What The Experts Say

HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW

Sales Teams Need More (And Better Coaching) by Scott Edinger

“We hear constantly about the importance and value of coaching, especially in sales. But, the reality I have observed while working with hundreds of organizations is that a true culture of coaching rarely exists. "In a survey conducted a few years ago with a sales team in a Fortune 500 telecom company I found an interesting contrast.” Read the Full Article→

FORBES

Eight Signs Its Time To Hire A Business Coach by Forbes Coaches Council

“As a leader, you might think you should have everything figured out already, but this simply isn’t true. While all of us have our own talents, leadership skills are often something we have to learn along the way. Enter the business coach.” Read the Full Article →

ENTREPRENEUR

Coaching Makes All The difference By John Brubaker

“What separates the winners from the losers? At the most elite levels it’s not talent, because everyone is supremely talented. Coaching is what makes the difference.Coaching isn’t just important in sports, it’s the X-factor that makes a big difference in your business results as well.’” Read the Full Article →

4 Reasons You Should Seek Out A Business Coach by Jeff Boss

“There comes a point where stagnation sets in. You can take yourself only so far without the help of others. Hey, it happens. Consider it part of the startup lifecycle. Enter the business coach. There isn't anything else that you receive 100 percent dedicated attention to you.” Read the Full Article →

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What to Look

Building an Engaged Coaching Culture: How Teaching What You Need to Learn Changes Everything

“I’d like to build a coaching culture at my organization.”

Many coaches and training professionals hear these words often. Creating a continuously learning and innovating organization helps companies gain a competitive edge, helps team members enjoy their work more and confers many additional benefits.

It’s also a challenge. Creating a coaching culture isn’t a weekend project. It’s more like trying to build a city.

When companies try to implement these ideas, they’re often really enthusiastic. “We love learning, so this is a great fit!” is something coaches might hear at meetings. That enthusiasm can mean they dive right in. While they’re checking that “training” box, though, are they clear about what training should involve? Have they chosen training in those areas that will be most impactful? “Lifelong learning” sounds great, but if you’re learning something you’ve already covered or that’s not relevant, you’re just spinning your wheels.

How can leaders focus on the training areas and learning styles most likely to create authentic benefits? And how can training professionals guide them to these insights? Many people equate lifelong learning with becoming a student. But the path to creating a true commitment to training can successfully begin with adopting a teacher’s mindset and turning that mind toward gaps in knowledge.

A Teacher’s Mindset

When executives become coaches, they learn how to masterfully share not just information but real skills and values with those they influence. Mathematician Paul Lockhart wrote, “If teaching is reduced to mere data transmission, if there is no sharing of excitement and wonder, if teachers themselves are passive recipients of information and not creators of new ideas, what hope is there for their students?” He sums up the idea succinctly: Teaching is a deeply creative act, as is learning, and a strong coach is one who goes far beyond basic skills-sharing.

For many leaders, coaching doesn’t come naturally, and if they don’t have this crucial ability, how can they encourage learning? Teachers have years of instruction in pedagogy to learn how to inspire students and impart ideas successfully. Executives, too, need to start by being coached in the art and science of training itself. When leaders master skills such as open-ended questioning, deep listening and finding the essential “why” in a situation, they can teach those skills.

*Excerpt of an article written by Lori Darley, CEO of Conscious Leaders.

** Check out our Navigational Conversations offering in Solutions.

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7 Lame Excuses for Not Training Salespeople!

Written by Stephen J. Meyer, a Forbes Contributor

For the past six months I’ve listened to hundreds of business development calls where our reps ask sales managers, “What are you currently doing to train your team on selling skills?” The majority acknowledge, many sheepishly, that they do “nothing.”

