• Thursday, June 20, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Sales Coaching-the peaks and valleys mentality (1)

Sales Coaching

Sales’ coaching is a useful tool for unleashing the potential of your team. While reflecting on one of my clients’ comments, I, without doubt, believe we all need the right push at one point or the other. No one without the need for motivation; be it intrinsic or extrinsic. Whether your team member is on top of his or her budget or below the exit line, there is power with your staff to be at their best all the time if they are led and inspired appropriately by the sales leaders.

My reflection on our client’s comment that her team and company’s sales figures are always on the way to the ‘north’ whenever my team engages her team brought about an insight into why our sales coaching at Mentoras Leadership Unlimited will in most instances be useful. When you reflect, you breed insight. Reflection and the consequent insight are like questioning the ‘why’ for your actions. One of the techniques I use to move my coaching client in sales to a higher level of performance is ‘focused conditioning’.

In mental health and wellbeing parlance, conditioning patients or service users are unprofessional because they might lack the required mental capacity to decide. However, I have found conditioning in my coaching insight as a useful tool for my team because of our personalities and the passion with which we coach our clients. Conditioning as defined in the Relational Security manual issued by the United Kingdom’s Quality Network for Forensic Mental Health Services is defined as ‘when someone uses the power of his or her personality repeatedly and overtime to persuade another person to act or think differently’.

One of the conditioning tools we have adopted in sales coaching is to imbibe the peaks and valleys mentality in our clients. Peaks and Valleys became a famous slogan in 2009 when Spencer Johnson released the book. In the book, Spencer used a story (like an allegorical fable) to teach the principle of making both good and bad times work for people at work and in life. I have never seen a career path that is relevant to the lessons in the book than the sales profession.

Before you overthink on the valleys, let me inform you that all the salespeople will experience peaks and valleys in their career. No one stays permanently at the valleys or the peaks. The question is how long you will want to stay at your peak or the valley?

Now to focused conditioning as a useful sales coaching tool. As a coach, I put my personality into the coaching process without losing sight of the various professional boundaries and limits. I know when my clients are trying to test my boundaries and when to be flexible or not. Using conditioning as a form of sales coaching strategy is professional because an average salesperson is with mental capacity even when at the valley of performance. What I imbibed in people is the mentality of highs and lows, hills and valleys to their current situation.

In my terms, peaks in sales are when the figures are in the “north”. When you are above 75 percent of your budget and things are looking good. Emotionally, at the peak, you are at your best, and you received commendations for your current performance at the meetings. To your colleagues, you are the happening salesman or saleswoman. The valley, on the other hand, is when your performance figures are at the “south”. You are operating below 50 percent of your budget, and for a top-notch salesperson, south is running at below 60 percent of target. At the “south,” your emotional state is awkward. You are afraid when going to meetings. At this stage, you are the easy target of the sales leaders’ unprofessional and abusive words.

Whenever you say, or any promises you made to change the performance will be taken as lies. You will be told to keep quiet as ‘figures don’t lie, and liars don’t figure out things. The valley is a terrible place to be as it affects your other life quickly- relationship with spouse, friends, and family. A worrying emotion is ruining you, and all you can do is to either hope for the best or do something as fast as possible to save your job. You will be at the valley starting to think of how to survive-pay the bills, the school fees, and to cope with maintaining your established standard of living and ego in the society.

Before you overthink on the valleys, let me inform you that all the salespeople will experience peaks and valleys in their career. No one stays permanently at the valleys or the peaks. The question is how long you will want to stay at your peak or the valley? What will you do when you find yourself at the peak or when at the valley of poor performance? We do not just get to the peak or find ourselves at the valley. We took the journey deliberately or unintentionally to the north or the south of performance. The performance baseline is crossed through our conscious and unconscious efforts as the results of how we view and accept our reality.

My job as a sales and leadership coach and consultant is simple. I love dealing more with people termed as “finished” “useless” and “non-performing” staff. My mantra is to help individuals and organisations to be at their most creative best and turn-around their performance within 90 days of engagement. In achieving that self-developed and imposed commitment, the use of focused and positive conditioning has proved to be a reliable tool in my kitty.

Here is a true-life experience that lay credence to the peaks and valleys mentality from one of my sales clients and protégés.

Johnson was managing a significant branch of a bank. A month to the end of the bank’s financial year, his branch performance was on the red line in all the parameters. He was afraid of becoming a subject of ridicule and the impact of closing the year low for appraisal reasons. After the conditioning that enabled him to see the sales roles and life in general as a game of peaks and valleys, Johnson was in his office on a Sunday to reflect. I told him to SEE, THINK and ACT.

He printed his balance sheet and stared at it for 20miniutes. He realised that an inflow of one billion naira that stays for the next 28days would change his fortunes and performance rating on the deposit line and affect other tracks like the profitability, solvency, and the bank’s liquidity. His conscious level of awareness rose from the animal level where he blames the bank, his supervisors, and others except himself to an aspirational level with the hindsight of the possibility of a massive turn-around. It was as Johnson was at the stadium when Liverpool turned around the trailing AC Milan by 3-0 to win the Champions League trophy on May 25, 2005. The spirit of Steven Gerald and his teammates reinvigorated in Johnson. He wrote down five existing customers from whom he can source for the needed one billion naira before leaving his office around 7 pm.

The next day was a different day in the office. Johnson warned his sales team not to be negative. He told them they are to all source for one billion naira and change their story from grass to grace. He opened their eyes to the possibility and demanded everyone to go to his or her customers professionally and demand a share of the customers’ end of the year deposit for valued services. I would never forget his parting words. ‘Team, we are in this to win, and if you as a person don’t do it, others will do it. Be counted’.

Johnson visited his prime customer out of four customers he had assigned for himself. He met with the Chief Finance Officer (CFO) of the company and as usual, started his discussion by asking for the family of the CFO followed by job-related talks in a calm manner. Johnson has been an eloquent, resourceful, and energetic salesman with a high level of relational intelligence to his customers. As the discussion went by, it got to business and the customer’s concern on how to source for foreign exchange to foot its import bills. Johnson was calmed and provided many options. At the end of the discussion, the CFO saw value in Johnson’s proposition and decided to inflow one billion naira to the company’s account in Johnson branch the next day.

To Johnson, it was as if he was the Xabi Alonso who is about to take the 60th minute penalty for Liverpool to equalise against the AC Milan. The emotion of the third goal rose in Johnson as he waited patiently for the one billion goal (naira), the next day.

It is a goal! The penalty was scored. Johnson’s team jubilated as the one billion naira was credited into the customer’s account. Johnson and his team are back at the peak after an extended stay at the valley. What next did the team do to stay more at the peak and avert returning to the valley in 26days? How did they end the financial year in question?

I will be back with a part two that has no equal.

Till then, SEE, THINK and ACT!