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 cold..it 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.
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