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We sit down with Carl Coe, EVP of Client Development at PrecisionLender, who shares how to get the most out of your sales team, beginning with the difference between training and coaching.
You'll learn which behaviors are learned and which are innate within a salesperson, why coaching is crucial for your team, and how you can provide ongoing coaching.
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Jim Young: Hi, and welcome to The Purposeful Banker, the podcast brought to you by PrecisionLender, where we discuss the big topics on the minds of today's best bankers. I'm your host, Jim Young, director of communications at PrecisionLender. I'm joined today by Carl Coe, our new EVP of client development. Just to clarify because I'll be saying the name Carl throughout this episode, this is Carl Coe, not Carl Ryden our CEO, he'll be on future episodes, I'm sure, but just not today's.
That's because today we're gonna be talking about how to get the most out of your sales team. That's a topic that is right in Carl Coe's wheelhouse. So Carl, since you're new to the podcast, can you give our listeners a bit about your career background?
Carl Coe: Yeah, absolutely and thanks for having me, Jim. Excited to be here, excited to be with the company, it's everything I would have hoped it would be thus far. So, my career, I'm on of the lucky ones in that I always knew what I was gonna do. I always knew. I knew when I was probably eight years old when I was selling candy bars door to door for Little League and I won the ball glove every year. I was sort of meant to do this and work with clients, be on the business side, it was just always and obvious thing for me.
I grew up in a little farm town in Ohio. Went off to Ohio State and while I was at Ohio State, I was lucky enough, I worked for a company called University Directories. What we did, for those of you old enough to remember, we published the phones books for all the major universities.
Jim Young: I had one.
Carl Coe: Yeah, very good. What my job was to sell the yellow page ads in the back of the phone book. So I was placed, after my freshman year at Ohio State, I was placed at Northwestern University in Chicago, it was a phenomenal summer and did really well at it and from there I was promoted to run the west coast. So, while I was in school at Ohio State, I would fly out to the west coast to recruit my team for the next summer. I would go to UCLA or University of Washington and all this just incredible stuff and I wasn't even 21 yet. Just a great learning experience to build a team, then I would have to coach that team, and help drive success for the company throughout that summer.
Side note, I did meet my wife that summer, in Eugene, Oregon. She had just graduated from University of Texas and we met at Oregon and here we are in Cary, North Carolina all this time later. So there was a good part to it aside from the learning.
From there I started with ADP after college. Then the majority of my career I spent with a company called PTC. I spent 18 years with PTC. Anybody that knows Parametric Technology or is familiar with it, it's one of the great sales machines in the history of business. Phenomenal training, phenomenal product, phenomenal culture and it was a PHD in business and in selling. I was very fortunate to be a part of that.
From there went on to a company called HireVue, a mid-stage startup. Where I took that 18 years of PTC learning in a big company and was able to apply it in a different environment. Then obviously join here at PrecisionLender about a month ago. The best part, one of the best parts of PrecisionLender for me is that it's right down the street. If you can tell from what I was saying before, I've spent almost 25 years flying around on airplanes and PrecisionLender being right down the road doesn't hurt.
Jim Young: So, you're not from a banking background but I'm assuming, you feel like some of the lessons and things that you've learned in a career in sales are things that, I mean, there's gonna be things that are specific to banking, but there's some things in sales that you feel like just apply across verticals in general.
Carl Coe: Yeah, absolutely. One of the things that really appealed to me about what the team here has built is that we're enabling sales people, we're enabling RM's at the bank. While the function of what it is they're selling is different and every company has their own mix and match, but the process and teaching those people, helping and coaching those people through isn't all that different. So, what I've spent my career doing and learning actually applies directly, I believe, to what we do here for our clients.
Jim Young: So, let's go back to some of your early days here and I'm gonna kind of change the question here based off of what you first described with your background. Sounds to me like you're a bit of a natural and so I'm curious whether you feel like sales people, great sales people are, is it nature or nurture? Do they come out of the womb knowing how to sell or can you make, could you take me and make me into a great sales person?
Carl Coe: You? Absolutely, but maybe not everyone. But it's both and that sounds like a cop out but it really is both. Yeah, you have to have certain innate skills, you've gotta have the DNA to be able to, want to be able to communicate with people. But just because you can, maybe, talk to someone or maybe light up a room, actually doesn't at all mean that you'll an effective sales person or RM. You have to be able to connect what it is you are offering to value. You have to be able to connect it a problem that someone is trying to solve.
That's actually one of the great misnomers about selling anything. If it's a very simplistic product and you buy it based on personality, maybe you can get away with it. The reality is all about connecting your offering to what problem you're trying to solve and that's learned.
