Coaching

By Jeremy Blake on January 7, 2021

One of the best ways you can drive your business at the start of this new year is to use coaching; to have people coached and be coached, yourself.

It may be that you know a fair amount about coaching, have had a coach work with you, or you have invested time in learning and developing your coaching skills to help others. You may have heard about coaching; know a life coach near you, but for whatever reason haven’t gone any further, yet.

Coaching is new, very new. Whether it started with Timothy Gallwey and his book The Inner Game of Tennis first published in 1972, or it’s been around for hundreds of years and just hadn’t had a label, the fact is, it needs to be your common practise now. Here are some definitions of coaching:

“Unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance.  It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” Sir John Whitmore wrote amongst others, ‘Coaching for Performance, Growing People, Performance and Purpose.’ 2002.

“The art of facilitating the performance, learning and development of another.” Myles Downey, who wrote amongst other books, ‘Effective Coaching’ in 2003.

Coaching is different to telling someone what to do. It is asking someone what they feel or think about something, whether something in general, or something very specific; and helping them to see what they can do to improve matters for them, their colleagues, their customers and others. Coaching is getting people to arrive at answers themselves, and when they do so, they are more likely to be engaged and connected to any actions they take, and reflections that follow.

Let me give you a classic example of where coaching can take place in addition to C Suite coaching, and where it can have a huge impact and bring in more revenue to any business. We observe this particular type of interaction all the time when we start to work with an organisation, and it is one we address through one-to-one coaching.

Coaching Example 

A “salesperson” is having a conversation to sell something to a customer. They are asked a question by the customer. It could be as simple as, “Can I have some more money off?” The salesperson will say, “I’ll have to check with my manager.” Firstly, the question of training comes in here. Have they been trained to ask great questions, make a terrific presentation to raise the desire to buy, handle objections and so on?

Let us say they have. But this customer wants to spend a lot. The customer is deemed highly valuable, and for whatever reason, has persuaded the salesperson that they are worth more of a discount to win or retain their business.

The salesperson approaches their manager. Here’s what follows:

Salesperson: “Hi Cath, I’m with Mrs Baker, she wants more off, what we can do?”

Cath the Manager: “Right so what have you offered her?”

Salesperson: “I’m giving her the Manhattan 500 at the price of the Bernsen 300. So, she’s already saving £450.”

Cath: “Okay, so make that clear to her and give her another maximum of £100 off, start with £50, alright, good luck,…”

It may not be quite as weak as that, but I’m sure you get the gist!

If I now ask you the reader, to write down all the things you would want to address as their manager you would write down a long list.

1.  What happened in the questioning phase?

2.  What doesn’t Mrs Baker value?

3.  Why the Manhattan 500?

4.  And how do you come up with Bernsen 300 price?

5.  What don’t you think is good value in your recommendation?

6.  What did they say when you said you’d call your manager?

7.  What tells you Mrs Baker is going to be a good returning customer?

I could go on. I’m sure you’ve thought of many other points to address.

My next question to you is this. What is the single biggest thing you want to address with this salesperson, if you had to only deal with one thing?

Would you choose their attitude, energy, lack of belief, reliance on deferring to their manager, in fact you would coach them on this very topic, and it could be right now?

Salesperson: “Hi Cath, I’m with Mrs Baker, she wants more money off, so I’m ringing you to see what we can offer her”

Cath: “What can I say to help you?”

Salesperson: “Well, I don’t have the authority to take more money off.”

Cath: “You feel you have less authority than I do?”

Salesperson: “Well with this customer in this instance, yeah.”

Cath: “What does the customer know about me and my ‘authority’?”

Salesperson: “I don’t get you?”

Cath: “Does Mrs Baker know that she’ll get more money off by you calling me?!”

Salesperson: “No.”

Cath: “How do you think she feels about what you have recommended?”

Salesperson: “She loves it, she just wants more money off.”

Cath makes noises, “Hmmm, right, aha…”

Salesperson: “Yeah – (more silence from Cath). But she doesn’t know she’s going to get more money off.”

Cath: “Oh really?”

Salesperson: “Yes she didn’t look sure it would happen, she looked hopeful.”

Cath: “Hopeful?”

Salesperson: “Yes, she didn’t look like she was certain she’d get more money off.”

Cath: “Can I tell you something about you and these last few minutes.”

Salesperson: “Sure.”

Cath: “I can hear you thinking, and I don’t think you need any answer from me, I’ve never met Mrs Baker, you know what to do don’t you?”

Salesperson: “I do.”

Cath: “Great, see you tomorrow!”

End scene

Cath could make it clear when she next speaks to them, that the salesperson owns the decisions and no longer needs to defer. It could be a training issue, but more than likely it’s a coaching one.

Can you imagine the increase in turnover and profitability if thousands of firms could have these kinds of coaching conversations taking place?

Bob, Ann and I and many of our team have trained as coaches. Not all coaches are trained.  So, anyone can call themselves a life or business coach and start practising and therefore the quality of coaches and their experience can vary. Your development as a coach doesn’t stop when you complete your course. There is a growing canon of books, guides, and resources to read and your own writing to do too.

Most of all you must practise coaching. To grasp the theory is months, to become a great coach is years of refining your ability. At Reality Training we all use our own models that we have developed during our training as practitioner coaches and continue to practise.

Coaching is another clear way for you to drive your business, and in uncertain under confident times, it is a great way to re-gain certainty and grow confidence. An old friend introduced me to the concept that, ‘the only person whose behaviour you can change is your own’, I encourage you to look at how you, your leaders and managers can change their approach to supporting your people through coaching.

This is taken from The Perfect Storm, 30 Ways to Drive Your Business, read by Jo Bourne and Jeremy Blake on Audible https://tinyurl.com/yyobsqth

Ask Yourself:

What could I achieve with coaching?