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Why Sales Coaching is Critical, Bill Eckstrom and Sarah Wirth [Episode 728]

Bill Eckstrom, Founder and President of EcSell Institute and Sarah Wirth, VP of Client Services, who are the co-authors of The Coaching Effect: What Great Leaders Do to Increase Sales, Enhance Performance, and Sustain Growth, join me on this episode.

Key Takeaways

  • Bill and Sarah share how they came to write this book, based on their work together at EcSell Institute. Bill quietly submitted a draft for a book to a publisher. It was accepted; then they had to get to work finishing it!
  • Texting is no substitute for a one-on-one or a ride-along. The rate of attrition in sales is increasing. Managers that were formerly sales reps need to learn how to coach.
  • Your team leaves because you don’t invest in them. One-on-one meetings work if you do them well. Develop your individuals. Sarah explains coaching for order, relationships, and complexity. Bill discusses data.
  • How strong are the relationships between the manager and the sales reps? Andy spells out his POPE time allocation method for managers. Process — 40%, Opportunity — 30%, People — 20%, Educating — 10%.
  • Coaching has the strongest correlation with growing sales. To grow sales, help your team to grow skills.
  • You only succeed when your people succeed. If you don’t have the time, tools, or training, do the best coaching you can until you have the time, tools, and training.
  • Do you have any idea how your behaviors and activities are impacting your team? What can you change for them to help them succeed? Fewer than 50% of reps attain quota. Are quotas obsolete? Andy discusses productivity.
  • Many sales managers wish they were sales reps. They don’t fit their role. Bill suggests putting those managers in the field and replacing the manager role with a sales help desk. Selling and leading are separate and different skills.
  • A promotion to Sales Manager is not about money or prestige but serving. Coaches, managers, and leaders need to help their teams know their strengths. Management is not the right role for everyone.
  • What was your motivation to become a manager? Was it for your growth or to help others? Were you just tired of selling? You won’t be a good sales manager if you don’t love both selling and coaching.
  • A team’s discretionary effort (or the willingness to work harder and do more) comes through the quality of coaching they receive. Sarah explains order, accountability, and complexity.
  • Relationship-building and the desire to help people in their goals are attributes that serve you both in sales and management. Ask the Navy SEALS about building trust!

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul 2:35 

It’s time to Accelerate. Hey friends, this is Andy. Welcome to Episode 728 of Accelerate. I have another excellent episode lined up for you today. Joining me as my guests are Bill Eckstrom and Sarah Wirth. Bill is the founder & CEO of the EcSell Institute. Sarah is their Vice President of Client Services. Together they are the co-authors of a new book titled The Coaching Effect: What Great Leaders Do to Increase Sales, Enhance Performance, and Sustain Growth. Today, we’re gonna talk about real performance coaching, real growth coaching. So one of the topics we’re gonna cover today include why good coaching has the strongest correlation with growing sales, why managers need to invest their own time and learn how the lack of good coaching contributes to the skyrocketing rate of attrition and turnover that we see in sales and across all industries. How to develop stronger relationships between the manager and the sales rep. Why leading and managing are different skill sets and finally, how a good coach can increase their team’s discretionary effort. And this is a term that the builds are coined in the book discretionary effort, which is defined as the willingness to work harder and to do more. All right, let’s jump into today’s episode, Bill and Sarah, welcome to the show.


Bill Eckstrom 2:36

Thank you. And it’s fun to be here now.


Sarah Wirth 2:39

Thanks, Andy.


Andy Paul 3:08

So we’re going to talk about your new book, The Coaching Effect: What Great Leaders Do to Increase Sales, Enhance Performance, and Sustain Growth. So why this book and why now?


Bill Eckstrom 4:00

Sarah may have a different take on it than me. I think one of the more flattering things is when someone says, have you guys written a book or if I’m doing a speaking engagement, someone comes up and says, do you have to have a book with more information in it? And that’s really flattering and also motivating. So we had accumulated so much research and so much experience in the realm of understanding how coaches impact the performance of teams specifically, as it relates to sales. So we decided that we would attempt to write a book. 


