- Research Interviews
Leverage Training to Build Stronger Sales Teams: An Interview with Glen Holden
At SalesGym, we’re always on the lookout for sales executives that have interesting and unique perspectives into selling, top performers, coaching, and building better sales teams. In a recent interview with Glen Holden, VP Sales Training at CareCredit, he shared some fresh perspectives into how sales teams can generate better results. His insights included:
- Another take on the “fake it till you make it” saying…
- Coaching needs to be a higher priority
- Utilize technology to multiply training results
- Fundamental advice for sales managers
Early in the interview, Glen shared with us what he’s observed in terms of the bad habits salespeople can get into,
“Some of the worst habits salespeople get into is they don’t plan and they try to shoot from the hip… they wing it.”
We’ve observed the same thing with the thousands of salespeople we’ve trained and coached over the last 30 years. The real objective of sales management and all the training investments we make is to get salespeople out of the “wing it” mode and into the well prepared, rehearsed and focused mode that creates consistently better results.
Another take on the “fake it till you make it” saying…
A popular saying that is often attributed to the cosmetics superstar, Mary Kay Ash, is “fake it till you make it” which is all about projecting confidence, even when you don’t feel it. This may have been a good idea in decades past, but Glen has another perspective on it,
“Typically poor performing salespeople are not asking the right questions because they don’t listen. Some people say, ‘I have to fake it to make it.’ That’s terrible advice! People say they fake it to make it and what happens is when they do something like that they end up talking too much because they’re not focused, they didn’t plan and they’re not asking the right questions or listening well.
We’ve found the most important preparation of all is practice and, in particular, the kind of steady, consistent practice we see elite sports teams and military units utilize to take performance to stratospheric levels.
Glen advises sales professionals to get on a continuous learning path,
If you're flying on an airplane or you've got time on a bus, read a book on sales and always try to develop yourself by taking that extra step that your peers aren't. - Glen Holden, VP Sales Training at CareCredit Click To Tweet
“Continue to be a student, read books and watch videos, do the things that other people aren’t doing to get better. Ask yourself, ‘What have I done to grow myself?’ If you’re flying on an airplane or you’ve got time on a bus, read a book on sales and always try to develop yourself by taking that extra step that your peers aren’t. That’s what’s going to set you up.”
Coaching needs to be a higher priority
Sales executives we interview tell us one of their biggest frustrations is despite how much they’ve invested in teaching sales managers to become better coaches, they don’t see the kind of front line coaching they’re hoping for. There are many causes of this and Glen shed some light on it,
“Managers don’t take the time to coach. One of the things that I see is managers spend too much time putting out fires instead of sitting back and saying, ‘Hey, there’s nothing more important than me developing my sales team. Sales managers can end up spending too much time looking through email and data in Salesforce.com. Salesforce.com data can be very powerful and useful, but managers just get sucked in on the amounts and gobs of data instead of managing their day correctly.”
To get more coaching from sales managers, it’s critically important to promote the right people, with a real aptitude for coaching, into those key sales management roles. It’s interesting that superstar salespeople don’t always make the best sales managers as Glen points out,
“When you look at top NBA stars like Larry Bird or Magic Johnson who tried their hand at coaching, they don’t make good coaches because their work ethic and the things that they would do, you’re just not going to get from the guy that sits in the middle of the bench. He’s just not going to work as hard or do the things that some of the Hall of Famers did to make themselves great. Those top performers lose that connection. You see this with some of the best sales reps that have been promoted be a sales manager who don’t always make the best managers.”
Utilize technology to multiply training results
Luckily, for sales manager that want to do more coaching, technology can be a big help. If sales teams can develop the habit of practicing with recording technology, it creates a fantastic way to improve coaching.
“All of our salespeople have an iPad and an iPhone and the power of those two devices to take and capture video to upload and get feedback from your manager is incredible. Managers are able to send video back saying, ‘Hey, good job, or you need to do this and this is what it should sound like, or this is the way to go.’ Managers don’t have to get on an airplane or make a three to four hour drive to spend the day in your company car. This has really helped our growth.”
Glen points out one of the critically important factors when it comes to utilizing recording technology for feedback,
“Managers have to provide timely feedback. There’s nothing more frustrating to a sales rep than a manager taking a month to provide feedback. That shows the rep that it wasn’t important.”
Ultimately, we need to follow the example of elite sports teams and integrate training and follow-up into every week and not think of training as a special event we go to once or twice a year. It needs to become more of a continuous learning approach with constant follow-up as Glen explains,
“What’s worked the best for us has been follow-up and leveraging systems to follow up on training. When I started in training there weren’t really follow up systems that were in place and the results just weren’t as good. Now we leverage question-based follow-up tools to prevent learning decay along with video role-playing tools. Technology has allowed us to do things that we weren’t able to do even five years ago.”
Fundamental advice for sales managers
Glen finished our interview with three pieces of advice for sales managers:
- If you're managing salespeople, number one observe and get out there in the field or on the phone with your people. See where their strengths and weaknesses are. There's nothing more important than getting with your people.
- Second, you need to understand and find out your sales team's baseline and try to coach up the ones that you can coach up and coach out the ones you can't coach up. That's probably the hardest decision a manager will make, knowing when to give up and coach somebody out of the organization.
- Finally, anybody can fire somebody. Anyone can start the paperwork but what have you done, as a manager, to try to help that person succeed? It's tough to figure out how much time to give them before you cut the cord and say, 'It's not a good fit.' That is a tough decision and every decision is different.
SalesGym is a research, consulting, and training company that works with and learns from sales teams all over the world and has refined a coaching and training process that trains sales teams the way elite athletes are trained. More insights and articles from us can be found on our RESOURCES PAGE.
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