Goals and Challenges

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You hire two people with the same qualifications and skills. One succeeds; the other fails miserably.


Part one of Optimizing Performance for Strong Results, a two-part podcast interview with Integrity Solutions’ Mike Esterday, takes an in-depth look at this phenomenon and explores specific strategies you can take to unleash a stronger drive to achieve within your entire workforce.

As Mike explains, rapid change-in politics, government and businesses across every industry-along with increased competition, pricing pressures and product parity have raised the stakes on performance. At the same time, many managers are struggling with how to coach, recruit and work with the growing population of Millennials in the workforce. As a whole, this group has a stronger desire to find purpose in their work, and if they don’t find it, they’re willing to leave. And that means retention has become a pressing concern as well.

The good news is, the issues are connected: If we can light that fire within our people, they’ll not only be more likely to succeed, they’ll be more likely to stay.

Why So Many Training Strategies Miss the Mark

How many people have plateaued in your organization? How many do you believe can move off that plateau and perform at a higher level?

In the podcast, Mike shares that when he asks that second question, the answer he typically gets is about half. But what many managers don’t realize is that lack of belief in their people has a direct and negative impact. People pick up on it, and so they perform to the level that they think their managers expect of them.

“All growth, whether personal or corporate, begins with expanding mental paradigms,” Mike says.

Most people perform at the level they believe they should be performing at, he explains. In other words, our actions, behaviors and even our abilities are bounded by our comfort zones. To improve performance then, training and coaching need to focus on stretching that “area of the possible.”

But most don’t, at least not effectively. Mike explains the simple reason why:

“That soft stuff is hard! It’s a lot easier to teach people product specs, selling techniques, managing numbers and activities. It’s tougher to get at attitudes, beliefs and achievement drive.”

But those factors are the “turbo chargers” for most people’s success.

The other key? A learning process that gets people to learn and practice skills long enough that they become part of their natural behavior.

The Importance of Purpose

Purpose is also a major factor in growing performance, Mike says. Organizations that focus on purpose tend to light that internal fire more. In the podcast, he explores three components to this focus:

  • Purpose of the organization: Communicating clearly why we’re in business
  • Purpose of the job or team: Lighting the “personal why” by clarifying the purpose of the individual’s or team’s role and how it links to the organization’s purpose
  • How that purpose creates value for the customer: Understanding the impact on the customer

This last point is critical. Customers can tell what our intentions are when we interact with them. Are your employees thinking, “How can I get this transaction done?” or “How can I fulfill their needs?”

When people shift their view from believing the purpose of their job is to sell products to believing the purpose of their job is to improve lives, they’ll release more achievement drive, and that will increase the activities they need to do to succeed.

And that, Mike says, is how you create meaningful work.


Re-blogged from Integrity Solutions.

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“Baseball is 90% mental. The other half is physical.” -Yogi Berra

I love that quote. It fits so well into the world of sales, where salespeople are regularly expected to give more than 100%. And while it’s certainly true that half of sales success can be attributed to skills, it’s also true that there is a strong mental component to being “at the top of your game.” In both professions, coaches have to focus on more than just the player’s tactical skills. They need to focus on the whole person: body and mind.

What good coaching looks like?

At CSO insights, we define coaching as “a process which uses structured conversations to help salespeople develop their performance in the short and long term.” I like that definition for several reasons:

  • It focuses on the dialogue that needs to happen between salesperson and manager. Coaching is not about performing the role for the salesperson—a trap many first-time sales managers fall into. Coaching is not about telling what to do. Instead, it’s about asking the right questions to help the salesperson develop adaptive selling skills that allow them to reach ever-higher levels of performance and self-sufficiency in a dynamic selling environment.
  • These conversations are structured, following a proven approach for improving performance in sales and service roles, tailored along the entire customer’s journey. They are not drive-by criticisms that leave the struggling person more demoralized than motivated. Nor are they “atta-boy” comments about good performance that do nothing to turn around problem areas.
  • The focus is on both the short- and long-term performance goals. Coaching that focuses only on the short term will never create sustainable performance improvements.

