All Posts by Mike Allison

Strategies For Reinforcing Training & Becoming A World-Class Coach

This is the sales training and coaching podcast. A podcast featuring some of today’s most innovative trainers, coaches and sales leaders, sharing insights about what works and what’s coming next in the world of sales, training and coaching. Here are your hosts Mike Allison and Jeremy Shere.

Jeremy Shere: Ok Mike, how are you, how are things in Canada.

Mike Allison: Things here are great.. a little bit on the cold side…it gets cold here you know.

Jeremy Shere: I’ve heard that, actually in Indiana it gets a little gets a little nippy, just not as cold as Canada.

Mike Allison: Oh, so you don’t get 30 or 40 below Celsius  in January? Oh well we do.. I’m sitting here with my parka on as we do this…no I don’t have my parka on…

Jeremy Shere: That would be funny if you did. So for this episode of the podcast we talked to Chris and Andy from OTD and you know these guys a little bit right? Tell us a little bit about these guys.

Mike Allison: Oh yeah I know these guys well because I’ve actually done a lot of work with them. So Andy Crotty and Chris Cummins are the co-founders of OTD, which is a Birmingham - based consulting and training company. 

OTD, just so you know, stands for Our Training Department. When a company needs training they say ‘who do we call for this training?’ They say, let’s call Our Training Department. Andy and Chris both came out of the pharmaceutical industry and what they have really specialized in, amongst other things, but they do a lot of training in coaching sales managers and training sales people in selling skills and really helping companies to ensure that the training they give their sales reps and their sales managers gets pulled through so that the skills get embedded.  

They are very much, and our audience will hear this on the interview, they are very much about, not just doing a workshop and leaving but making sure that there’s follow  up that’s done after the training so that the individuals trained really start to use the skills they learnt, that those become their habits.

Jeremy Shere: Ok Let’s get to it.

M.A. - Welcome Andy and Chris. Andy I would like to get your input. How to approach sales training and coaching? What’s your governing philosophy when it comes to that?

A:  I think Chris would agree to this one. When we first started out back in 2007, our philosophy then was, the answers is yes, what’s the question? We focus very much on workshops and delivering inspirational workshops where we get great feedback from our delegates and that was all fantastic.

What we quickly realized is that, that didn’t effect any change. That left us feeling quite frustrated and obviously with the client also would feel frustrated as well.

Philosophy's changed a little bit now. Away from the instant gratification of a great workshop. How do we get the organization aligned with what we try to do and then how do we follow that up as well. So the philosophy now is not workshops but more about programs.

A source of frustration as well is we’ve faced in the past is, often when companies instigate sales training for example, it’s aimed very much at the sales reps and the sales reps alone. But if you really want to make that step change and get things to happen, then the marketing team needs to be involved, sales management needs to be involved.

Everybody needs to align around this new set of training, otherwise it’s an isolation and it basically dwindles away, and the same is true of coaching.  Obviously we do a lot of coaching and we find it particularly effective when you align upskilling the managers to coach to something.

So if you align coaching to sales training for example, you get much better results in the long run. So I guess that’s our philosophy now, programs, not workshops and getting that change in what we are trying to do.

Mike Allison: What we’d like to know, to your mind, what’s the key, what are the keys to ensuring that sales training and coaching gets results?

Chris: Well I suppose it’s an invention that came about was a thing called Carpe Diem. So that is a program in and of itself. That’s Carpe Diem coaching. The whole premise of it, is that it takes 21 to 28 days to make or break a habit. So we will not just rely on the delegates to walk away from the training and say ‘ yeah we got a change’.

So one of the great things about Carpe Diem is that it tracks over the month after the training, exactly what the delegates are doing. And each delegate has a coach and the coach will coach them and work with them for 7 minutes every day.

