(This is a guest post by Julie Anne Jones. Julie is a thoughtful coach and trainer for direct sellers. She’s also become a good friend. I asked Julie to share some of her best ideas for direct sales pros, and as always, she’s over delivered. Enjoy this week’s guest post! -Lisa)
As a direct sales leader, you’re called upon to be many things to your direct sales team; cheer-leader, motivator, problem-solver, sometimes even shoulder to cry on. It can make you feel like you’re constantly solving the problems of your team. I don’t know about you, but when I was a leader, coming up with solutions for everyone’s problems led to me feeling responsible for their success or failure. And it was just plain exhausting.
Not only that, but managing people and giving them advice about how to solve their problems rarely works. Think about the last time someone offered you advice (even if you asked for it). What was your initial response? If you’re being totally honest with yourself, it was probably the thought (even if you didn’t say it out loud), “Well, that might work for you but it would never work for me.” I call it arguing for your limitations.
If you think about it, offering advice is what you do with your team when you start a sentence with “Here’s what you need to do…” Managers tell people what to do (with limited success). Coaches partner with people to help them find their own solutions (for much greater success).
Once I became a coach, I learned a new way of supporting others that was much more effective (not to mention healthy) for both of us. Coaching skills are the most simple and effective way to support your downline.
Here are my10 simple skills for becoming a coach to your team. These are specific, valuable tips (and traps to avoid) that will take you out of the manager role and into the coach position.
1. Get Centered – Take time to get centered and focused before a call with a member of your team. If you have an appointment scheduled, take a few moments prior to the call and think about the best way in which you can support them.
2. Make it About Them – Make your interaction about the person you’re coaching. Remember, their agenda is paramount. What do they want (not what do you want for them) and where are they stuck?
3. Help Them Define Their “What” – Make sure the person you’re coaching is clear about what they really want. Be specific and ask them questions to “chunk down” their goal. (for example: “I want to make more money” isn’t specific. “I want to earn $1500.00 a month doing two shows a week” is.)
4. Get Them Clear About Their “Why” – Want to know the most important coaching question I ever ask? “Why is that important to you?” Until someone is very clear about their “why,” they can’t move on to how they want to get what they want. And their “why” must be powerful and important to them at a high level (I like using scaling questions for this like, “On a scale of 1-10, 1 being not important and 10 being very important, how important is this to you?”). If it’s not important to them at at least a 7 or 8 level, coaching them further will be difficult.
5. Define a Clear Action Plan – Once you know what they want and why it’s important to them, you can support them in figuring out what they can do to get it. Again, get them to be specific. Saying “I’ll make phone calls” is not specific. Saying “I’ll make three calls a day to former hosts and clients who have expressed an interest” is.
6. Ask how You Can Support Them – Believe it or not, they may need different support from you than you think. By asking them how you can support them, you give them a chance to really think about it. Their answer might surprise both of you.
7. Stay Curious – Curiosity is a coach’s greatest tool. If you’re being curious, you have to ask questions, and that’s exactly what leads the person you’re coaching to their own answers.
8. Ask Powerful Questions – A powerful question is one that is open ended (it can’t be answered with a yes or no). It’s that simple.
9. Stay Out of Judgment – Remember, it’s their business and their agenda. Whether or not you think so, if it’s important to them, it’s important.
10. Hold Them Accountable – I think the main reason my clients are successful is because they know they’re coming to a call every week and they’re paying me to coach them, so they tend to follow through with those items to which they commit. And I ask them, every week, “Did you do what you said you were going to do?” You should too.
By incorporating these simple steps into your one-on-one work with your direct sales team, you’ll begin to notice them taking more responsibility for their own success and keeping the commitments they’re making to themselves.
© 2011 Julie Anne Jones, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Julie Anne Jones is direct sales corporate consultant, keynote speaker, and trainer, and the CEO of Julie Anne Jones, Inc. She is known for her authentic and easy-to-use scripting and business systems and specializes in specific language and tools for success in direct sales. To learn more about Julie Anne and her products and services, and to read her weekly blog posts, visit her at julieannejones.com.
Action Step: Want more of Julie Anne? Check out her upcoming free training call on The Mind Aware Teleseries on March 8. Julie shares her secrets to Coaching Your Host for Maximum Success.