Sarah Wirth 5:18 

Bill and I typically do a career discussion once a year and talk about professional goals. And one of the questions that he asked me at a career discussion was what’s my professional dream? Which I responded with some kind of generic answer about growing the business. And I remember he looked at me and he said, okay, I want to do that too, but I want you to think bigger. What’s your dream? When you look back at your career, what would you have liked to have accomplished? And I said, I’d like to write a book, which is honestly something I don’t even think I consciously thought of until that point, but that’s what immediately popped into my mind, my professional dream. So ultimately, we made that happen once we felt like we had the research and the stories and the overall direction to really convey a lot of good content.


Bill Eckstrom 6:30 

Sarah and I had done a lot of writing together to white papers and little ebooks. I took our work and submitted it, I had done a lot of due diligence, knowing that I was going to submit our work to see if someone would be willing to publish a book, then we had written, she didn’t know I was doing any of that. And one of the things I learned was, hey, you’re going to get turned down, but don’t stop if you’ve got what you think is great material. And so after all the due diligence I submitted our work to a publisher, first one I submitted to and then accepted the work so then I told her.


Andy Paul 6:58 

So what’s let’s dig into this topic of coaching because it is certainly a hot topic these days. One school of thought is there’s less coaching that goes on now than there used to be. And this is sort of a general theme and almost like the accepted wisdom. Do you believe that’s the case?


Sarah Wirth 7:15 

Yeah, I think certainly there’s less of it in the face to face interactions. And I think nowadays we’re doing so much communication via phone, via text. And so getting to go out with your manager and go visit a client together and get feedback on how you did and receive that type of coaching that really has an impact. I don’t think there is as much going on nowadays. And what’s interesting, we’ve actually looked at this in our research. You would think the millennial generation would appreciate feedback and communication to come. The attack on the phone. Actually, most of them would rather have it face to face which doesn’t happen as much as it is for sure.


Andy Paul 8:05

Yeah, I mean, I think one of the things is certainly in certain segments, you see much more so reliance on metrics to sort of management activities rather than managing people, which certainly is, I think, a problem. I’ve sat in conferences, sales conferences, where panelists will say, oh, we’ve stopped doing one on ones because they just don’t work and. Right. Yeah. My response to myself, because I have to restrain myself from saying it out loud is, is that the problem is not the one to one. The problem is you, the manager and. Yeah. And isn’t that where a lot of the starts and we’re looking at the huge problems in sales offices. The rate of attrition is increasing pretty significantly. The average tenure at almost every step along the ladder in sales. And I think the longest, based on stats I just saw earlier this week, is like 17 months or 18 months for VP and account accounting next year. And others are less. I mean, how had I put the blame on managers for that?


Sarah Wirth 9:10 

With a lot of manager turnover, that’s what we see time and time again, is because they turn so quickly, because people are promoted from a sales rep into a management position in pretty short order if you don’t have a lot of training of how to do that. And so they get into these jobs as coaches and they try to basically be a super sales rep and they try to keep selling and focusing on the skills that got them there without any idea of how do I perform for somebody else? How do I coach somebody else to achieve their goals and then work with them as their leader as opposed to being the doer. And so we see that attrition really impacting a lot of a lack of skill development of the coaching level.


Andy Paul 9:52 

Well, certainly for me, there are two key aspects. One is its a self fulfilling prophecy, right? You get this vicious cycle going as we know the people are going to be there for a short period of time. So we underinvest in them because we’re trying to do is get them to produce more quickly. I mean, I think the whole idea of the time frames that people put around onboarding these days are hugely unrealistic and unrealistic, really, to coach people through that in the time frames they want. So we start getting this vicious cycle where we underinvest in our people and then they leave because they’re not getting the growth opportunities they want. But, you know, we’re I convinced him to give to develop them because we think there’s going to even go to our competitor. And why do we don’t train somebody for our competitor?


