Archive for category Coaching

May ‘La Force’ Be With You

Willpower + Commitment + Self Trust = Faith in Yourself

Slightly revised extract from Defrag your Soul

Hu-man did not invent the wheel, the steam engine, the aeroplane or the nuclear bomb without the capacity to imagine each invention in the first place – along with willpower, commitment and trust in its own ability to create such inventions. The same holds true for the future you seek for yourself.

11 StrengthTo invoke such ‘magic’ you need to perceive your ‘image-in-ions’ as highly desirable and have faith in yourself. You may find you need that faith in yourself for many other reasons:

The road can be long and hard.

 I found thousands of ways how not to make a light bulb.

I only needed one way to make it work.

(Paraphrased from) Thomas Edison

You can meet many setbacks and stumbling blocks. Being a Leo, I’ve found affairs of the heart to be the biggest area of learning. The area, more than anywhere else, where in the past I have disowned facets about myself. Such setbacks and heartaches required a vast amount of patience with myself as well.

You may be ridiculed, ignored and isolated.

 All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Arthur Schopenhauer

Revolutionaries: Albert Einstein, Mahatma Gandhi, Oscar Wilde and Pink Floyd were all ridiculed either by their peers or the media before the world accepted the beauty and wisdom of their works.

When truth attempts to usurp not-truth, those protectors of not-truth in power often do all they can to suppress it; without bringing it or the truth tellers to the public’s attention.

Although I am a typical loner in my daily life, my awareness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty and justice has prevented me from feelings of isolation.

Albert Einstein

In my early years when I first got into spirituality, I was prone to be outwardly enthusiastic about my journey within. Most of the people around me were not into ‘it’ at all.

When, for instance at a wine party, I started spouting off about “shining light into my inner darkness”, I would get different types of response.  The minority would show interest but the silent majority would remain quiet and walk away to join another group who talked about ‘normal’ things. Some who objected strongly to what I was saying would let me know of their views in no uncertain terms. Others would ridicule me face to face or behind my back. It is often easier to ridicule something than to face it; especially when that something invokes fear in you.

There’s a paradox too. If I’m attracting ridicule, is it because I fear it? Probably yes. In the meantime, I do my best to avoid responding to ridicule with ridicule or any other animalistic response. Sometimes I fail.

You may choose to isolate or distance yourself.

I go to the occasional reunion where others see changes in me. I no longer take much interest in ‘normal’ day-to-day small talk, like who is going to win ‘the current Saturday night TV contest’ or get thrown out of some ‘reality’ show. Many of my interests have changed and, perhaps more significantly, my perspective has changed.

For example, I feel distanced when people complain about being the victims of an economic recession that we have collectively created. At the same time, I ask myself, “Why have I attracted this conversation? I wonder where I am not being accountable for what I receive in life; whom or what am I blaming?”

I do not consider myself superior in any way and do my best not to come across as an evangelist. It’s that I’ve moved on. If people ask my opinion about the latest TV game show, I probably don’t have one. If we’re discussing global events, I speak my views.

I prefer to distance myself from day-to-day chatter or ‘complaining about the system’ – both of which I might have engaged in once upon a time.

I still ‘rabbit on’ a lot about two of my passions though: football and music (probably more than I do about spirituality J) and, undoubtedly, I distance a few people from myself in the process as well.

You may be opposed violently.

When all other attempts at their suppression fail, truth tellers face their sternest test; to stand firm and risk physical harm from those who stand to fall by truth. I could cite religious, political and civil-rights leaders, pacifists and innocent people – all whom have been attacked, beaten and some murdered ignominiously to prevent truth from being revealed to, or sustained in, the world.

What others do not do to you, you may do to yourself.

Without willpower, you limit the depth of your learning; you only go so far and you only get so much in return. When you commit yourself 100% to a project, that’s what you can receive in return, 100%. On the other hand, if you commit less than 100%, you get at best what you put into it and sometimes you get nothing. Ask any seasoned salesperson.


Act as if you make a difference. Act as if you count. Act as if and you will…

Notice the focus is on your journey, more than the outcome.

From Warrior to Magician

By Paul C Burr

Toward the flower in full bloom,

Full Truth in the noonday sun.

