Your Sales Culture Is Killing You – Part 1 (Detach from the Outcome)

Become a better sales coach and sales manager today.

What prevents you from selling more and co-creating new possibilities for your customers and direct reports? What’s the leading cause of frustration and emotional reactions which also erodes trust, gets in the way of asking better questions and prevents you from being more curious? If you want to boost your sales volume and develop champions, it all starts with how you think.

8-Steps to Creating a Coaching Culture by Keith Rosen
If closing more business and delivering great coaching to your sales team was as easy as following a proven coaching framework and asking strategically positioned, well crafted, open ended questions, then more salespeople and managers would be world class coaches and I wouldn’t have to travel all over the world to deliver my two-day intensive, coach the coach program for thousands of people each year.

If you’re a manager, it doesn’t matter how good of a salesperson you were or are today. It doesn’t matter how much you know about your company, product or service. And it doesn’t matter if you’re an authentic subject matter expert. The ability to become a best-in-class coach has everything to do with how adept you are at detaching from the outcome during every conversation. That means suspending your agenda, judgement and your need to control every outcome. And this same truth applies to salespeople as well.

I know. It sounds easy, right?

If my sarcasm hasn’t fully translated, then let me be clear. This is probably the most difficult thing for a manager to do well and do consistently, especially during challenging times, or when it’s the end of the quarter and you’re 20% down from reaching your sales targets.

Victim of a Result Driven Culture

The ability to park your agenda and detach from the outcome and your personal expectations during a conversation with your direct reports, peers, boss, even your customers, is certainly one of the most challenging parts of selling as well as coaching; especially for managers.

For most number focused, KPI and metric driven people who are on a quest to hit their business objectives and sales targets every month and every quarter, it’s difficult in a conversation with a customer or a direct report to take a step back, surrender your agenda and expectation in the conversation, listen deeply, be patient and ask questions to assess what is really going on, rather than assume the facts. However, it is possible to achieve this simply by changing your thinking around what it means to detach from the outcome.

Detaching from the outcome sounds virtually impossible to do and for good reason. “Are you telling me to forget about my goals and business objectives? How can you detach from your own outcome, goals and expectations during a conversation when there’s so much at stake? How is this even possible when there’s a direct correlation between your team’s performance and the manager’s success?”

After all, for most managers, their career, compensation and how their performance is evaluated is based upon how well their team performs. And for salespeople, their income and tenure is also based on the results they achieve. It’s simple, right? Either you’re hitting your sales targets or you’re not.

I get this. I even make it a point to share this truth with every manager and salesperson I work with when delivering my management coach training program. “It’s certainly easier for me to coach your direct reports than it is for you to coach them, putting skill set and experience aside. Why? Because, they aren’t my direct reports, I don’t work for your company as a manager and for the most part, my success, tenure, compensation, reputation and career isn’t dependent upon them and their performance.”

This is a component that makes detaching from your own agenda and goals so incredibly difficult for salespeople and managers. However, the better news is, it can be done!

What Are You Attached To?

Let’s make certain we even the playing field around what an attachment actually is. An attachment is simply a way of trying to control the outcome of a conversation or situation. Here are several examples of the attachments people have to a specific outcome during a conversation.

You can be attached to:

  • The need to be right/look good. (Avoiding being wrong/looking bad/hearing no.)
  • The need to be understood or prove your point/ have people agree with you
  • The need to control (your agenda, the outcome)
  • The need to give value (You can be attached to people’s potential.)

When this happens, the conversation becomes a struggle for power and control. Needless to say, this also creates a heightened level of stress.

Here’s a telltale sign when you know you’re pushing your agenda. When you walk away from a conversation feeling frustrated, short-tempered, impatient, drained or exhausted, then there was something you were attached to in the conversation.

The Greater Cost

While no one is arguing that putting your agenda aside to co-create an entirely new possibility or solution is challenging, it’s important to acknowledge the greater cost when attached to your own agenda inside a conversation. When focused solely on pushing your agenda forward, attachments:

  1. Limit the ability for a new or better possibility, solution or outcome to surface. After all, you have your blinders on when you’re solely focused on the outcome you want.
  2. Create a filter in your listening, preventing others from contributing. In essence, you’ve ‘already listened’ or stopped listening to the other person because you’re more focused on driving the result you want in that conversation.
  3. Invalidate the other person by not respecting their point of view. And if you’re not listening to them or respecting their opinion, then why should they listen to you and respect yours?

The byproduct? You erode trust.

But that’s not all you erode. What about the greater cost to you? The quality of your life. After all, if you’re always focused on what’s next, whether you’re pushing to achieve a goal or driving towards an outcome you want during a conversation, then you aren’t focusing on what’s now, the present.

This is where your life happens. And when you fall victim of this toxic thinking, you are no longer fully engaged with others, yourself or your surroundings. Instead, you are disengaged and disconnected from what’s occurring in the moment, missing out on all the seemingly insignificant daily miracles that happen, both at work and at home and stepping over all of the opportunities to contribute and add value to others, especially through coaching.

Since you now have a greater level of awareness around these costly implications when attached to the outcome, then how do you actually detach from the outcome? Over the next several blog posts, I’m going to share with you the essential mind-shifts to adopt in order to do so.

Photo Credit: pinkypills (via shutterstock)