Bill Eckstrom 10:37

You know, that’s such a short-sighted view into how performant works, you know, which is funny. And we talked about this, I believe probably Indiana, our last conversation. But at a high level, at a very baseline level, I guess, is how I worded. Everybody believes the performance of the team as a reflection of how that team is coached. Yet the resources that go into the meat or the manager, whatever you want to call them. Is still nominal to nothing, and they wonder why people turn over. Well, if someone’s interviewing with our company and they have a nomadic background, I will certainly dig into it. But that doesn’t scare me. And I think Sarah would probably say the same because my guess, they just haven’t been if they’re a great talent, they just haven’t been invested in properly. I don’t think that’s changed at all. There’s still the number one reason people still believe has to do with the relationship with their boss. Your comment earlier about you heard out of sales maybe that we were doing one on ones because they don’t work. Well, of course, they don’t work if you suck at meetings or coaching. Right. And, you know, that’s the bottom line is and we’ve seen it in our research, if people and this is what’s funny and this is why people have to understand what coaching really is and does. People will say, well, we told our managers to go coach more and results on backward. That’s like saying to say a bad, bad or to, you know, we took our worst batter and had come up to the plate more. Now we’re losing more games. Well, of course, you are. You’re telling somebody who’s bad at something to go do more of it. And then a research we’ve been able to show that you actually coaches reduce the discretionary effort of the people on their teams if they spend more time with them, if they’re bad.


Andy Paul 12:48

We’ll get to that term discretionary effort. I like that there was in your book. Well, it’s just back to us before we move on is. Certainly some of the pressure, I think, for lack of coaching is, as we alluded to earlier, this emphasis on metrics. Right. We have much more transparency and activities based on some of the tools we use. And you see these expectations coming from investors or from sea level people, again, who don’t really understand sales, but think, oh, we know this is much easier to manage because I just have to look at the numbers and we’re just going to manage our activities. And certainly we see this in a lot of the tech space and other places. Is that based on our low win rates? Is that we’re just playing the odds at that point or not? We’re not really selling anymore, right. We’re just assuming if we do enough here, it’s going to end up with a certain amount here. And for certain companies, that’s fine. But then in those instances, the managers, their incentive really, especially if they’re no, they’re 10 years somewhat short and they feel this pressure is just focus on the numbers. So how do we break that cycle? I see two things that really come out of that, as I’m sure you see a lot more, is that coaching these days, at least as I see it, so many companies practice as purely about opportunities. And it’s really not about developing the individual. And so I start purposely divide that into coaching and mentoring just so people can get a different mindset about it. So what are you guys seeing on that?


Sarah Wirth 14:30

You know, when we look at the components of coaching, that really creates good outcomes, having order, having expectations, having clear goals, clear measurable benchmarks, that is a component. You know, having that kind of metrics that you’re talking about is helpful so that you can define for people. Here’s what you should be doing and here’s your accountability about it. Right. But the problem is it becomes, as you said, the only way that they coach and we see really three kind of primary components or the order element that I just mentioned. But there’s also a relationship and there’s complexity. So if you’re going to be a great coach, you need to do all three. And so relationship essentially just means I build trust with you. I build communication with you. I know you understand. You know, I know what makes you tick. I know when you’re stressed, they know when you need help. And so that kind of coaching ability really makes a big difference. Another element of it is being able to put people into what we call complexity, being able to challenge people outside their comfort zone in them developmental opportunities and get them into a space that they haven’t experienced before so that they can grow and achieve more. And if you’re not doing all three of those elements and only driving order and expectations, you’re really missing out on a lot of chance to drive better performance.


Bill Eckstrom 15:53 

I think also and if I may, back to your question about, you know, it’s data that is driving this behavior that you’re describing and the challenges. And one of the things that we and we describe this in the book, it’s I think I don’t think I know forever managers, leaders in sales are looking at incomplete data is that is completely and totally leading them astray. Right. They will tell you the performance of their teams are a reflection of how they’re coached, but yet they can’t pay what their coaches are doing. They have no idea whether they’re spending how many days you’re spending in the field, whether they’re effective in the field, whether they’re simply out in the field paying super sales rep, or whether they are actually helping somebody progress their skill sets. They have no idea whether they’re working with salespeople on the front end of the calls or the back end of calls. They have no idea, zero idea how strong the relationship between the manager and the salesperson is. And as I mentioned, that’s the baseline of performance. That’s a baseline of coaching effectiveness, is to understand the depth of that relationship or to have a relationship. And so all the data has been around with salespeople do. And that needs to flip. The data needs to be what are the coaches doing? What are the leaders, what are the managers doing? Right. Because that drives what the salespeople do. So it needs to flip. So to answer your question, I think we need to drive more data that shows what coaches are doing, not just what salespeople are doing.