Devoid of ego, it casts no shadow.

With no nooks and crannies to hold darkness,

All it can now do is give of itself.

Unafraid of being cut down (crucified) by those, in power, who fear Truth.


The Warrior stands bereft of armour, sword and shield,

Secure in what they know is Truth.

No words of explanation required.

No fear to control or manage.

The darkness embraced.

The fear dissolved.


Armed with only Truth and compassion,

The Warrior thus becomes the Magician.

This is the way of the Tarot.

This is the true definition of White Magic.

Tis called redemption.

Shine on…!
Paul C Burr
Author of Learn to Love and Be Loved in Return, 2012: a twist in the tail and Defrag your Soul

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Tip for the Day: Truth in a Relationship

truthTruth drives out falsity, the mother of lack-of-trust. When trust, the bedrock of a relationship, crumbles you have nothing to build on.

Image sourced from Jeff Beck

Shine on…!
Paul C Burr
Author of Learn to Love and Be Loved in Return, 2012: a twist in the tail and Defrag your Soul
Follow @paulburr

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Self-Coaching Tool about Relationships.

Social web network marketing diagram.

Rather than seeing success as a specific outcome, change your focus to seeing it as a network of  ’10 out of 10′ relationships. When everyone who can stop you achieving success is onside – there is no one and nothing to stop you.

Image sourced from Think Holistic, Act Personal

You cannot achieve success without forging equally successful relationships – starting with the relationship you have with yourself.

Think of a business or personal situation that’s important to you right now.

Who are all the people (include yourself) who can stop you from being successful (i.e. they have the power of veto)?

Give your relationship with each person a score out of 10, where 10 means ‘the relationship with this person is exactly where we both want it to be’.

To get the relationship to a 10, what does each person on the list want from you?

Are you willing to give it? (And what might you want in return?)

If so when?

Go give.

Shine on…!
Paul C Burr
Author of Learn to Love and Be Loved in Return, 2012: a twist in the tail and Defrag your Soul

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A Common Business Issue: Lack of Accountability Is a Symptom. The Problem is Fear

truthvmythWhen we are over-performing, the stage of success is filled with major players and acolytes; all accountable for their right to stand in the blazing footlights. On the other hand, when we underperform; the stage is often deserted apart from the chosen few, caught in the beam of a single spotlight, being asked to account for themselves.

The idea of measuring people to improve ‘accountability’ is also a hierarchical myth. Over-performers apart, it results in form filling to meet the ‘numbers’ and dodge the truth if needed – be it in the private (e.g. sales forecasting) or public (e.g. centralization of schools/hospitals statistics) sectors. A corporate board member of the world’s largest IT company referred this phenomenon to me as “…‘management’s perfumed pig’. What we need instead is truth!”
You, I, we, tick the boxes with answers so that hopefully, in management’s eyes, we aren’t singled out from the crowd. So where is the truth found?

Image courtesy of the Nikki Thomas Network

The journey starts by a commitment to treat successes and setbacks, as opportunities to learn what to repeat and avoid, with equanimity. Secondly, we answer fundamental questions about our behaviour and its effect:

  • What is it we do that aids/abets and what is the effect of this ‘helpful’ behaviour?
  • What is it we do that inhibits/hinders and what is the effect of this ‘unhelpful’ behaviour?
  • In the latter case, what could we do differently and what effect might that have?
  • Overall, what do we do/don’t do; knowingly/unknowingly that creates or somehow contributes to the successes and setbacks of ourselves and others?
  • And even if we were wise to all the answers to the above questions, do we choose the courage to act upon ‘the wisdom from failure’?

Lack of accountability is only the symptom. The problem is fear.

People are fearful of being perceived as failing or incompetent (by themselves as much as others). People thus fear being accountable.
If management were to have only one task, it’s not about measuring, it’s about releasing the fear in their organization and filling the subsequent void created with wisdom and courage.

An organization releases its fear and gets wise one person at a time, each of their own volition.


Shine on…!
Paul C Burr

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Unconscious Attracts…

With so many changes in the world around us, tis vital to focus on that which you feel you can control and influence:- namely yourself and those in your immediate sphere.