The person has to work on 3 different goals. One would be a key goal, so that’s something that they have to, before they even get back home, have to achieve over the day. One of them is a reluctant goal, so that’s something that they are probably going to procrastinate over and we all have those sorts of things and the third one is a champagne goal, which is if you did that today, what impact would it have over the next 30 days to 6 months.

So that is one of the programs which we, as a result of focusing less on an event and more on a program, and Andy can definitely back me up on this, we’ve had a big increase in the number of customers who want that because it’s measurable. 

Mike: Now Andy, based on your own experiences and insights into sales and coaching, what would you say is the most common reason that sales leaders neglect coaching their team members?

Andy: That’s an interesting word, neglect. The way I would probably phrase it more is they prioritize other things sometimes and I think that, certainly the first line managers in a lot of the companies that we work with have a multitude of responsibilities.

They are often called into the office to do meetings and marketing meetings etc. I find that they will often prioritize that over a coaching visit with their people. There’s also ‘a’ culture within the company and how they  establish the coaching culture. Even in the same companies we work with the cross over geography, a region, you will see some managers that will  do 3 days in the field a month, and then other managers that will do 15. You get this variety and that’s often the culture that is developed by the 2nd line sales person who is more senior.

Then added on to that, where you get first line managers who are actively coached by their bosses as well. I think when you do get that, that in turn has an impact on how they work with their own people as well. 

Mike: Now I’m interested in knowing, Chris, how has developing a coaching culture affected the sales organization in the companies that you work with, and if you have any specific examples of how developing a coaching culture has really helped improve business results for the companies you work with.

Chris: Funny you should say that. I was working with one this morning. I have an example from the past, where we spent the best part of 4 or 5 years working with one company, running the bi-annual workshops, or coaching. That was it. And then a new guy came in and said, ‘I don’t really understand why you’re sending me feedback forms, it’s not one of my goals or objectives’.

Then I had to sort of take a step back and say, what are we trying to do here with these guys? There are people all over Europe in this situation who’ve benefited from the training but actually they’re not benefiting from anything else..and that’s where the Kirkpatrick model came into being really, for us.

Also another article which focuses on developing a world class coaching culture. There are a number of indicators which you can use  to show a company whether or not they’re managing coaching culture. One of them is involving the senior leaders.

As Jeremy was talking about, getting them to coach their coaches as well. So we approached the organization and said, look, you’re absolutely right, what we’ve got to focus on now is the second line managers.

It was really interesting because he called all the 2nd line managers across Europe together and the excuses these managers gave, and I use that word on purpose, because they were saying: ‘Oh that means that if we free up time to give our managers more time to coach people and start creating this coaching culture, then it means we have to do more work’.

It just went silent in the room. We weren’t going to answer, and I think the light bulb suddenly went off, because a lot of them were giving their sales managers "development opportunities," in parenthesis as it were.

So they weren’t really development opportunities. It was just passing off and giving them more work to do. And you know, the great thing was, once they had that lightbulb moment, there were 2 things that happened.

Within 6 months the amount of time in the field for their coaches went up from being 28% of time in the field to 65% of time in the field…you might think that that’s fantastic, but the cynic would say that’s fine but how are they doing in the field?

A year later, that team was top region, and they remained top region as a result. So they actually developed this coaching culture now to the point where a lot of time we get calls from the general manager, who is one up from the 2nd line sales manager, asking us to work with the 2nd line manager to help them give them more coaching  tools  to coach their first line managers.

So it’s definitely made a shift. And I’m sure Andy has loads of examples as well with some of the accounts which he is responsible for. So that’s just one example.

Mike: Wow..that’s really interesting. So Andy, what is the secret from your perspective to becoming a world class coach?

Andy: We finally found you Mike…I have to think about this question and I think there are a few things.

I used to have an old boss of mine, used to every month put an hour in his diary and it was called one-to-one with Humphrey. I couldn’t work out what this was initially, but eventually we found out. And what it was, he protected that time every month and he would just basically sit down on his own, no phone calls, no emails, nothing and just think about his team and his business and what actions he needed to do to support his people over the next month.