Our work also emphasizes the need for front-line managers to focus both on managing the activities and coaching the related behaviors that lead to results and can be managed directly. That last component is vitally important. Many new managers make the mistake of focusing on end results, e.g., quota attainment, but not enough on how to get there. In their defense, it’s often not their fault. This is the way they were managed, and they are just modeling the non-coaching behavior of their previous bosses.

The problem is that you can’t really “manage” a quota or revenue. You can only manage the activities and the related behaviors—pre-call prep, adherence to proven sales methodologies, tailoring the value messages, collaborative selling techniques, etc.—that lead to this desired outcome.

The conference on the mound

Baseball isn’t nearly as popular in Europe as it is in the U.S., but given how much traveling I do in America, I’ve watched a game or two. I can’t say that I’ve grasped all the nuances yet, but one aspect of the game fascinates me: the conference on the mound. To me, this is coaching put to the test.

This conference seems to happen most often when a pitcher is struggling. The coach, followed by the catcher, trots out to the mound for a short, private confab with the pitcher. I’m not sure what gets said, but I doubt the coach is instructing the pitcher on the finer points of throwing a curve ball. The time for that has passed. Nor do I think the coach is threatening the pitcher: Strike this guy out or you’re finished! That would hardly be helpful in an already stressful setting.

More than likely, the coach is sharing some perspective on the game that the pitcher doesn’t see because he’s under so much mental stress. It also seems likely that he’s offering a few words of encouragement, maybe even asking the pitcher how he’s feeling, e.g., How’s your shoulder holding out? He wants to make sure the pitcher still feels confident in his ability to perform. It’s the ultimate moment of truth for coaching because there isn’t much time for the discussion, and everyone, including the coach, is under pressure.

Sound familiar?

A typical sales or service coaching session is no less pressure-filled for all involved. And the same strategies that work so well on the mound apply here, too. That’s why Integrity Solutions’ laser-like focus on the mental side of the frontline manager’s coaching responsibilities is so important—and so effective. Their % drivers of high achievment sets a pitch-perfect tone for a productive coaching session by encouraging the coach to create a supportive environment focused on how the person can succeed rather than dwelling on what’s going wrong. Not only does this approach help the person improve their performance, it helps keep their attitude positive and their head in the game.

No matter who the players are, that’s a winning formula.

Tamara-Blue-5-213x220Guest blog contribution
By Tamara Schenk
Research Director, CSO Insights

Reblogged from Integrity Solutions.

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Mindsets are a powerful thing. They can be deeply ingraine–and difficult to change. Stanford University Mindset Psychologist Carol Dweck, one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation, famously studied the behavior of thousands of children. She found that when they believed their intelligence and abilities could grow, they had a desire to learn and, as a result, were willing to embrace the challenges necessary to keep achieving more. They didn’t give up in the face of criticism or setback.

Dweck coined the term “growth mindset” to describe the mindset of these children, as opposed to those with a “fixed mindset,” who believe their intelligence is static and, therefore, are more likely to avoid challenges and negative feedback, ultimately plateauing before they ever achieve their full potential.


The correlations to the workplace aren’t hard to see. If you’re a manager or HR professional, consider the different employees you’ve worked with and developed over the years. Were there some who seemed eager to tackle the tough assignments and put in the effort, able to bounce back from setbacks and find the lessons in others’ success?

Contrast that with the employees who gave up easily when any obstacle got in the way, who looked for ways to avoid challenges and didn’t see the point in putting in the effort. They probably ignored useful feedback and felt threatened by others’ success.

Growth-mindset employees tend to be high performers because they believe they can keep achieving more. Even though work problems have become increasingly complex and the environment keeps changing, they’re driven by an inner motivation that says, “I can keep learning and rising to the challenge.”

Fixed-mindset employees often stall out—or worse. They believe they can’t, and so they don’t.

Coaching Growth-Mindset Beliefs Starts with the Manager’s Mindset

To build high performance across the organization, managers should encourage and promote a growth mindset among all employees. To do that, they first have to believe that the solutions to the challenges their employees face can be found within the employees themselves. Too many managers have their own fixed mindsets about what an employee’s growth potential might be, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

When managers assume that their employees’ ability to learn and adapt are finite, limiting their horizons for personal and professional growth, it can cause good company cultures to deteriorate, strategy to derail, talent to be squandered and results to suffer.