I’ve sold training to sales managers for over 20 years, and here’s my take: If you were to plot sales manager attitudes towards selling-skills training on a bell curve, you’d get a distribution as follows:

  • Ostriches: 15% don’t train and develop their reps because they’ve got their heads in the sand and have convinced themselves it’s not necessary (they make no excuses).
  • Evangelists: 15% are true believers who see their reps the way coaches see athletes – they wouldn’t dream of putting them on the field without continual reinforcement of fundamentals (they don’t need to make excuses).
  • Wafflers: 70% know they should train their reps but never get around to it (they make excuses all day long).

After listening to all these calls, I drafted a list of the lamest excuses I heard. Then I decided to conduct a survey asking sales managers how often they’ve heard each excuse or used it themselves. For fear of offending, I called them “common” rather than “lame” excuses. I didn’t need to. My respondents, from a list of 15,000 life-long learners who subscribe to my colleague Michael Boyette’s Top Sales Dog blog, were merciless in their contempt for sales managers who don’t provide ongoing training for their reps. (See sampling of comments below.)

Here’s how the sales managers ranked the seven most common excuses for not training sales reps, along with my reflections on each one:

1. “I don’t have time for selling-skills training. For sales training, or anything else, “I don’t have time” often translates either as, “I don’t care enough about it” or “I don’t have a clue how to do it.” This is particularly lame and pernicious because for some reason lack of time is a socially acceptable excuse for weaseling out of things that matter. I think respondents voted this the most common excuse because there’s truth in it. Training and developing people does take time. Bottom line: If we perceive something as important, we make time for it, not excuses.

2. “I just do some coaching and mentoring as needed. No you don’t. In the BizDev calls I listen to, I’ve noticed that the more sales managers are taken aback by the question, “What training are you currently doing?” the more likely they are to give this answer. It suggests that they know they should be doing something, feel bad because they’re doing nothing, and want to give the impression they’re not entirely clueless.

3. “My reps say they don’t have time. Who cares what they say? You’re their leader and your job is to help them increase their sales, which is what they want more than anything in the world. If they viewed training and development as a means to that end, they’d embrace it. If you believed it, you’d sell them on it. The tail doesn’t wag the dog.

4. “My reps are all experienced and don’t need sales training. Translation: “I’m scared to death of my sales team.” Tiger Woods is an experienced golfer, but can you imagine him saying, “I don’t need practice and coaching”? Why is it that world-class athletes, musicians, artists and actors all train like crazy to perfect their craft, but only a small percentage of experienced salespeople recognize that what they learned in Sales 101 needs to be continually revisited and reinforced? Part of the reason may be that they work for a sales leader who either doesn’t get it or doesn’t want to rock the boat. It’s easy to teach know-nothing new hires. Giving more experienced salespeople the development they need requires skill, conviction and courage.

5. “Our industry is unique; generic selling-skills training doesn’t work.” Nonsense, of course it does. I’ve heard this comment, by the way, from sales managers in every imaginable industry, though it seems most prevalent in manufacturing. I suspect people who say this spend their entire budget on product training. They live in the 1970s when technical knowledge may have been enough to survive. Today, technical expertise is a given. It’ll get reps in the door. But the sellers who close big deals leave technicians in the dust. They’re life-long learners who practice relentlessly, hone their communication, discovery, negotiating and relationship-building skills, and search under every rock for ideas that will give them an edge.

6. “Higher-ups don’t support selling-skills training.” Translation: “I don’t believe strongly enough in talent development, so I haven’t crafted a persuasive argument in favor of training sales reps.” I addressed this issue in another post, where I made the case that it’s a fool’s game to try and quantify a return on investment for training, even sales training. How would your CEO respond if you said, “Do you want a well-trained salesforce that masters sales fundamentals, deploys selling best practices day in and day out, and makes our company look world-class? Or do you want an untrained salesforce that practices bad habits and makes our company look sloppy and mediocre?” Almost all CEOs would say they want the former, and they’d fund you if they sensed that you believed in your effort and had the expertise to pull it off.