It seems like a simple idea. If you want to be a world class coach, you’ve got to plan to do it. We can all have flashes of brilliance in the moment, occasionally this happens but my belief is that if you want to be a world class coach you’ve got to plan to make that happen. Give yourself time to be on the business, and not in it.

And during that time you can start to think about what are the needs of your people  and how you can start to tie in your coaching to what they need. I think that if you can give yourself that time you can also be a lot more creative than you would be if you were doing everything on the house.

There are a couple more things you can do to be a world class coach. We all continue to need development and make sure you keep each other, and this might sound a little counterintuitive, Chris is the most avid reader of books I’ve ever met and I think that’s really important.

This might sound a little bit strange as well. It’s also good to read really good fiction, because in reading those books, you get different ideas that spark our creativity as to what you can do, different scenarios that help you think differently than how you might traditionally think.

Jeremy: Do you think that anyone can become a world class coach or at least a competent, very good coach? Or does it take a certain kind of personality type to really get good at it?

Andy: I’m going to link that question back to the 2nd line and senior leader coaching culture.  I think there is a big pressure on people in those positions to know the right answer. They perceive they know the right answer and the way forward. So again, I think one of the key requirements of a world class coach is to first of all accept that you don’t always know the answer, and you can co-create the answer with your coachee, just by good listening and good questions.

So can anybody be a word class coach? I think there is a certain skill set that you need as a prerequisite to be that, and that’s the skills you need to develop first. If you can’t listen then you’re probably not going to be a great coach. 

Mike: Chris, I’m throwing this one back at you. What role does coaching play in the reinforcement of training? In other words, why is this so important if you want to reinforce training that people have already been put through?

Chris: Yeah, really interesting. I’ll just tell you a story from today without naming names. I did a workshop in Japan 3 months ago, and actually we did it with a simultaneous translator as well and the whole point was, the trainer who was involved in this with me,  she was observing me, she after the training, our job was to start reinforcing all of it with the sales managers.

She came back to say that she doesn’t feel confident enough based on what was observed during the training. So what we decided to do,  was just about to put a proposal together and was going to speak to Andy and after it to figure out who the right coach should be, we all agreed as a business and we should have the right coach for her so that she can then coach those people to reinforce the training right.

So for me that’s an example of where coaching is so important in reinforcing training. I think the companies realize themselves, in fact the guy that is the global head of L&D phoned me straight away afterwards and he said ‘Isn’t that amazing Chris, we train these guys up, we run these train the trainers, they walk away saying, fantastic, this is great life changing, but then what we don’t do is, we don’t check to see their level of confidence in delivering this in their own markets. So there you go, that’s the missing piece."

So he’s decided that, that lady is going to get possibly all of 5 coaching interventions on Skype. Not to focus on the content, but to focus specifically on coaching her, so she feels confident enough to coach these guys. So here’s an example. They’re happy to invest the money in her, that wasn’t part of the original plan. So there is an example, if that helps.

Mike: Andy, what support and resources are available to organizations, to companies, when it comes to coaching and training?

Andy: I think they probably have more resources internally than they currently understand and  it involves a bit of a pitch right now, what the organizations think they need, is a quick-fit selling model to sort out the problems of the fullness of the brand and sales team.

But actually what they’ve got in house we’re going to try to hopefully help them realize across the business, they’ve got all sorts of people that can help develop that internally. How they set it up, how they get a change program happening. Try to do things in isolation, work with their internal resources first.

And then I think there are a plethora of L&D organizations out there they could look to and if they came to us to think about how they can get the program going, I think we are confident that we can do the great workshops for them, as probably most organizations like us are as well, but I think what we are also developing here is a bench marking system for coaching skills and for selling skills.

They want to look at where their organization is currently, what’s the level of skills before the program starts. We can do that and then re-benchmark after the program and then 6 months later to really show them that step change they are achieving through delivering great content but also reinforcing it with great coaching.