Jim Young: Okay. I'm curious, how did you learn it then? Like, what were your learning experiences like before you were managing sales people, when you were on the front lines? How did people teach you and looking back on it, did they teach you well? Knowing what you know now, did you get the, were you taught well or were you, did you sort of maybe succeed in spite of it?
Carl Coe: I think probably, if I look back, in the early days you sort of survive and thrive on your innate skills. The analogy that jumps to mind might be an NBA player, since NBA season just started. Those early years of an NBA player's career, they're surviving purely on talent. They're doing well because they've got skill. But if you watch the progression of an NBA player, towards the end of their career, they're winning on knowledge, they're succeeding on knowledge. I think, it's not a direct corollary, but I think it's similar.
For me, I probably made a lot more mistakes, but made a lot of plays based on whatever innate skills I might of had. But having a coach over my shoulder, I think of a guy names John Kaplan who went on to create a company called, one of the great sales training companies in the world called Force Management. John was a great coach and he wasn't afraid to tell you what he saw. When you're full of confidence and you think you know it all in the world early in your career, you need someone to tell you the truth and John was great at that.
Jim Young: Yeah, I'm glad you brought in the athletics analogy. One, because if you listen to the podcast you know I love athletics analogies to begin with. I would have gone with the fire-balling, left-hander who then learns how to sort of get by on a little bit of craft later on in his career, but, yeah. But also because you also brought in the word coach. That's really getting to the main thing I wanted to talk about today in the podcast, which is the concept of coaching versus training. Having this conversation with you off the air, it seems like there's sometimes people can [flight 00:08:15] the two and think they're the same thing but they're not.
Carl Coe: They're dramatically different. In fact, without the coaching, the training will fail. I think that's one of the great mistakes that companies make, that organizations make. They'll spend an immense amount of money on a training program and very little money on a coaching program. The success or failure of those training dollars is directly related to the coaches that are reinforcing it. So, using the sports analogy again, you teach them how to run the plays but if you don't couch on those plays and practice those plays, when you get to game time, they're gonna fail.
It is a very similar situation and coaching is not just reinforcing training, there's a lot more to it indeed. When you put it in connection to a dollar spent on training or initiative spent on training, I would say it's probably 100 to 1 in favor of training versus coaching and I think industry could learn from that.
Jim Young: Why do you think that is? I mean, when you put there in kind of common sense terms, it makes perfect sense what you said and yet, people are going out and spending on the opposite.
Carl Coe: I think it's less obvious. It's very obvious that people need training.
Jim Young: Right.
Carl Coe: It's very obvious. I have a new set of employees, I need to train them on our tools, I need to train them on our process. You gotta do that. You might be missing your numbers, or you have big growth plans. One of the first things you're gonna do associated with that is a training initiative tied to that. But it's a lot less obvious to see that direct corollary between coaching and that training, it's just is not, it's not as easy, it's not as visual to see. Coaching happens every day, throughout the day, in a less obvious form.
A great coach to my mind, is the coach that an RM or sales person wants to go talk to. Hey, I'm facing this problem and I can't wait, or the person I automatically think of is my front line manager or my coach or my RVP. I walk in their office and I'm getting something from that conversation every time. That's hard to put in a presentation, it's hard to recognize versus a training initiative, it's a million dollars, I'm gonna get this amount of return, et cetera.
Jim Young: And you can check that off, training completed, whereas coaching is never completed. Along those lines, then, I'm gonna go back to the athletics thing again where they, a lot of times, will talk about great athletes don't make great coaches. How often do great sales people make great sales coaches?
Carl Coe: That's a good, very good question. The thing that jumps to mind is a study that Google did, I think it was around 2012 or so, it was called The Oxygen Program. What they wanted to look at was, or what they were looking at, were what were the attributes that made great managers? What they discovered I think surprised them. It was that great managers actually are great coaches, they empathize, they care, they have knowledge, they have knowledge on the subject. But what they found, knowledge on the subject was last on the list of key attributes. It was all the innate things around empathy and real skill in the conversation. Giving the individual that was being coached or managed the sense that it mattered and that they were accessible and that sort of thing.
So, if you look at the skills of a great sales person, do they have all those skills? Not necessarily at all. I think it's more about analyzing those skills than it is performance. The mistake companies make is they look at performance and then they automatically promote.
Jim Young: Right, yeah, the great sales person should then be promoted to VP of sales, not necessarily the same thing. Yeah, that's called Project Oxygen and we'll have a link to that and Carl sent me a flurry of articles about sales coaching that we'll have links to all of those up on the post when we post this later on.