Andy Paul 17:42 

Yeah, I agree. One hundred percent on that. I was talking to a group of sales managers earlier this year and one of the questions they want me to address was how should managers spend their time? How should they allocate their time? And so I. For a while, I’ve had this acronym I used to sort of spell it out for people interested in your take on it. The acronym is Pope, P-O-P-E and the first P is for process. And I said, you know, sales manager spend roughly 40 percent of their time on building process for me is building capabilities and capacity within the organization. So I could be hiring or interviewing. It could be, you know, managing manager, defining a process, managing your actual selling process. The O is for opportunity, spend 30 percent opportunity coaching, you know, working on closing deals and helping your people sell. Second P is 20 percent on the people. This is where you’re doing your personal development, personal growth, upskilling and so on. And then 10 percent they need to devote to educating themselves. And yeah, I’ve used that framework. I got it from a manager a long time ago. It always worked for me. But we don’t. What I see is really interesting is that know. They’re feeling so pressured by these the data and the activities side of thing that they’re not making the investments and the people are themselves even and thinking, I don’t have time. That’s like, well, you’ve really got nothing but time.


Sarah Wirth 19:18 

The most important thing. Right? I mean, it’s, you know. Yeah, they spend a ton of time, you know, looking at spreadsheets on their computer time doing territory plans. But if you don’t coach your salesperson at point of sale on their skills to be able to ask better questions, build a better relationship, better assess needs to be able to challenge customers assumptions. You know, coach, that you can look at all the spreadsheets in the world, but you’re still not going to sell more. So it’s a time allocation question. And to me and based on our data, coaching your salespeople is the absolute best use of your time for helping you hit your goal.


Bill Eckstrom 20:01 

Which is kind of funny. So we get asked the question and I don’t know if we have this quantified yet, so maybe we do somewhere. But my understanding is when you ask. Meters. What’s the number one reason why you’re not behaving more like a coach or spending your time coaching? They will respond. I don’t have time. And that’s a fascinating response, because when we look at our research, it’s those behaviors and activities that have the strongest correlation to growing sales that would be similar to our likened to a salesperson having just learned a great new sales methodology of all kinds of data that shows if you follow this methodology, you will sell more stuff. And then the salesperson comes forward and says, hey, you know what, the full sales methodology thing. I just don’t have time to implement not my deal. I just I’m too busy to sell better.


Andy Paul 21:17

That’s really a great way of expressing it because, you know, you go into sales managers. And one things that that I work with companies on will put together a book club for the sales team and a curated list based on their particular needs. And so it out over 12 months, written books facilitate book discussions and so on. But for the companies that say no to that direction, so I say, well, we don’t have time and sellers don’t have time. But you understand that for decades that’s the studies of all shown salespeople spend a third of their time at most actually selling them. Oh, no. And I think this is one thing that’s the pressure of the data and the transparency we have is again, a fear management structure is such that they think that sales are purely about the numbers, then they won’t invest the time. And so I just interested in your experience when you deal with companies that are clients of yours. Have you had one that you’ve had to serve? How do you convince them to break that mold or break that practice to understand that, yeah, you’ve got time to do this now, or do you have time? You must spend the time coaching and so on.


Sarah Wirth 22:27

I feel like there are a lot of people it comes down to being able to put some proof in front of. One of the things I’ll try to challenge them on is you. OK, so what are you spending your time on? And inevitably they say things like internal meetings, putting together plans or looking at data. And I say, OK, great, what? So what’s your ROIC of that? Like, what can you show me that if you do more of those things, you, your team, some more and they just they look at you like you’re crazy because they’re like, I have no ROI and they say, okay, great, I have an ROI. This says if you spend more time coaching and do it better, you’re actually going to increase your team sales. So why don’t you consider this? This is actually a proven way to increase sales versus what you’ve just always done, which you’re coming to us because you’re saying I’m not getting enough sales. So you probably need to do something different. And that usually helps the data perspective certainly helps them because they respond to being able to measure coaching and its impact for sure.


Andy Paul 23:32

There is a thread discussion through a month or more ago about sales coaching and several themes that came out of as I sort of reading some of the responses about it not being clear. As the primary order of business is not clear to too many new sales managers that they’re only going to succeed if their people succeed thus, thus coaching should be top of the list. And it’s just it’s like it’s not there. And then. And so I was like, OK, how are we failing these people? And is that because we’re not modeling that behavior? Probably was my first impression as their managers aren’t modeling that behavior them. And then the second part was that there are all these excuses made. Don’t have time, don’t have the tools, don’t have the training. And I just think back to my own experience. Yeah, I understood that when I got promoted that I was going to succeed if my people succeed and I didn’t have the tools and the training, but I did the best I could. I started getting some and started learning and I got some experience. But that that initial impetus to do it just doesn’t seem to be present.


