of college - yet still acting as if they still belong there.  For many, they job hop, live with their parents into their late 20’s, stay single, drink an extended number of nights each week, and dive into sports, online games, or fantasy.  Fewer boys grow up with mentors or dads.  All of this has profound meaning for sales managers and leaders.  It affects an attachment to responsibility and reduces achievement drive levels.  It impacts sales.

When I am quizzing young salespeople and sales leaders in their 20’s, I see no goals, low commitment, and an entitlement mindset unlike the values and beliefs of two generations before.  However, they know something “ain’t quite right.”

Look on the bookshelves on in the digital libraries for sales management today and what subjects do you find ... coaching, mentoring, and leadership.  Stay tuned for the posts ahead and please tell me what you see as we discuss cultures, character, recruiting salespeople, and coaching high performance.

In the meantime, get in the trenches with your reps ... improve your character and emotional competencies.  Find your leadership and lift others up with you.  Lance