When I teach skiing, one of the most difficult expectations I have to set with my clients is, Rome wasn’t built in a day. There is only so much they can learn in a day or a week. In spite of my efforts to set their expectations, they almost always want massive gains. They want to ski moguls like a pro. They want to control their speed on blacks. They want to ski powder. They want to ski like “that girl.” The one the just flew past them down the hill. That want to get really good, really fast.
Because of these experiences, I adopted a very simple coaching philosophy. I only teach one thing at a time.
Skiing is one of the most difficult things anyone can do. It takes years and years to be good and almost a lifetime to be amazing. I have over 4,000 on snow hours, and I’m still not as good as I’d like to be. Skiing is hard.
Respecting the complexity, when I teach, I always apply the same approach. I only teach the one or MAYBE two things that will create the greatest and fastest improvement in their skiing. That’s it. I don’t worry about all the other shit you’re doing wrong. If I did, you’d never get better.
My goal is to get them as good as I possibly can, as FAST as I can.
Skiing is supposed to be fun, even when you’re learning. If I’m throwing all kinds of shit at you, like twist your foot, tip your ankle, put your shin into the tongue of your boot, bend your knees, don’t rotate at the shoulders, tap your poles, don’t bend at the waste, etc. You’re going to be overwhelmed. You’re not going to learn anything and worse, you’re not going to have fun.
Everyone who skis, beginner, intermediate or expert has a something that if they focus on can deliver tremendous progress. That’s what I seek out and focus on — nothing else.
Sale coaching is no different. Every sales person has a myriad of deficiencies. There is always all kinds of stuff they can work on. Your job as a manager is to zero in on the one thing that will help them progress the fastest and provide the greatest return. Like skiing, if you try coaching a salesperson on a shit load of stuff, you’re gonna burn em out, and they aren’t going to get better.
Here’s what you should do as a sales leader. Watch those you’re coaching and make a list of all the things you see they could improve. Pay close attention, be thorough. Focus on all aspects of the job, the selling, the team play, the personal skills, the leadership, all of it. Make a list of all the things you see they do well and where they need improvement.
Then, find the one thing that if they improved would provide them the greatest return. The one thing that would make them substantially better and then coach the shit out of it. Don’t focus on anything else. Just focus on that one thing. Do whatever it takes to help them improve in that area. Provide as much training, information, role playing, insight, support and guidance you can and don’t stop until they’ve nailed it.
When you focus on only one thing, progress is accelerated. The person learning can focus on perfecting the skill and not become overwhelmed with ten other things.
The most important thing a sales leader can do isn’t coach, it’s to know what to coach. Pick one, make them the best at it, then repeat.