So now there are resources available which can begin to look at the Holy Grail of looking at the impact of your training for your business. 

Mike: Chris, please share with us your favourite quote.

Chris: A year ago I got this famous quote which sticks in my head anyway, “Don’t focus on comparing yourself against other people”. Basically the best comparison is you versus you yesterday.

Mike: And Andy, we’d like to hear yours too. Do you have a favourite quotation that you’d like to share with our listeners?

Andy: As the organization that we are and the clients that we work with, together with them we can create the right environment for people to improve and to learn to develop. We can create that environment and give them some tools, techniques and all that stuff.  This isn’t really a quote really, but the advice given is, when it comes to self development or personal development then all of us are self-employed. No one’s going to do that for you, create the environment. If you want to change, it’s down to you ultimately.

Mike: Great. Now finally, what is the one piece of advice that you’d like to leave our listeners with?

Chris: Yeah, it’s funny, it’s very close to Andy’s really. This was my philosophy when I was working, cause we don’t like to view this as working anymore, When you’re working you rent your services to an employer. Now it’s up to you how you want to be. Either you want to be absolutely world class, so that any employer would refer you, or you can just be pretty average, don’t put your head above the parapet, and just turn up and show up for work.

It doesn’t matter whether you work for a company or not, we’re all self-employed as Andy said. Be the best you can be every single day.

Mike: So I want to thank both of you guys for taking time today. Thank you for answering some of the questions for us in providing us with insights that you’ve gathered over the years to really help organizations get the most out of their training so that their people can really put into practice what they learned and that way companies get a great return on investment when they are doing training. Thank you both so much.

That does it for this episode of The Sales Training & Coaching Podcast. If you liked what you heard, we want to ask for your help to make the podcasts even better.

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Thanks for listening.

Get Some Exercise Every Day – Day 3 of 30 Days To Your Best Year Ever

get some exercise everyday

Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

Get some exercise every day if you want to be happier, healthier, have a better mindset and want to achieve your goals easier and faster.

This video is all about making sure that you have time, set some time aside everyday to get some exercise, to move your body. 

If you have to get up 30 minutes earlier than normal in order to get some exercise in, that's what you should be doing, because having a healthy body, being in good shape physically, is directly tied to your mental state, to your energy levels and how you're going to react and act towards your customers and your potential customers.

Get some exercise every day!!!!

So make sure you take some time out of your day, every single day, to get some good exercise, to get your heart rate up, you should be breathing at a pace that makes it just a little bit difficult to carry on a conversation, although you should still be able to carry on a conversation.

So you might include doing some treadmilling, some cycling, you can do some resistance training, good for the muscles too, but really make sure that you take time everyday to do some exercise because that's really gonna help you to achieve your goals this year.  

If you need some help to get focused and achieve your personal and business goals for 2018, feel free to contact me for a FREE coaching session.


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Be Productive Without Being Rushed – Day 2 of 30 Days To Your Best Year Ever

be productive without being rushed

Photo by Anthony Tran on Unsplash

Be productive without being rushed. Yes, it's possible and it's something you should aim to achieve.

One of the things I would like to suggest you do to get your year off to a great start is to learn to be productive without being rushed. 

It's really great if you can learn to work in a way that you still have enough downtime to refresh yourself, to relax a little bit and recharge.

And one of the things that you'll find helpful in doing that is to make sure that you have your priorities set properly, that's the first thing. 

So, you're going to have periods of time during the day when you really focus, completely, 100 percent on a particular task, but once you've got that task completed you should have some downtime scheduled in there so you can refresh yourself, relax a little bit, and get refocused for the other work that you have ahead. 

And this means that you've gotta learn to say no to the things that really aren't important, things that aren't going to result in giving you the real results that you want. 

So say yes to the things that are vital in order to accomplish whatever your goals are, but learn to say no, otherwise you'll find that you're literally swamped with far too many things to do. 

