One of the big mistakes I see in sales today—at all levels within an organization—is the belief that coaching and training are owed to us.
Don’t get me wrong: both are wise investments for employers to make in their people, and are vital ingredients in developing and refining both selling skills and people skills in a modern sales force.
But responsibility for that kind of growth rests fundamentally with you.
If your employer partners with you on your professional-development journey, great. On the other hand, if they’re unwilling or if the coaching or training they offer is done poorly, you still are responsible for what you choose next to do about it.
Know what’s within your power.
Learning is a choice. You exercise that choice best when you view it as one that’s not contingent on anyone else’s will or budget or priorities. You still have the ability to take meaningful, positive action toward personal and professional growth, even if you have to do so on your own.
That’s why self-coaching is a must-have skill. You exercise it independently: your choice, your way. It’s always within your power. Given this, consider how you can create a self-coaching plan for yourself: one that can govern both how you learn and how you conduct yourself in your day-to-day business.
You don’t find time, you make time for it.
Pulitzer Prize-winning author Charles Duhigg observed that “champions don’t do extraordinary things….they follow the habits they’ve learned.” Thus, self-directed learning is one of the most valuable habits you can engage. That will happen only if you make time for it. Make a commitment to yourself to carve out 30 minutes weekly for personal reading, to listen to a podcast, or to read a white paper. The more you exercise that learning muscle, the more powerful it will become. To that end, I highly recommend Triggers, by Marshall Goldsmith: a goldmine of wisdom on how to learn and refine your self-coaching skills.
Plan for yourself.
This is crucial if you’re in a sales role: the closer you stick to a well-defined process to govern your work habits, the better your outcomes will be. Start your plan by defining your Gap-to-Growth: identifying the deals you have closed versus the ones that have yet to be closed. Next, create a strategy for each of your mission-critical accounts. For each one, enter every task you must do for every week, quarter and year. That becomes your selling blueprint: a to-do list that regularly pops up and holds you accountable. And don’t just stop there. Create an organization chart so you can visualize where you are in your process and so you can see the relationship-building connections you’ve made or need to make.
Progress is seldom achieved as a steadily upward pointing line. There will be bumps. So be ready to reassess efforts on a weekly, monthly and quarterly basis and readjust where necessary.
On a weekly basis, review progress and see whether you’re ahead or behind. Decide what success you can leverage and consider which pinch points you can fix. On a monthly basis, take an hour to create an action plan for your month ahead. Document it in your CRM so you don’t miss anything. Review your individual account strategies and update any actions. On a quarterly basis: pinpoint your overall progress. Are you ahead or behind in achieving your goals? Wherever you see a pinch point, take your ego out of the solution. Ask yourself: “if I were coaching someone else with this problem, what would I tell them to do?”
Be wary, be wise.
Even those who self-coach can sometimes bring in outside help when necessary. But when you do this, be sure to be both wary and wise.
First, be wary of whom you hire as a coach or trainer. Do your homework and see for yourself that they have personally achieved the kind of success you’re looking to attain, and that they aren’t just making it up as they go along. Ensure they have what investor Warren Buffett once coined as “skin in the game:” a meaningful stake in your success.
Be wise, too. Recognize your good fortune when you have a partner, spouse or trusted friend who can coach you both professionally and personally. I’m very lucky that I have all three in one. I lean on Chris, my husband and business partner, for support in areas where I feel stuck. He brings clarity, motivation and objectivity: all indispensable to me.
Self-coaching is one of the most important choices you can make in your professional journey and in your personal growth. Like all responsibilities, it’s one that can be hard at times to persevere with, but it’s also one that will pay amazing dividends over and over. It’s your choice, your way: so make it count.
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Make sure you check out Colleen's latest book, Nonstop Sales Boom for powerful strategies to drive consistent sales growth quarter after quarter, year after year.
Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions (www.EngageSelling.com). Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.
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