Let’s practice coaching:  A quiz for you!

You’re the sales manager, and you’re a bit unhappy with Fred’s performance last year. He’s a skilled salesperson, but although he has the same capacity to make calls that all his colleagues have, he simply doesn’t call enough. You’re convinced that if he could simply bump up his call volume, with his close rate he could be your best performer.  Which of the following is best for you to say to Fred, as you sit down to discuss the coming year’s plan and expectations?

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 Cropped1. “Fred, last year you made an average of 12 on-site calls per month, while the rest of the team averaged 18.  And although you just made goal for the year, I’d like to see you do better than that.  You have the capacity to make more calls but for some reason I’m not seeing the performance.  Let’s talk this through. What are your thoughts about next year?”

2. “Fred, two areas that have impressed me are your close ratio and that you consistently make goal year over year.  My thinking is that if we could just focus on getting your call volume up, you would see some impressive results.  I think you can average 20 calls a month with little additional effort.  Now here’s why I think this is important to you. A breakthrough year not only ensures you’ll surpass your goals, but it would also enhance your professional reputation within the team. You’d be a rock star.  But more importantly, a greater call production combined with your sales skill is guaranteed to put more money in your pocket and I’d love to write you a fat bonus check.  So share with me your own thoughts about next year.”

3. “Fred, I’m pleased about the year you just had, once again meeting your sales quota.  One area where I see an opportunity for you would be increasing your call volume.  Last year you averaged 12 calls a month, while the rest of the team averaged 18. I’m sure you have the capacity to make more calls. In fact I’d like to set a target for you of 20 calls per month.  So let’s take a few minutes and talk through this.  What’s getting in the way of your making more calls?”

4. “Fred, before we talk about your plans for next year, let me first congratulate you on last year’s performance, once again meeting your sales quota.  Thank you for your contribution. It makes me feel better to know I have a talented performer like you on my team, someone I can count on.  I’ve been looking over all your numbers, and as far as I can see, given the same capacity as the rest of the team, you could have a great year if you simply bumped up your call volume, say to 20 calls a month or so.  Now I know that there are weeks where you have a lot of proposals and other things to attend to in your pipeline, but on average over the year, 20 per month seems reasonable to me.  Can I put you down for that?”

One of these is poor and I expect you’ll identify it right away.  The others each have some defect and some good points and you can point to anything that strikes you.  So you needn’t score every one.  Just share your observations about any of them, what you liked or didn’t like.  I’ll parse all four of them next week.

Penn Relays Promise

I completely forgot to tell you what happened at the Penn Relays in 1978, part of the Sully story.  The race was not very well organized.  They had you start in front of some library, the steps of which are in the film “Rocky,” and then you ran along the Schuylkill River to some bridge, which you crossed, then turned around and ran back to the start, a distance of just under 4.5 miles.  You did this three times and it was awful.

On my second lap, I came up on a little kid on a bicycle! Why he was there I have no idea, but a big guy coming toward me stepped to avoid the kid and banged right into me, knocking me down. I tore the cartilage in my ribs and had to drop out.  I drove from Philadelphia to upstate New York that night, hardly able to breathe.  Oh well, at least I got the Sully story out of it, and thanks for your great feedback on it.

Think Like Your Customer!

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About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at www.actionsystemstraining.com.

2 Responses to Let’s practice coaching:  A quiz for you!

  1. Jeff Horton says:

    You could always fall back on the “Glengarry Glen Ross” motivational speech. Absent that, I liked #2 of the available choices as the best as it appealed to both the rep’s self interest for pay and reputation. Its shortcoming was that there was no challenging stretch goal. If the other reps can routinely do 18 calls, for this rep to hit 20 is no big deal. Setting forth a challenge of a steady increase of say 2-3 a month to go from 18 to approaching 30 might light a fire under the rep IF he has a competitive spirit. But in my long career in finance and dealing with reps and how they affect revenue, many times I have seen a good rep hit their comfort zone and stay there. If this is what’s happening in this case, there’s nothing much a manager can do to get the rep out of that zone.

  2. Thanks Jeff. Someone else mentioned the stretch goal idea and that is a great tactic. I’ll talk more on all of this on Friday.

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