I was fascinated by the one because this was Google and a lot of engineers and what they pointed out was that a lot of times, engineers probably think they need management the least. That was kind of what they actually set out to prove, was essentially why management is not important and they ended up proving the exact opposite. That essentially, someone like you would be able to fit in and actually manage engineers, in a sense because it's necessarily the technical skills, it's the ability to coach people. That was really interesting stuff.
What about, you know, how do you, the playbook, I guess. We're really going deep on the athletic analogies on this one.
Carl Coe: It's easy between you and I.
Jim Young: Well, and again, we're talking coaching, we're talking coaching here too. How you coach, I guess another reason coaching maybe doesn't get emphasized is because it's hard. I what I was just thinking about is that you can have this thing of here's how I coach but it's gotta change with every single person, for a banker, or every single RM's gotta be slightly different, right?
Carl Coe: Absolutely, you really have to ... You know, one of the key elements of successful coaching is you've gotta build the right structure as an organization. So if you're an RVP and you've got 20 RM's, it is going to be really hard to be a good coach. So how you structure your go to market organization at the very beginning is critical. You have to have a team of maybe six or eight RSMs that you're coaching, so you can really understand what drives that individual. You really have tap into not only what drives that individual, but the inputs, the metrics that are happening in that individual's business.
So, one of the things I like to talk about is measure and coach on inputs not outputs. So if you're only coaching on the end or the numbers, it's too late. You need to understand what that individual is doing every day, are they pricing the right way, are they handling conversations the right way. So you have to have the structure, then you have to know what the right inputs are. How do you know what the right inputs are? You have to have the right tools, the right process to know what to coach on.
Jim Young: Yeah, that's a really good point on there. I'm also curious, we talk a lot about empowerment here, RM empowerment. Empower your RM's, you've gotta give your Rm's freedom. It's all well and good for us to sit there and say that. I gotta imagine that's gotta be a hard thing for a sales coach or an RM manager to do particularly when they have had, in the past, been very successful. How does a sales coach who knows that probably right now, they could do that other person's job better than them, let them do the job, not quite as well, to maybe to learn eventually how to do it well?
Carl Coe: Great point and it actually goes back to that Google study. One of the things that they discovered was that you can't be a micro-manager, it doesn't work for the individual that's being coached or managed. But it also doesn't drive the business. Ultimately what it said is that you can't just do and you can't just tell someone what to do.
Jim Young: Right.
Carl Coe: You have to model, you have to converse, you have to make it a part of a longer dialog and transfer the knowledge, not enforce the knowledge, or impart the knowledge so to speak. It's a hard thing to just teach instead of demand so to speak, or thou shalt. That's exactly what you're getting at in this scenario and what Google learned in their study and many actually, many other studies have also identified. In today's work environment, being a micro-manager and standing over the shoulder and sort of just doing the work in some cases, is not going to drive the organization.
Jim Young: So, one final thing here and maybe this is sort in defense of the RM managers and sales managers out there, is they're being held to numbers and that driven by numbers, how often do companies give their sales managers the freedom to coach? You know what I mean? And reward them for coaching rather than make sure your RM's or your sales people hit these goals and I don't care how you do it.
Carl Coe: Yeah, Jim. One of the, I actually think that frontline management role, no matter if it's in sales or engineering or any function. That frontline management role is the hardest job in any company. Let's use the sales scenario, let's say you're an RVP and you've got a team of 10 folks. You've gotta report up the numbers, you've got to deliver your goals and you've gotta motivate and coach and teach those team of 10. You've gotta interact with your prospects and your customers, every single day, all day long. You've gotta, at the end of the day as I said before, you've gotta post the numbers.
So, how are you being measured as a coach and ultimately, as you just said, most companies measure it based on the output only. Measure it only on the performance, did they make the number or not. Great companies measure are, what's the employee satisfaction, what percent of the team are achieving their goals, what percent of their team are being promoted, what's the longevity of their team? That then is incentivizing the right behaviors for a coach and the best companies do that.
Jim Young: Good deal. Alright, well, we could, I've said this before in a podcast, some of these things, we get on these topics and the person I know could talk about this for, could keep on talking about it. But we'll bring back on, I'm sure we'll have this and various other conversations about sales, in particular coaching that would love to talk to you about. But thanks for making your podcast debut today.
Carl Coe: Yeah, my pleasure, hope to be back.
Jim Young: And thanks for listening. If you'd like to learn more, visit our resource page at explore.precisionlender.com. If you like what you've been hearing, make sure to subscribe to the feed in iTunes, SoundCloud, Google Play or Stitcher. We love to get ratings and feedback on any of those platforms. Until next time, this has been Jim Young with Carl Coe and you've been listing to The Purposeful Banker.
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