Bill Eckstrom 25:00 

Well, it’s you’re right, it’s not and that’s a failure on a lot of levels. And when people get promoted typically from a sales role and they’re moving up. So when they get promoted, they’re saying, OK, here’s your team, here’s your region. Here’s your no go. Go get it, tiger. You know, come on, baby, you can do it. But what’s interesting, and I posed this question to executives before and the look on their face. Is inevitably there some because they can’t answer and that’s this, if you’re number one sales leader or does it matter any of your sales, a regional manager, coach, whatever you want to call them, came to you and said, hey, I want to grow my team, I want to hit a bigger number. And I know my team, how they perform, and what they produce is really a reflection of me and how I coach. So what do I as a coach need to do more of or less of to help? My team had a bigger number. And not a single vice president would know how to answer that, because, again, now we’re getting back to the data component. Nobody everybody up to this point has viewed, I think, coaching. And we had this conversation this week with the prospect they view coaching as a soft skill. What distinguishes a soft skill from hard skills measurement? And now and we have shown to our research what they need to do is when somebody gets promoted, is measure whether or not they’re doing the right things with the right frequency and the right quality that will drive the most performance from the team. But organizations aren’t. Let me rephrase that. Fewer organizations are really willing to do that. And so as a result, the leaders are getting managers are getting into a role with no idea how their behaviors and activities are impacting their team.


Andy Paul 27:05 

I make the point that, you know, I really talks about how everything has changed and sales, yada, yada, yada. And I say, well, actually, it’s really just the opposite. The problem is that we’re managing sales just as we did one hundred years ago. I mean, fundamentally the same. And so one example I give is we talk about how we measure is quota setting quotas completely useless these days? You know, we have so few reps that meet it be if we are good hearts, law for people with good hearts law. Charles Goodhart, who is a British economist who put this forward and it’s been proven out empirically, is that when a measure becomes a target, it loses all value as a measure because people optimize the processes to achieve the target. And so if we have fewer than 50 percent of reps hitting quota, why do we still bother with it? There are other measures like true productivity and dollars of revenue generated per hour of sales time. And that’s that call to mind that because that’s a question I ask CEOs and sales leaders and I first engage with them. Your rep, Jennifer here. So how many dollars of revenue does she generate per hour of actual selling time?


Bill Eckstrom 28:26 

No way and no one knows.


Andy Paul 28:29 

But if you understand the true productive capacity of your sales team and if you really understand the levers you can push to improve actual productivity and performance, to me, that’s performance and productivity, then you’d want to know that. But as to your point, we’re still managing sales like it’s one hundred years ago. Yeah. It’s just it’s we have the ability to collect this data very easily through the tools and so on. And yet we’re not. And so I think managers are as wedded to the past, maybe even more so than they’re sellers.


Bill Eckstrom 29:07

All they are and I like to comment on this, too, but it’s hard to be a leader in, you know, in a leadership role, become a coach, call my manager and see empirically, quantitatively that. What number? What percentage? I think in the book we say 40 percent of managers are so miscast in the role that they’ll never, you know, be effective.


Sarah Wirth 29:46 

Yeah, absolutely, there’s a really decent percentage of managers, and it’s tough because the essence of what they need to do to be effective is exactly what they don’t want to do. A lot of them want to be salespeople. You know, a lot of them want to be out with customers. A lot of them want to be closing deals, which is great. We need to give really great salespeople a pathway to keep doing that and to be able to earn more money and have a better title if that’s what they want. And that’s what’s meaningful for them so that they can grow in their organization in that kind of vertical way without having to move into management. I talked to a lot of managers who moved into management just because it was the next step or not because they necessarily wanted to coach and lead others. And so when we don’t give them that pathway, they take it and then they end up in a role where they’re ill-suited.


Andy Paul 30:40 

All right, so it raises a question that, know, we certainly in certain industries, subscription based companies are using relying heavily on inside sales models. We’ve seen highly specialized sales roles evolve over time. Do we need to do the same with sales managers so that there’s a sales coach, a dedicated sales coach?


