Keith Rosen, named one of the most influential coaches by Inc. magazine and Fast Company, shared his insights with Britta Lorenz on how to become a great leader that truly coaches his or her team towards their goals and to maximize each person’s potential in our remote world. These skills are especially helpful in supporting your salespeople (and yourself) through the uncertainty and fear this pandemic has created.
There are some fundamental skills and habits that sales leaders need to reflect upon and develop in order to become a world-class coach. Oftentimes, managers take the wrong approach to coaching. Here is Rosen's advice on how to shift your mindset on coaching, and thus transform your understanding of what coaching is, how to do it effectively and why to do it to achieve breakthrough results
“Coaching is the art of creating new possibilities and the language of leadership.” – Keith Rosen
In Rosen’s own words, coaching and selling are a language, the conversation where you’re of creating new opportunities for your customers, team and organization, in every conversation. Considering his definition most organizations and managers are using the wrong approach, simply because they don’t understand what coaching truly is.
Coaching is not an event, nor is it something you DO to someone. Rather it happens in every conversation simply by shifting your language from leading with answers, to leading with questions. . As a leader, when you upgrade the way you communicate, and how you think about what coaching really is, you are always coaching.
Every conversation is the chance to coach. You can use every possibility to ask your salespeople questions that empower them to self-reflect and create solutions on their own. One of the best skills to cultivate within your team is to be a critical thinker. However, before you become a critical thinker, you first need to become a critical questioner., since the answer you get is only as good as the question you ask.
Organizations needs to upgrade their internal definition of the term so that it is aligned with everyone in the organization.
Resign from your role as the ‘chief problem solver’ of your team
Every manager needs to refrain from becoming the ‘chief problem solver’. This behavior is born out of the typical sales-background of a manager. Especially since most sales managers were good salespeople, they are used to being result-driven and giving answers, and therefore assume that these traits are also required of a sales leader. Unfortunately, when managers aren’t training in the skill or coaching, then they will continue to create a team of salespeople dependent on them. And you can’t scale dependence.
However, true coaching addresses the process which produces results as a biproduct, and this requires a different set of skills. You coach the process, not the result.
Every sales manager’s dream is to have a team of independent, accountable, and self-motivated individuals, but being the chief problem solver robs you of the chance to develop such a team. Avoid building a culture of dependency on the manager and increase their sense of responsibility by creating the habit of coaching and questioning, that builds their skills, confidence, accountability and independence of a sales champion.
Prepare the next bench of leaders
According to Keith, the evolution of sales training is sales coaching. Selling has become a more complex and personal process, especially in our remote world. The greatest salespeople are now coaching their customers to succeed. They recognize that they need to frame their solution around their customer’s problem, so they use deeper questions to connect with each prospect and customer in a more personal, authentic way. Additionally, well-coached salespeople also remove themselves from the equation of the transaction, alternatively shifting the focus towards the value they can deliver. Doing so, avoids salespeople making the sales process about them, and what they have to gain, rather than what they can give. This also reduces call reluctance and the pressure to perform.
Build a promising future for your organization by bringing more focus on coaching your salespeople. But to do so, every salesperson needs to be trained in the art, skill, language and habit of coaching.
When their time comes for a promotion, they will be ready to face the challenges of a leader with the appropriate mindset, acumen, and skills.
Enrollment, trust, and setting intentions
To create alignment and buy-in around change, it’s essential for every manager set proper expectations and intentions of every conversation they initiate, whether with the team, or during one on one conversations or coaching sessions. This also applies to interactions with customers, peers, your boss, and colleagues in other departments.
Especially with today’s uncertainty, if your intentions aren’t clear people default to fear and your selfish, negative intentions. Since everyone has their own agenda, values, commitments, we all need to practice more care and empathy to connect and collaborate more effectively. Leaders need to collaborate with their salespeople on the best suitable ways to coach. Try next time to frame a conversation around these three steps to enrolling people in positive change:
- Here is what we need to do
- Why we are doing it
- Here is what is in it for you
In addition, there needs to be genuine emphasis on supporting their goals and career. Your salespeople will find it easier to trust your managing and coaching efforts once you start setting positive intentions. Especially in the current pandemic situation, managers need to have direct and special conversations in order to build a functioning, remote sales team.
