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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Using Radical Candor to Drive Sales Performance and Grow People

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If you have ever worked with me you know I am a sucker for strong feedback and coaching. Here’s why. 

People are the foundation of any sales organization and if the people don’t grow, the organization can’t either. One of the very best ways to grow people is to provide them with strong, consistent, and targeted feedback so they can adjust their style, adapt their approach, and turn their talent into performance. 

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to work with an exceptional manager whose secret weapon for growing people is effective feedback. His genuine caring combined with his never-miss-a-thing insight can be life-changing for those who work for him. 

I was anxious to better understand what he did so naturally and most others struggled to do at all, so I pummeled him with questions. And he let me in on his secret.

This manager built his career on two principles. 

  1. Praise: People need to receive specific and positive feedback from their manager when they do things right in order to consistently repeat those positive behaviors.
  2. Criticism: A manager has a “moral obligation” to be upfront and honest with their employees when providing them with corrective coaching.

Moral obligation? I wanted to hear more.

Topics: sales management Talent coaching

Employee Morale and Retention – Money Talks, but Caring is Key

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Have you ever watched a TV show and been able to connect a character’s behavior to something specific in your life or work experience? I had that happen to me recently. If you watch the Bravo reality series, Flipping Out, you are familiar with Jeff Lewis and his reputation for being opinionated, outspoken, slightly neurotic with a quick, dry wit and a direct communication style. I actually love his personality! However, he can easily rub others the wrong way and he often has major conflict with those closest to him. 

On a recent episode, Jeff admitted how valuable his design assistant Vanina is to him and how much he relies on her for the success of his business. He explained that he’d recently given her a substantial raise to let her know just how much he appreciates her. Regardless, in this episode, she broke down in tears and admitted she was ready to leave because she felt overworked and underappreciated. 

Topics: sales management Talent coaching

If Your Sales Team Was in the NFL, Would You Make the Playoffs?

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If you ask me, it’s the best time of the year… the NFL season is here! Tailgating, road trips, barbecue, fantasy football, the joy of victory, the agony of defeat! Every team, or at least the diehard fan, is overflowing with optimism that “this will be the year!” The NFL is home to the best of the best, but only 12 teams will make the playoffs, and one and only one will be left standing in Minneapolis after Super Bowl LII (that’s 52 for those that would have to look it up like me).

Would your sales team make the playoffs, or perhaps even make it to the Super Bowl? Fans who are passionate about the “Xs and Os” of football know there are great “game plan coaches” and great “game day coaches.” The best are great at both. They have a great plan (game week), and great execution (game day). To be a great sales leader, you need a great plan AND great execution. You can’t just give the pre-game speech, and you certainly can’t coach in hindsight after all the points are on the board (think month-end revenue). You have to be a great game day coach, ON THE FIELD!  The best sales plan in the world will only get you so far. Here are the keys to being the best game day sales coach you can be.

Topics: sales management coaching

Why The Talent of Problem Solving is Essential for Sales Performance

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You have a salesperson who has a great, positive attitude. The clients love this salesperson, and he or she does a great job at getting that first appointment and building a relationship with clients.  BUT when clients or coworkers come to this person with an issue, it ruins his or her day — it gets them completely off track and the salesperson just can’t seem to find the way back. What’s the problem?!  Is the individual's positivity not as high as it should be? Is discipline the issue? Actually, what you are seeing may all come back to their problem solving ability.

Topics: hiring salespeople Talent coaching

3 Ways to Help Top Salespeople Perform at Their Best

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Recently I went to my daughter’s last soccer game of the season and it was thrilling to see how much the girls have grown in the past year. They are a talented group with a couple of great coaches who have helped them develop their talent. 

The day of the game, their moves on the field were impressive. They were superstars, but I noticed during halftime that despite incredible talent on the field, one of the girls needed help tying her shoes. Without hesitation, her coach bent down and tied them. This same child dribbled the ball around everyone and scored twice against a great defense, but she still needed some very basic help from her coach before she could get back in the game.   

Sometimes you have to tie shoelaces to be a good coach!  

It immediately made me think about coaching a talented sales team. 

Their strengths are impressive. The more you coach them, the more they grow, but each one of them may need very specific support and coaching in order to perform at their best.

How do you get even more out of your top performers?

Topics: Talent coaching

Why Now Is The Time To Incorporate Analytics Into Your Sales Coaching Process

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The statistics surrounding the effectiveness and prevalence of sales coaching are quite startling. Research indicates that reps who have access to highly effective coaches perform 19% better than others on average. Yet surveys also indicate that approximately 25% of sales managers don’t employ any kind of coaching process.

Topics: sales management coaching

3 Steps to Make Sure Individual Focus Meetings are Never Mediocre

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Every week or two, in nearly every sales organization across the country, sales managers and salespeople sit down together for their regularly scheduled individual focus meetings.

You’re familiar with these meetings, so let me ask you... in your opinion, do your salespeople look forward to them? Are they anxious to share valuable information and discuss next steps in order to ensure they are moving business forward? For the most part, would you say they are a good use of everyone’s time?

Many will answer, “No.”

In my experience, both salespeople and sales managers often find themselves dreading these one-on-one meetings because they feel as though they are a waste of their time.

Topics: sales management Talent coaching

An Inconvenient Truth In Coaching Salespeople

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Most managers who have been around for a while understand that if salespeople are going to grow their skills they are going to need some coaching. If you think about it, every endeavor that involves performance against a standard, winning or losing, or rising to significance, begins with a talented performer coached by someone who provides accurate feedback and helpful coachingfrom athletics, to music, to business. If you watch how real coaching actually happens, you see the coach is always in a position to observe the performer first hand. Athletic coaches coach their people on the field, not in the office. The same goes with any other disciplineexcept for sales. 

Topics: sales management coaching

Sales Promotion or Sales Prevention?

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As a sales leader whose responsibility is generating revenue, you would most likely answer that you are a Sales Promoter. But are you? Has an obstacle course actually been created that prevents your sales people from selling? Sales Prevention sounds like an oxymoron, but it exists in many sales cultures.

Sales Prevention exists when there is a misalignment between the sales manager and salespeople's challenges and priorities. Jim Hopes, Managing Partner of The Center for Sales Strategy, conducted a study based on the responses of 400 sales professionals. The results showed that of the top four responses regarding challenges, only one intersected between the sales manager and salespeople.

Topics: successful sales meetings sales management coaching

When Pigs Fly: Really? Why You Should Focus on Your People's Strengths

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Sometimes the most revelatory meanings come from parables. Storytelling is an art and has been a part of the human experience since cave men started drawing pictures on cave walls, since troubadours roamed the countryside telling stories through their songs. Storytelling helps us make sense of the world.

One of the most effective ways of telling a story is through a parable. It’s a short, allegorical piece meant to teach a lesson. It’s told in words that convey images people can easily understand and often include animals and nature like "The Three Little Pigs" and "The Grasshopper and the Ant."

Topics: Talent Sales coaching