IRC Book Club Episode 24 Keith Rosen ‘Sales Leadership’ Chapters 4, 5 & 6 ‘The Fall of the Problem Solver’

We’re on Chapters 4, 5 & 6 and I’d like to start off by saying that I’ve had two proper coaching interactions incorporating Keith’s techniques!

He’s got me thinking and more than anything, it’s nice to have a different strategy.

Chapter 4: ‘How to Coach in 10 minutes or less’

This chapter is about real world scenarios which is what we both like about the book. Keith talks about how if you’re chief problem solver, you’ll always be chief problem solver and you’ll never create any leverage. And once you teach people how to do something, you have leverage because they will have learned how to do it themselves and you won’t have to tell them again.

I’m alway careful in interviews, I never actually ask the question I want the answer to, because if you ask a straight question in an interview, you can easily get an interview answer, an edited answer. I find that when I interview people, they’re not consciously aware of how they do things. This is the first sales management book that we’ve read and when you read a book, it makes you more consciously aware of what you do – which is how you change your style.

It takes you out of your unconscious competence and into conscious competence. He’s our kind of thinker – he asks for an opinion, not a solution we also like his language, it’s very careful and precise He talks about how coaching never stops – if you’re a sales leader and you’re talking to sales people – you give some on the spot teaching – and a lot of people direct in those situations and don’t coach – we know we have! He also chats about mundane meetings and we’ve all been there, we’ve all sat in them.

A lot of the sales managers we work with are alphas – not necessarily in an aggressive way – and a lot of the salespeople we work with are pack animals (a Jordan Belfort metaphor for you) and if they think the alpha is weak, they will take him down. I think some of Keith’s advice doesn’t take this into account – he wants sales managers to be a bit too nice – in our experience, nice nice nice doesn’t really work.

Chapter 5: ‘Tools to Manage the Coaching Process and Assess Results’

We liked this chapter – we love the simplicity of some of Keith’s coaching forms, they’re refreshing and to the point. I really like sales leaders who go out on the road with their team. Because there’s no way you can coach someone if you don’t know what they’re like or what their style is – how can you coach if you don’t know what your colleague is like in front of clients?! Because they have no empathy with how that individual operates

Chapter 6: ‘Transforming Critical Conversations into Positive Change and Measurable Results’

I thought this was an odd chapter – don’t get me wrong, it’s good – I just got the feeling that we’ve already covered most of it But we did really enjoy the opening paragraph – Keith tells us how if you’re a sales leader and a member of your team makes a mistake – it’s your fault. Avalanches roll downhill. and we agree. You need to take ownership.

One section of ‘Sales Leadership’ we didn’t agree with was that Keith almost expected sales leaders to be able to manage their team at any given time – but this seems idealistic, people aren’t so far ahead that they have the time to do so. Overall though a lot of the tips Keith gives are completely right. Teaching too much develops learned helplessness

Maybe Keith should have included a coaching tool to see how measurable somebody is to coach. One question we’d like some feedback on is ‘do scripts scale dependency?’

We’ve often pointed out at IRC that companies should create a youth team and train, train, train them up to be good. Tip from us – Always have in your mind as a sales manager – ‘make sure I’m coaching’.

We’ve been slightly more critical of Keith on this episode than we were on the first, but lets be clear – if somebody asked me whether or not they should buy this book, my answer would be a definite yes.