A growth mindset is essential not just for employee performance but also for the manager’s performance as an effective coach.

Expanding Belief Boundaries

Great coaches understand how an employee’s belief boundaries will affect what they perceive as possible, and how these boundaries either help or hinder progress towards achieving higher levels of performance.

So, what are belief boundaries? Over time people form certain beliefs about themselves, and these beliefs influence their view of what they believe they can achieve. As a result, they:

  • Form boundaries around their own inner beliefs.
  • Make assumptions about their abilities that directly relate to their inner beliefs.
  • Use inner beliefs as a mental paradigm that controls and regulates their actions, feelings, behaviors and abilities.


A coaching culture that supports a growth mindset hinges on expanding an employee’s belief boundaries, starting with understanding how their beliefs and values are influencing their emotions, which in turn are driving their behaviors and actions. When coaching efforts shift from providing feedback to building self-discovery, belief boundaries incrementally stretch, creating an emotional openness to learning new skills and behaviors.

Steps to Building a Growth-Mindset Coaching Culture

Here’s an action plan to get started building your growth-mindset coaching culture:

Senior Leadership Steps

  • Create new expectations and clear accountabilities for coaching, with all levels of managers responsible for improving their teams’ behaviors, attitudes and skills.
  • Communicate and model core organizational leadership values and behaviors, emphasizing that coaching is an authentic, honest desire to develop managers and their teams to their full potential. Without this, other management levels will not follow.

Middle Management Steps

  • Encourage coaching as a tool to achieve business results.
  • Reinforce that coaching is also about building a shared purpose, connecting coaching conversations with organizational values, direction and strategy.
  • Coach the coaches, using the power of questions coupled with listening to gain an accurate picture of how frontline managers are effectively leading and coaching.

Frontline Management Steps

  • Understand the drivers of human behavior—emotions, beliefs and values—using these insights to break through perceived blocks inhibiting employee success.
  • Use the power of questions to build employee self-discovery.
  • Know when to be non-directive (listening, questioning, clarifying, to promote creative thinking and idea generation) and when to be more directive (giving advice and training).
  • Respond to resistance by uncovering the true root cause of employee disengagement, and treat failure as an opportunity to learn.

When a manager sees more in their employees than they themselves see and is able to express a genuine confidence in their ability to succeed, employees will rise to meet higher expectations. Expanding belief boundaries and building a growth mindset at all levels improves problem solving and increases creativity and innovation across the organization. And as new levels of success occur, employees will continue to form new behaviors and keep improving their performance.

About the author

LIsa BullockLisa Bullock has over 20 years experience working with Global 1000 companies to link strategic business objectives to high impact learning solutions. Contact Lisa at lbullock@integritysolutions.com

Reblogged from Integrity Solutions.

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“No matter how good you are, you’re going to lose one-third of your games. No matter how bad you are, you’re going to win one-third of your games. It’s the other third that makes the difference.”
-Tommy Lasorda

Even world-class salespeople don’t win every deal. In fact, the best of the best are willing to walk away from deals that aren’t win/win-the solution doesn’t address the challenge, for example, or the buyer is demanding price concessions but offering nothing in return. They understand that their time is better spent focusing on the remaining one-third that are both winnable and winning.

In sales, just as in baseball, coaches make all the difference. In my last post, I talked about how coaches need to have the skills and mentality to coach the whole salesperson: body and mind. It may sound like a relatively easy thing to do, but as anyone who has ever been a front-line manager in a dynamic sales or service environment and/or a highly competitive market knows, it’s not. However, one thing I can tell you that we’ve learned from both anecdotal evidence and our research: This kind of sales coaching works!

Let’s take a closer look at what it all means for your sales coaching and leadership development strategies—particularly if improving win rates and quota attainment are important goals for you in 2017.

4 Levels of Coaching

Before we get into the results from our research, it’s important to have a common understanding of the different levels of coaching. To set the stage, I’ll use sports as an example again, but this time, I will focus on the sport’s youngest players and how they are coached and developed.

