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Sales Coaching - What Does it Take to Get Better?

Posted by Frank Belzer on Thu, Sep 08, 2011 @ 05:28 AM
Frank Belzer is the Sales Archaeologist and Author of Sales Shift.

karatekid“Wax on, wax off” – immortal words from the almost cult   classic, the Karate Kid. Do you remember how Mr. Miyagi slowly introduced his young student to the world of Karate? He was initially excited by the concept of being a highly trained and  very deadly Karate Expert. But as the mundane training wore   on and the doubts crept in he was weakened. Additionally    there were other pressures, the girl, the bullies and life at    home all played its part – but of course as in most movies he made it through!

Do you recall how some of the training didn't make sense? How some of the tasks seemed like chores with no connection to karate? It was only later that he realized how those simple exercises had really helped him.

The transformation from wimpy kid to sales expert is far more difficult and since it is not the movies most people don’t complete the journey.The transformation usually requires more than just knowledge, desire, commitment and skill - it requires a coach, a Mr. Miyagi if you will.

I was reading about someone that made that transition and you can read the story here.

I know that as Pete Caputa worked with my associate Rick who is not as mild or kind as Mr. Miyagi (extreme understatement)  there must have been times where he was close to breaking or saying get lost but he didn’t and he became a true black belt. The point is that being coached or trained is never easy – and yet the results can be amazing. The greater the sacrifice, the harder the trial the more incredible the reward will be. Here are a few tips – things you should expect and appreciate if you are going to benefit from a coaching program:

  • Learn to love criticism not hate it or resent it or get mad at it.
  • Learn to apply the criticism not ignore it.
  • Don’t use an exception to justify how the way you used to do it worked.
  • Don’t live in the past or even the present - live in the future and realize it is about getting where you need to be.
  • Until you try it don’t doubt it – even when you try it and it doesn’t work still don’t doubt it.
  • Realize in advance that some of the hard things you need to do will be really hard for you to do.
  • Accept the fact that it is not personal – it is business.

There are of course many more – these are simply the things that I most often see people failing to do and as a result they bale or fail to benefit from coaching.

Of course even a great coach cannot help someone that doesn't want to improve or get better. The only time coaching works is when you have two parties that both want to accomplish the goal together.

Rick is still coaching people and he is great at it – he has an upcoming group of Pete like disciples that are accepting the criticism, looking inward and growing as sales professionals. Oh and by the way, they are making a lot of money doing it.

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After all is said and done, it comes down to How badly do you want it? and How open-minded are you to the possibilities of improving yourself to attain "it"? Learning to love criticism is a difficult but necessary attribute. As far as how "hard" it's going to be: Henry Ford said, "If you think you can do a thing, or if you think you can't do a thing, you're right."

posted @ Thursday, September 08, 2011 6:34 AM by Robert Terson

Hey Frank. While I LOVE the post, I don't know that I deserve this much attention.  
I do remember vividly calling Rick after screwing up sales calls, asking him how to fix it, then going and doing it. Most of the time it worked, and even when it didn't, it was never Rick's fault. My job was to move on and find the next guy who needed what I had. I don't remember ever questioning Rick, unless I was just trying to understand why. Things started clicking after enough attempts and I never looked back. I've seen you and Rick help many others do the same and we're helping a lot of people realize and achieve the success they want!  
I agree with Robert, that it comes to "How badly do you want it?" Everyday, my team interviews marketing agencies about their business to see if it makes sense for us to partner. The main reason it doesn't happen, is because they don't want it bad enough. Of course, many are skeptical. But, most just aren't up for the challenge of:  
- writing down their financial goals and doing whatever it takes to make them happen 
- selling VALUE/ROI (instead of projects and tactics) upfront to their prospects, so they can secure recurring revenue/retainers 
- learning how do deliver new services that are required in order to deliver that ROI 
- investing $ in order to develop and learn the processes/systems they need to be as effective and efficient as they can be, and as their competitors are.  
- Having the discipline to pick up the phone and connect with suspects, turn them into prospects and sales opportunities, at the rate they need in order to hit their goals.  
It's been awesome to see all of the HubSpot VARs working with you and Rick who turn their struggling 1 man consulting businesses into profitable multi-employee agencies, or their 5 person agencies into 20 person (and still growing)firms!

posted @ Thursday, September 08, 2011 9:15 AM by Peter Caputa

Great post, Frank. The part about Rick being tougher than Mr. Miyagi made me chuckle - an understatement indeed! 
What I have learned through working with Rick, though, is that, while he is a tough coach, he is also encouraging and a "nice job" from him, or the elusive "I'm proud of you" will have me dancing all day.  
I'm still in the midst of my transformation from wimpy kid to sales ninja and while the coaching may be hard sometimes, the *doing* has been harder: getting myself to go outside my comfort zone and apply what I'm learning to achieve new results.  
I may have hit a turning point last week, though. I picked up the phone and, before I dialed I thought "what's the worst that could happen?" I thought through that worst case scenario, dialed the phone and then experienced that worst case scenario. All I could do when I hung up the phone, though, was giggle. Being on the other side of that call, I realized, well if *that* was the worst that could happen, that's pretty harmless!  
I’m not where I want to be yet so I’ll keep trying and learning and applying and trying some more because that future vision of Savoir Faire, and the Stephanie who is running it, is well worth reaching for! 

posted @ Thursday, September 08, 2011 10:29 AM by Stephanie McLaughlin

Nice post, Frank, with some great insights. You cannot possibly succeed without a clear goal and the willingness to recognize, accept and address your weaknesses. That said, the source of constructive criticism is equally critical to the feedback itself. A leader or coach or mentor must establish a significant level of credibility and trust before they can expect others to effectively heed their advice or buy in to their strategies and methodologies. Whether you coach an individual or manage a team, as the leader, you must first establish trust and demonstrate an authentic desire to help and to see your student succeed. Criticism that comes from anything less can be counterproductive.

posted @ Thursday, September 08, 2011 11:05 AM by Colleen Coyne

Talk about not deserving this much attention and being compared to Mr. Miyagi? Here's the real secret. If you're good at picking talent, the talent makes the coach look good. Mr. Miyagi couldn't have done it with the Karate Kid if the Karate Kid didn't have what it takes. Thank you, Pete and thank you Stephanie for making me what I am.

posted @ Thursday, September 08, 2011 12:02 PM by Rick Roberge

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