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January 10, 2010

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Riding Shotgun = Sales Coaching

I'm writing this post from my Blackberry while riding shot gun; my 17 year old daughter, Sophia, behind the wheel earning hours so that she can take the test to join the ranks of the privileged.
 
Many of you have already had the same thought as I have; "shouldn't he be paying attention?"
 
If you have gone through this process with a teenager, you know the answer is clearly 'no'. I'm learning as the father of a 17-year-old; to give space, observe, and only take action to avoid potential tragedy; and I’m not just referring to the driving.
 
Come to think of it, this challenge is similar to coaching fledgling sales professionals; when you have been doing something for so long that its second nature, it’s hard to not comment on every small infraction.

Today I am trying to take my own medicine. Prior to this drive, I asked my daughter to:

  1. Pick a clear destination,
  2. Understand the directions,
  3. Review the various roads which we will travel, and,
  4. If she has questions about challenges we may find along the way; to make sure that we discuss ahead of time.
But once on the road, she owns the deal.
 
So here we are barreling down I-95 South. Sure, there have been a few hiccups, yes, I would rather her not actually turn the car into oncoming traffic, yes, it would have been nice to give the poor old man out walking his dog a few more inches, or possibly things may improve when she understands the that “Yield” does not mean “stop completely”...
 
But that is why I sit here, texting this blog; peripheral vision in overdrive, heart rate pegged, and palms so sweaty I can barely type.
 
I am doing my best to promote a healthy learning environment, without saying it, letting her know that I have confidence in her, to not over coach, so that ironically she can relax.
 
Will I point out later that “Speed Pass Lane” is not for literal interpretation? Of course I will. But I will do that at the right time, not in the middle of “the deal”, not when she needs me most.

Like my daughter, the budding sales pro needs similar guidance:

  1. To explain the value of establishing a clear destination,
  2. Assistance in building a roadmap to keep them focused,
  3. The teaching of required sales skills, and most importantly,
  4. The leadership to build the confidence required to drive revenue in these toughest of times.

When sales coaching, remember to ride shotgun, not drive.

-- Tom Scontras, VP Sales & Marketing

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