Bill Eckstrom 30:59 

Yeah, you know, it’s funny, Andy, to that question, yes. The way it’s being done today with a lot of organizations is, you know, people that just simply coscia the numbers we have shown into our data that really can decrease discretionary effort. If that’s the case, get rid of the managers, put a sales helpdesk in, you know, a coaching helpdesk or managerial help desk in the office and eliminate all your managers, put them back in the sales. They probably see much bigger gains if they did that. 


Andy Paul 31:54 

Yeah, I think they’re so out of a lot of merits and considering that that idea is that it’s a serious point. Yeah, people think there’s a logical career progression. I know personally, people or peers of mine who, uh, yeah. Took the first few steps of management and said, now I’m going back, I’m going to be a salesperson. But they didn’t feel like they had a choice at the time because whether a particular company or circumstance or so on, it was just said almost like an academic publish or perish was like, yeah, take the next step or, you know, go somewhere else. Yeah, but more than a handful of peers, good friends of mine that made them that move back, which they made more money, they were like one guy who ended up writing his first book to Sarah’s point. He was crying. He was crushing his numbers, and he had a lot of time during the day and then would go to the coffee shop, go to Starbucks and write his first book.


Sarah Wirth 32:56 

Yeah, they love and doing what they’re good at. 


Bill Eckstrom 33:02 

If you could set the ego aside, you know, if organizations and using our number eight, if you have it as just round numbers, let’s say 100 managers and 40 of them are miscast. That means 40 of them are way, way, way better off as salespeople. If you said to that organization, hey, we’re going to add 48 salespeople into your team, would you take them? And of course, they’d say, well, heck, yes, you know, they know your products, they’ve proven your industry and they’re ready to go. They jump on it. The same organizations are petrified that they’ve got to replace 40 managers.


Andy Paul 33:44 

But hey, well, to your point, earlier, you could do without most of those, right?


Sarah Wirth 33:50

Not helping you. I’m helping them to be better off with a lower number of managers who could actually coach people.


Andy Paul 33:56

Yeah, and I think it’s an interesting point, because I think the thing that gets forgotten a lot of times is that people get promoted to managers. So let’s take your 40 people that are not destined to be good, good sales managers. But there are probably because there were probably, I would assume because there were really excellent salespeople. Yet as soon as they get tagged as being an underperformer as a manager, there’s suddenly people looking at them like, oh, they were underperforming. SALESPERSON two, which is just nuts because I’ve seen companies where there are underperforming salespeople. They didn’t want them to let them go back to be sellers because they thought, yeah, they just don’t know how to perform. And it’s like, well, no, they were good salespeople. I don’t know if you ever encountered them, but it’s people sort of getting tagged with that label of being underperformers.


Sarah Wirth 34:42 

Yeah. And their different skill sets. I mean, they just are some people who possess them both. Some people can be a good salesperson and transition into being a good sales leader. But there are different skill sets. And so there’s plenty of people that should stay as a salesperson because that’s where they’re well suited. There are probably also people who would make great sales. Managers may not get the chance because maybe they weren’t a great salesperson, but actually would be better in a leadership role than that great salesperson because of bad natural leadership talent.


Andy Paul 35:11 

So and let’s dig down that just briefly because we’re people listening who are individual contributors. And I think yeah, I think my next step would be to be a manager is, you know, based on what you’re saying and I agree with this, is that, yeah, you really need to look closely at your motivations if your motivations are absolutely are about serving other people to help them achieve what they want to achieve in their lives, which is very similar to what your motivation should be for selling to your customers. But if you have that motivation, then yeah, perhaps that’s right. But if you think it’s about money, prestige, you know, getting the parking spot closer to the door or whatever, then, right? Yeah. It’s not the right move.


Bill Eckstrom 35:54 

One of the things we’ve wasted, I used to tell audiences is quite a bit and it was always interesting how people reacted. But if you changed the title from the first what we call sales management one, ask someone if you change the title to coach sales coach. Would you have fewer people that would want that role?


Andy Paul 36:17

Yeah, probably. That’s my initial reaction. Yes, you would.