In youth sports, every team has a coach, but what that coach does varies widely between teams—even teams in the same city and at the same age level. Some coaches operate as though their role is nothing more than an overseer, there to make sure the kids play nice and don’t get hurt. Others make a sincere attempt at teaching the kids to play the sport, but since they don’t have real-life experience playing the game themselves, their efforts are relatively ineffectual. A few lucky teams have coaches who know both how to coach children and how to play the sport.

Almost every sales team has coaches as well: typically, the frontline sales managers. Like the youth coaches, their experience and skillset varies widely. So, too, does the level of guidance they get from sales leadership. We’ve formalized this into a coaching model that covers four levels:

Ad-hoc coaching: At this level, the approach to coaching, including whether it happens or not, is up to the individual managers. Left to their own skills and devices, the quality of coaching at this level varies widely. If the managers were never coached well themselves, their efforts will reflect that. It’s at this level that we most often see managers trying to “coach” results—“How will you make quota this month?”, instead of coaching the behaviors and activities that lead to results.

Informal coaching: At this level, the organization recognizes that coaching is vital to success, but it is probably still struggling with what works. There is no formal coaching process defined. Tools to support coaching efforts are few and far between, and there are no established best practices.

Formal coaching: A formal coaching process exists at this level, ideally derived from the customer’s journey. The frontline managers have been trained and educated, and they are required to use the coaching approach to improve performance. Enablement produces coaching guidelines and tools and provides related training sessions to develop the managers and to support their efforts. Best practices are documented and formalized.

Dynamic coaching: The ultimate goal, dynamic coaching, only happens when the formal coaching approach is also tightly aligned with the enablement approach, ensuring that coaching reinforces the enablement investments. At this level, there are principles and best practices, and frontline managers have developed a coaching fluency that allows them to adapt their approach to a dynamic selling and buying environment. Ideally, frontline managers are measured and compensated in part based on how they coach and their commitment to consistent and effective coaching practices.

 Sales Coaching: The Results Are In

With an understanding of the four levels of coaching, let’s look at what our research tells us. Our 2016 sales enablment organisational study uncovered a clear improvement in both win rate and quota attainment as organizations moved from ad-hoc coaching to dynamic coaching. Win rate jumps to an astounding 17.4%.

Amazingly, the study also found that 72% of sales organizations have only an ad-hoc or informal coaching approach. Another 21.7% said they have a formal approach, but only 5.3% said it is aligned with their sales enablement programs.

For organizations looking to create a sustainable competitive advantage, a formal coaching program may be just the ticket.

Tamara-Blue-5-213x220Guest blog contribution

By Tamara Schenk

Research Director, CSO Insights


Reblogged from Integrity Solutions.

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Author and sales expert Dave Kurlan doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the state of sales: “Ineffective salespeople—weak and poor performers—make up a whopping 62% of the sales population.” It’s common that many sales managers feel the daily weight of this statistic.

What contributes to it? We know there is no shortage of books and trainings trying to fix the problem, so why are so many sales professionals struggling?

To answer that question, I asked Alan Allard, founder and CEO of Genius Dynamics, Inc. He is an expert in human behavior and performance improvement for sales professionals and sales leaders and specializes in performance management in organizations.

In my interview, I wanted an answer to this overriding, troublesome dilemma in the sales community, and so posed this question: “Despite all the money invested in training salespeople to sell more, there is still a substantial deficit in the number of effective salespeople. What’s your take on that?”

Alan provided 4 key reasons, which can be used in any area of talent development:

1. Training alone won’t solve our sales challenges – follow-up coaching is essential.

Training is the main go-to resource for increasing sales, but it does not truly facilitate behavior change. Coaching is ideally suited to meet that need. Training can raise awareness, impart important information but it falls short in changing behavior. So, as an example, if a salesperson isn’t consistently asking for referrals, a workshop telling him or her effective language to use is necessary—but not sufficient.

In my experience, this is the challenge with any skill training initiative – talking about a skill, does not a skill make.