Rosen found in one of his recent studies that in our new world, employees rated ‘care as the most valuable trait of their manager, so they feel supported and not isolated or alone. . The professional relationships within an organization need to be nurtured and maintained by creating a caring of a caring culture. Both managers and employees should feel comfortable enough to reach out and say outright what they need. This level of transparency requires every manager to develop the trust they need to effectively coach their team.
If you don’t initiate certain conversations or conversations you feel may be difficult, if you wait too long to receive what you need, you may wait your entire career because it is very difficult for leaders to see what other people need when they don’t get what they need themselves.
Face the challenges of the pandemic together
Issues such as missed quotas and disengaged employees are amplified in the circumstances of the pandemic. We are all facing difficulties coping with the consequences of working from home for a prolonged period. Everyone on your team, salesperson and manager alike, can use this situation to have a deeper connection and find suitable coaching methods.
The Personal Connection when Selling and Managing
With everyone working in the virtual workspace, you are inviting other people into your home. Managers now have unfiltered exposure and access to your lives and the homes of your customers. This is why conversations in this environment need to change. We need to start asking questions such as:
- What have you been struggling with during this situation as I’m sure that I feel some of the same problems too.
- How do you switch off at the end of the day?
- How are you setting boundaries with the people you live with? How do they respect the space you need while you are working?
- How are you practicing extreme self-care?
- How detailed is your daily routine to ensure you are maximizing your productivity at work, without compromising your personal values priorities and what’s most important to you?
- How can I best support you and be the best leader I can while working remotely?
In order to reach your goals, you create a weekly recurring a routine, pinpointing every activity you engage in from the moment you wake up until you go to bed. This will maintain harmony, balance, consistency and structure in a life that is confined to your own home.
The sales slump and confidence
According to Mr. Rosen, confidence is a social construct. We’ve all been taught the wrong meaning and definition of confidence. We have been basing our own confidence and self-worth on results, which has consequentially led to our inability to maintain the confidence we need, unconditionally, regardless of results. we rely on external factors, success, our role, what we’ve achieved to determine our personal worth, confidence and internal conditional. We need to make an inner shift in our thinking that confidence is a choice, regardless of results. Adopt a new definition of confidence to make it unconditional and avoid surrendering your personal power. I choose to be confident, because I choose to be confident without the evidence to support it, and I’ve already proven my value and self-worth. . One quote that perfectly underlines this mindset, “ I am happy before I have a reason” – Hafez.
5 final takeaways for all leaders and coaches
- 60-second coaching strategy: If you have time to give an answer, then you have time to coach and ask a question. . Take the effort to ask for their own opinion and explore their options collaboratively. For example, “You’re much closer to this situation and I trust you and your judgment. What’s your opinion on how to achieve the results you want here?”
- Avoid closing your people and start coaching them. Are you guiding them with questions that will take them to where you want to be (manipulation, Closing) or are you asking open ended, non-loaded questions to open the conversation to a collaboration that creates new possibilities. Choose. There is no such thing as ‘cloaching’.
- Tap into your team’s individuality. Stop managing and coaching in your own image. Ask questions to your salespeople to uncover how they want to be supported, motivated, and held accountable.
- Stop making assumptions about what you think you know about your people and customers. Validate assumptions by asking questions. You’re either assessing by asking questions in every conversation, or you’re assuming the fact.
- The primary objective of a sales leader is to coach your team to become more valuable every day. Ask yourself every morning “What can I do to make my people my valuable than they were yesterday?
About Keith Rosen
Keith Rosen is the CEO of Profit Builders, which is named as one of the Best Leadership Coaching organizations worldwide. Over the past three decades, Keith has coached over 3 million managers and salespeople in over 75 countries. He’s the author of Own Your Day, Coaching Salespeople into Sales Champions, the #1 best-selling sales management coaching book on Amazon and Sales Leadership, which was named Amazon’s 2018 Sales Leadership Book of the Year. Find more resources at KeithRosen.com and make sure you download his new book, The 60 Second Sales Coach!
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