Bill Eckstrom 36:22 

Yeah, exactly, and and and I believe that happens, so they have to coaches, managers, leaders need to understand and help people understand their strengths instead of just saying, because most salespeople, if you ask them, they will say unless they’ve been around awhile and realize, well, my next moves in the management and I think Sarah does a good job of helping me understand how to probe and dig and pry into that response, because if they’re challenged on it, you know, a lot of times they will come to realize that, wow, I don’t think I do want that after all. Yeah, come on.


Sarah Wirth 37:06 

Yeah. It’s really the thing that I always recommend to leaders. If they have a manager who says I want to move into management only to your point, the first thing I encourage them to ask is, OK, so why do you wanna be a manager? Tell me about why that interests you? And people are usually pretty honest. They’ll say to you it’s the next logical step or I want to challenge or I’d like to have more of a voice in this company or I want you to know, it’s just the next logical thing when I hear that type of response, that’s a pretty good clue that I’ve got somebody who’s just saying I want to grow. They’re not saying I want to be a manager. And help them find a growth path. But people who really want to be a manager, they’ll say to you, well, you know, I worked with a new salesperson on the team. I really liked it. I really liked teaching them how to do that job. And so I’d like to do more of that. OK, well then you’ve probably got somebody who really is interested in being a coach to other people, right?


Andy Paul 38:09 

Well, interesting, too, I think. I’m sure you’ve both of you have come across. This is it. I’ve seen this funniest seller when we come, managers, because they don’t wanna be sellers anymore. That is the star looked at us like, OK, this will serve my two, two or three year period of indentured servitude, but I just really want to be a manager. So help me out of here. And if you’re a senior sales leader looking at front line managers, I always caution people you have to do just as you said, zero zero. You have to dig deep and really understand the motivations because a lot of times people may get lucky for a year, hit a big number and they just really want out. And then they become bad sales managers.


Sarah Wirth 39:02

I mean, you’re looking for people who really want to coach. You’re looking for people who when you ask them why they talk about how they want to teach others, help others succeed, they will be able to develop other people. When you hear that as a response as to why they want to be a manager, then you’ve got somebody who really wants to be an effective coach.


Bill Eckstrom 39:21 

And I think also watching I mean, if who is on your team when you hire somebody new that volunteers who is on your team that tends to go help others get deals done? Exactly. Not just their own stuff.


Sarah Wirth 39:36 

Yeah. That person, everybody else on your team turns to. Right for advice and guidance and help because they know that that person will always help out.


Andy Pau 39:45 

Yeah. My first branch manager, when I was working for Burrow’s back in the day, when I asked him about a salesperson that I thought had maximum potential, I was in my first management job and I asked him, so how do you know when someone’s ready to be promoted and to a sales manager? And he said, well, when they’re already doing the job. And just to your point, you know, they’re helping people. They’re doing the stuff voluntarily. They’re seen as a leader figure, a senior figure, and they’ll do some of their own time to help others then. Yeah, those are the prime candidates. Yeah. I’m sorry. All right. So one last question is, and I love this term. You talk about in your book Discretionary Effort. You’ve used it several times, Bill. So you say the outcome of coaching is to create discretionary effort, which is the additional output produced by a team because of the coach. So it is by that you mean motivation or how do you generate this discretionary effort?


Sarah Wirth 40:47

In terms of discretionary effort, you’re really looking for what we talked about at the top of the call, somebody who is building a good relationship of trust with people, you have to first establish that. I’m willing to get to know you. I care about you. I want you to be successful as a person. I have to have a great relationship with you. If I’m going to be able to challenge you to perform at a higher level, then I have to have ordered. I have to have clear expectations. I have to have processes that I teach you to follow. And I will follow as I coach you and leave you. And then I’ve got to get you into complexity. I’ve got to get you out of your comfort zone. I’ve got to give you challenges that cause you to grow. So it’s not a discretionary effort that that willingness to work harder, to do more, to achieve more is not a simple formula. You’ve really got to build that over time with your relationship with the order and accountability you establish and with the complexity and the challenges you put in front of people and you do all three of that. We see that leading to better discretionary effort and then, of course, more failed.


Bill Eckstrom 42:08

People will still perform and we know this, if you ask a sales leader, if you go on vacation or you don’t show up to work tomorrow, do your sales people stay home? And of course, they’ll jokingly say, yes, they do. But in reality, everybody knows those people still work. Then the question is, well, if your job is to get more out of the team, how much harder do they work? How much smarter do they work? How much more do they produce because of you and the role that’s discretionary effort, right.