7. “My reps don’t want to learn.” Not many survey respondents said this was a common problem. I recall hearing it a couple of times when I was on a two-year speaking circuit talking to CEOs. My translation at the time was, “My managers are so bad at training that their people don’t even know what effective learning looks like, so how could they possibly see its benefit?”

Some of the comments from the Evangelists who responded to our survey:

“I find all these excuses unconvincing – but the ones that push responsibility for not doing it on to someone else are the worst.”

“I don’t like any of the excuses. I feel we can all learn something from sales training. Most often it is a fundamental we learned years ago and forgot over time.”

“Refocusing on foundational elements of Selling ALWAYS pays dividends.”

“It is important for every Manager to ensure that you have the right talent and that your team is well resourced with skill.”

“Everyone is interested in things that will help them make money. We have product and sales training every week for all salespeople because we believe it is critical to their (and our) success.

“Obviously all reps need training even if it’s just a tune up. If time is not made to train them, inertia will turn to decay.”

** Check out our Superior Selling Skills offering in Solutions

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The FocalPoint Way

Foacl Point Way

FocalPoint Coaching has been educating and motivating business owners, corporate executives and other passionate professionals to move past obstacles and accelerate their personal and business growth for more than 30 years.

Over 1,000+ companies have successfully employed “The Focal Point Way”. If you are facing time, team, money or exit-strategy challenges, FocalPoint coaches can utilize our proven methods and systems, tailored for you, to reveal new ways of approaching business issues and find new opportunities that may been previously obscured by the day-to-day “grind”.

Focus on Vision: The FocalPoint Way starts with a focus on your vision. What is the vision for your business, for you personally, and for your family? Where do you want to be in a year from now, five years, ten years?

Focus on Strategy: Your FocalPoint coach will help you identify your vision and will guide you through a process to systematically identify the most important factors and the optimal business strategies to achieve your goals. We work with you one-on-one, helping you concentrate your efforts in the most meaningful and productive areas of your company.

Focus on Understanding: An important part of the FocalPoint coaching process is education – helping you gain a crystal-clear understanding of where you are today, what resources you have available, and what obstacles you anticipate encountering on the path to reaching your vision of the future. We focus on quantifiable results, tracking and measuring key metrics so you can clearly see the gains you are making towards your goals.

Focus on Success: With a clear vision, strategy and an understanding of what you will need to achieve your goals, you can begin the process of driving forward to create that vision. Your FocalPoint coach is your confidant, mentor and guide along that journey, helping you leverage your strengths, improve upon areas for development and realize previously unimagined gains across multiple areas of your company.

Here at FocalPoint we clearly understand that our value as professional coaches can only be measured by the success that is achieved by our clients.

Become our next success story - reach out to us and LET'S GET STARTED!

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Hear from our coaches about how they employ the FocalPoint Way to help their clients to “Find Their Why” - understanding who they are and what drives them in their business.

Client Stories & Successes

At FocalPoint, our team works directly with business executives, directors, managers and corporate teams to change their business outcomes (and professional lives) for the better. Below are a sampling of client testimonials to begin discovering what is possible for you or your business through coaching and training with FocalPoint.

Case Studies

MERLE NORMAN DAY SPA

Patricia and David were doing a good job growing their Day Spa business, however, they were facing problems with employees and profitability.

Find out how their FocalPoint Business Coach helped them increase their net income by +300% in one year.

Commercial and Residential

COMMERCIAL & RESIDENTIAL ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORS

The owners of a busy installation and service contracting firm lacked confidence in their field employees and were not making a net profit.

Learn how their FocalPoint Business Coach helped them reduce their billing time by 90% resulting in a $10K savings to the business.

Commercial and Residential

ANIMAL HOSPITAL

The doctors of the Animal Hospital had a successful practice but recognized they needed to increase efficiencies within the business and revamp their marketing plan.

See how their FocalPoint Business Coach helped them identify cost savings of $10K/year while increasing client satisfaction, revenue and profits.

Commercial and Residential

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