2. We’re not asking the right questions.

Alan suggests there are two primary questions sales professionals must be able to sufficiently answer if they want to increase their sales and income.

The first is: “What behaviors or action must I consistently engage in to sell more, to sell faster, or to sell bigger?” The answer would probably entail prospecting for new business, asking for referrals, following an effective sales model, selling on value and not price, providing great service, and so on.

The second question is “How can I get myself to execute the things I already know to do?” Alan went on to share a very important insight that can help sales managers utilize their training budgets much more successfully.

Sales professionals (even new ones) know “what” they need to do. It’s getting themselves to do what they know, and to do it consistently. Every salesperson knows they need to prospect for new clients. But few do it day in and day out. We can learn all the how-tos from sales managers, workshops, books, podcasts and blog posts. The challenge isn’t the knowing—it’s the doing.

3. Sales professionals aren’t adequately dealing with very common performance blockers – guilt and shame.

The ongoing “what” messages they hear without successful change generates guilt and shame. All the continuous training or input from a manager encourages and reiterates the “what”: motivate yourself, be optimistic, and bounce back from your setbacks. But if it doesn’t occur, they feel guilty about not doing what they know to do to reach the next level. That emotional weight then makes it harder for them to do what they must do to sell more effectively.

Sales professionals know guilt and shame slows them down but they don’t know how to stop it and ironically they are too embarrassed to discuss it and many sales managers don’t have the emotional intelligence and therefore insight to sufficiently addressed.

4. Generic sales training is not a one-size fit all – but is treated as such.

They are not customized for the unique needs of each salesperson and leave out “asking the how question”. It’s not that generic training can’t be helpful on some level, however, they do fall short because the how to apply the generic tactics will be very different for each salesperson. We all know motivation is as unique as each person is.

These four reasons really can be applied to any professional skill that needs to be developed from leadership to time management. They summarize the challenges organization have in approaching training, skill, and capability development from a generic, singular, one size fits all approach.

Strategies to Implement

So what’s the solution? Alan suggests and uses a high-impact solution to address the low percentage of successful sales persons. It is a two pronged use of coaching.

External Coaching: This can be done as a one-on-one format or as a facilitated peer group coaching. The first is faster but the second can be very effective. Coaching is ideal for finding specific answers that work for the person being coached. Coaching allows the coach to ask enough questions to dig deep enough to find answers to that “how” question for each sales person.

Internal Coaching: Alan teaches his clients how to utilize self-coaching to reach higher levels of sales success and has done so no matter what level of struggle. The best way to learn how to self-coach, Alan suggests, is to start with being coached by an expert coach. But even if that doesn’t happen, a salesperson can do so with a proficient self-coaching model and external support.

Alan calls his coaching model “GPS.” Here’s a simple introduction to it:

G = Goals (Identify your goals. Are they yours or your sales manager’s? Do you own them?)

P = Plan (What’s your action plan that will get and keep you going? This is where you consider what you’ve been doing so far—what’s worked well and what hasn’t worked so well? What obstacles to your plan have you run up against? What are your solutions?)

S = Support (This includes external and internal support. External support includes a number of things: Do you need more support from your company in some way? Do you need training on your CRM? What do you need from your manager or what do you need more of? Can a colleague help you in some way? Do you need to understand your sales model better—perhaps practice it with your manager or a colleague?)

Internal support means learning how to play the inner game better by self-management, including training psychological and emotional training, mental mastery, and emotional intelligence. This element is the foundation to the rest of the “GPS” model.

Alan’s suggestions teach us that taking a much more committed and strategic approach to sales training and development is absolutely necessary if we do not want our sales force to reside in the 66%. “if you want to learn more about how Alan helps increase sales, visit his website.

As a sales manager or individual sales professional, what next steps will you take to integrate the insight and advice that has been shared?

JoAnn Corley is a passionate champion of human potential with a focus on leadership and organizational success. She has the crazy belief that we can create our best leaders and businesses from the best of our human selves. Her overall mission is to help companies put the human back in human resource though holistic talent management. She leverages her knowledge of human behavior in marketing her boutique consulting firm across a variety of channels. She has been consistently recognized as one of the top 100 most social HR & management experts to follow on social media @joanncorley.