Andy Paul 42:35

And so I would just want to dig down a little bit on what Sarah said because this is something that to me is so critical is, you know, there is in certain sectors of you spend time on LinkedIn, online blogosphere, whatever that is, sort of attacking this notion of the importance of relationships and sales primarily with the customer. Right. And it’s really interesting because, you know, I think these people are dead wrong across the board. But by their token, they say it’s just about respect and trust, which, you know, you can’t have without a relationship. But they say the point is going back is these same qualities that we think that we want to have manifested in front line sales managers, a sales leader of any sort in terms of relationships, the ability to connect, ask great questions, to be of service. Those are the same qualities you need to have to succeed in sales. I mean, people tend to look to different things, but they’re very closely aligned. I mean, this talks about having integrity as a person between your words and actions is, you know, they’re very similar. You can’t expect to be a successful manager if you’re unable to demonstrate the same qualities in the relationships you build with your Briar’s.


Sarah Wirth 43:58

Yes, I think no question. Yeah, if you’re a relationship-driven salesperson if you’re a purpose-driven salesperson if it’s about understanding and supporting your customer’s needs. I think those are usually the salespeople that really succeed in management because you’re right, those are the same skill set. But being that same desire to help people and help them achieve their goals will translate well into management.


Bill Eckstrom 44:25

Yeah, and I think as the relationship to your point, Andy, relates to the discretionary effort, I think it’s number one. I’ll just think it’s silly to think that relationships and sales don’t matter. I mean, I think that goes out the window. All hell’s going to break loose. It’s how that relationship, I think is instituted, is impactful. But keep in mind, as it relates to the discretionary effort, people will say, well, I grew my team and I don’t have I don’t really know my people well. For example, we know fear creates discretionary effort, but over time, longitudinally fear people will leave your team. You cannot, especially given today’s environment where there are so many people, so many opportunities. They have to go to so many places to go sell. Spears, it’s not going to, it won’t hold, it won’t last, and then I think my last comment on how important relationships are to teams and performance after the Navy SEALs. Oh, yeah. See, see, see how much importance they put on relationships and trust with each other and how much they train to that. So I think it’s if people are saying that is just because they suck at it, it’s that because it doesn’t work.


Andy Paul: 45:51 

Well, I think also we could go on forever. I will start wrapping up, as is his I think I think people operate with certain impunity because your point is there are so many opportunities out there today that both of our managers and four salespeople, the frontline sales managers and salespeople, sellers, yeah, opportunities are plentiful. And it’s sort of like, yeah, I sort of joke from time to time that, you know, my message is going to be much stronger when there’s a recession because then you actually will have to focus on these fundamentals to succeed and then you won’t be able to skip from one opportunity to another just because, you know, the world is rapidly expanding. Yeah. You have to actually actually work. And maybe that’s just. Yeah, yeah, I. I started my career in the midst of the hyperinflation of the late seventies. It got hammered by the recession in the late 80s. You know, I saw Mark. I can remember four good recessions in my career. And actually they were all sort of times of peak performance actually in my career when I see things that happen. And maybe just because when that happens, you really do have to focus on the fundamentals more than you typically do.


Sarah Wirth 47:09

Well, that’s why so many great businesses start during recession. Yeah. So people have to find new ways to make money and work harder.


Andy Paul 47:22

All right. Well, I think smart companies, to your point about your company, smart companies do double down on services like yours when times are lean. So with that, we’re going to wrap up a task about how we can connect with you. First of all, thank you both, Sarah and Bill, for joining us. 


Bill Eckstrom 47:44 

Thank you for that opportunity, by the way, Andy, that’s very classy. 


Andy Paul 48:37

Ok, well guys, thank you very much and look forward to doing this again before too long. Ok, friends, that was Accelerate for the week, first of all, as always, I want to thank you for joining me. I also want to thank my guest, Bill Ekstrom and Sarah Wirth. Join me again next week as my guest Gaetano DiNardi who is the Director of Demand Generation. He is an aspiring hip hop artist. Perhaps you’ve seen some of his work online. He’s also a great SEO expert. And until next week, I’m your host and good selling.