One of the things that will help is if you block of times for complete focus on your work followed by times of rest, relaxation, and an opportunity to recharge. 

I find that working in about 50-minute work sprints helps me to do that. I'll set a timer, work for 50 minutes on something, and when I do that everything else is turned off so I can completely focus on the task at hand. 

Once the 50 minutes is finished I'll take a 15-minute, complete break from work. If you do that, you'll find that doing 4 or 5 of those 50-minute work sprints every day will help you to be super productive without feeling rushed. 

  • Learn to be productive without being rushed.
  • Set the right priorities.
  • Learn to say no to activities that aren't going to lead you towards your goals.
  • Work in blocks of time with a break in between.

Try these suggestions out and let me know how you do with that. I'd love to hear your comments and please share this video if you liked it.

30 Days To Your Best Year Ever – Day 1 – January 1st 2018

30 days to your best year ever? That's right!

To kick things off for January 1st, I would like to encourage you to make a commitment this year to spend more time, not less time, with your loved ones, with the people who are most important to you, and those would be your family members. 

I know a lot of people in the sales industry spend a lot of time traveling. Same with sales coaches and trainers. 

Many of you are on the road hundreds of days every single year. Here's what I'd like you to think about. 

You're spending hours, days, even months helping other people to develop, to perform better, to achieve their goals. 

But when you think about the balance between helping other people, your customers and the people who work for your customers, and helping your own family members, that could be your spouse, your children, your parents; how much time, relatively speaking, with those people who are the most important in your life in comparison to the time you spend with people, who in many cases, are more or less acquaintances. They're not even necessarily really close friends of yours. 

If you find that you're spending a lot of time away from your family, traveling in order to serve customers, help customers, and that the time your spending with your family and loved ones is much less in comparison, do you think that's reasonable?

Do you think you would refer to that as having balance in your life? 

Would it make sense to be spending more time with the people who are really of most value, the most important, the most precious to you?

Or does it make sense to be spending so much of your time with other people, away from your home, your family members, and your children if you have children?  

Only you can answer those questions. I know what the answer is for me, but I'd like to encourage you to think about that. 

If you're a sales coach/trainer, how much time are you spending traveling all over the world to serve your customers in comparison to the time you actually spend with your family members?

There's warning here too!

A lot of people say it doesn't matter how much time you spend with your kids or your spouse or your loved ones, it's the quality of the time. 

That's not true.

In fact, that's just an excuse to help soothe the consciences of those people who do travel too much and are away from their families too much. And here's why.

One thing that you can never schedule is "spontaneity." 

In order to enjoy those spontaneous moments with your love ones, with your children, that create memories that will last a lifetime, you need to be around because spontaneity, but it's very meaning, is something that's unplanned; it just happens. 

When you're away, spending too much time on the road, traveling, away from your family, you miss all kinds of the spontaneous moments that make life really worth living. 

I really hope you'll make a commitment to spending more time with the people who are most important to you in your life. 

If you are ready to get some needed coaching, feel free to contact me: 


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Just Suppose You’re A One Percenter

just suppose you're a one percenter

Just suppose you're a one percenter.

You've already achieved an outstanding result in one or more aspects of your life. 

It could be a very personal achievement, like being happily married for more than 63 years, like my parents. 

It could be an achievement related to your career or a business. 

Whatever it is, when people hear about it, they're impressed, even though your motivation for the achievement was never to impress anyone except, perhaps, yourself. 

Just suppose you're a one percenter, and someone were to ask you what it was that lead to the achievement you made?

How would you answer?

Have you actually ever sat down to consider what it was that lead you to achieving "one percenter" status in a particular area of your life?

The High-Performa​nce Habits Of One Percenters

As it turns out, there are specific habits that one percenters share in common. So, if you're a one percenter, have a look at the following and let me know if any of the following habits resonate with you.

1. Clarity & Purpose