Source:- https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2016/09/biggest-reasons-sales-not-where-you-want.html


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A few weeks ago, we discussed coaching essentials and, in particular, how much time best-in-class performers spend on coaching their salespeople so that everybody wins. Let’s take another look at what coaching is and what it isn’t:

Sales coaching is a leadership skill to develop each person’s full potential. Sales managers use their domain expertise, along with social, communication, and questioning skills, to facilitate conversations with their team members that allow them to discover areas for improvement and possibilities, to break through to new levels of success. Successful coaches are also able to reinforce salespeople’s values and beliefs about selling as a way to create value for customers. As a result, it’s a practice that connects with people’s hearts as well as their minds, helping them develop confidence, see past their own self-imposed limits, and take ownership of their success.

Coaching isn’t about catching mistakes and solving people’s problems. Nor is it reviewing opportunities based on questions like, “What’s your forecast this week?” or, “I need you to increase your pipeline.”

The foundation for effective coaching: A coaching framework

Effective coaching doesn’t just happen. One of the key factors high performers have in place to ensure that coaching is successful and delivers increased sales performance is a coaching framework or process. As our data shows, the lack of a coaching process is still a big gap in sales organizations: 45% of respondents from our 2015 Sales Enablement Optimization Study reported that coaching is left up to the managers, 25.5% have an informal coaching process, and only 20.2% indicated they have a formal coaching process. These numbers reveal a huge opportunity for improvement, because as we’ll see, formalization pays off. Significantly.

A coaching framework consists of a formal coaching process that follows the customer’s journey mapped to your sales process. Additionally, you need various coaching services to bring coaching alive in your organization. These might include guidelines that have coaching questions for each stage along the customer’s journey covering different use cases.

Coaching services also encompass development programs for the sales managers, giving them the foundational learning they need to develop their coaching skills generally and specifically as it relates to sales. Learning best practices, such as ongoing reinforcement, application, and follow-up are also critical.

Last but not least, coaching should leverage technology. The more data a sales manager has access to, like the actions salespeople have taken, content that has been shared, and how the prospect has reacted, the more effective a coaching process can become. In an ideal world, the salesperson should have received new ideas on actions that were not successful to sharpen the deal strategy or the engagement model.

Creating an effective coaching framework starts with mapping the organization’s sales processes to the customer’s journey to see how each phase of the sales professional’s journey corresponds to the customer’s journey, and even more importantly, the required gates between each phase. For each gate on the customer’s side, there has to be an equivalent on the sales side.

Companies then need to ensure that coaching sessions reinforce and enforce that both activities from the customer and the sales side have actually occurred. For example, it is not enough to know that the salesperson has sent the prospect a needs analysis review email. They also need to ensure that the key stakeholder has emailed back confirming the sales professional’s assumptions or clarifying any misunderstandings.

To get started, your coaching framework should cover the most essential coaching areas: coaching on skills and behaviors as well as lead and opportunity coaching. Both areas have overlaps, as coaching on an opportunity may also address behavioral issues. On the other hand, whenever an organization is going through a sales transformation, for instance, from product selling to value-based selling, coaching on skills and behaviors should be the priority. Most of the time, successfully changing behaviors takes time and an excellent coaching approach to making the changes sustainable. Therefore, the combination of initial training sessions for salespeople and ongoing, specific coaching sessions on skills and behaviors should lead to initial success (low-hanging fruit)and drive sustainable change in salespeople. Gentle change is lasting change, and it needs a well-thought-through coaching approach, as described above.


Formal coaching drives win rates of forecasted deals up to 9 percent!

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As mentioned above, formalizing coaching is not meant to keep you busy. Instead, implementing a coaching framework is a necessity if coaching is to drive sales results. Our data shows a significant impact. Think about what a 9% increased win rate for your forecasted deals could mean. We are sure this is a number you cannot ignore!

Coaching matters. Coaching matters even more when it’s set up the right way. Formalize your coaching approach to driving sustainable sales results.




About the Author




Tamara Schenk, Research Director, CSO Insights

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