Image from Crystalinks

You may not be able to influence the chaos but You can control how You respond to it. Feelings of anger, hurt, guilt and fear move from your conscious to your subconscious and then you project them outwards subliminally.

People see your “armoured shield” not the truth within. People are less attracted to an armoured tank than the beauty of love and truth. As a tank, your influence and effective communication is thus limited, if not futile.

So what is this armour? It manifests itself in the form of guilt, anger, sadness but most of all fear. The four seeds of karma. You cannot hide but you can get lost.

If you inebriate yourself  from your negative feelings, you are in conscious denial. This does not work.

If you embrace your negative feelings, you restrict yourself from releasing them. For example, you may work long hours and completely commit yourself to avoiding failure. No matter how successful you are at avoiding that which you fear, you never release the fear.

Notice, I say “release the fear,” not “defeat it.” It takes courage to defeat fear, but it takes more courage to release it. Warriors defeat fear, alchemists release it. And in doing so they achieve fearlessness – which is not about bravery; it’s about wisdom.

On the far side of fear lies wisdom.

Release the four seeds of karma (guilt, anger, sadness and fear) and you…..
Shine on…!
Paul C Burr

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Words of Wisdom, Literally

“It’s so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then don’t say it.”

Sam Levenson

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Steve Jobs

Image sourced from

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R&D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R&D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”

Steve Jobs

Image sourced from

Shine on…!
Paul C Burr

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Fearless versus “Fearlessness” – the difference between courage and wisdom

Should we ignore, or remain in denial about adverse situations or issues, we learn little if anything at all. The situations fester and pester more and more. We feel more pain or hurt. Should we continue to isolate ourselves from our feelings of hurt about what’s going on, we isolate ourselves from love, joy and fulfillment as well. This might need some explanation.

Image sourced from The Hero Construction Company

We can’t learn if something is wet or not if we don’t know what not-wet, i.e. dry, is. Likewise, we are unable to be selective when we detach ourselves from negative emotions. Should we detach ourselves from sadness, we detach ourselves from not sadness, i.e. joy.

I recall when a relationship, I was in, broke up, not too long ago. I took myself to the pub at night, to inebriate myself from the fear and sadness of spending lonely evenings on my own. It took me 9 months before I readied myself to acknowledge the sadness, fear and start to move on life.

So here’s the curious dichotomy: when we ignore or deny fear, we deny not-fear – i.e. courage.

And it takes courage to deal with inner issues. In fact, all issues are inner issues. (When the relationship ended we both had issues to resolve but they were different issues.She had hers. I had mine. They were both proprietary.) The more courage we demonstrate to ourselves to deal with our inner issues the more we learn about them.

And when we learn more about a subject, we become wiser, we become expert and eventually we become a master. Not only are we a master at what’s going on, we become a master over our fears. We don’t hide from, or deny, them. We manage our fears. We control them. We become warriors. We become heroes. To some people, this ends the journey (“Hail, the all conquering hero!”). It does not. It ends a significant part of the journey and starts the next.

When we acknowledge our fear and gain mastery over it – we start to experience the stillness or void from which we base our actions. We start to realise that the issue, we faced, was attracted by and to our fear. We brought the issue, perhaps unknowingly and albeit unwantedly, on ourselves. The issue brought the fear to the surface so that we can erase that fear and evolve to the good.This is a fundamental rule to the game of life. (It might even be the only rule. I’m still working that one out.)

When the fear is fully out in the open in front of us, noone else,we see through it. We wise up to the habits and patterns inside of us that manifest that fear. We realise that those habits and patterns are only habits and patterns – and nothing more. They are not reality but responses we took on, usually in our early childhood, to adverse situations. And when we see their illusory nature, they disappear and so does the fear.

We begin to realise we had nothing to fear in the first place. At this stage we are not fearless, instead we experience fearlessness. We have transmuted our fearless state of mind  into fearlessness.

The warrior or hero does not ignore or deny, but manages and controls, their fear. The master or magician, through the wisdom from insight, dissolves fear. Magicians are not brave. They have no need to be. They know fear for what it is – a very real-like illusion.

Fearlessness is a symptom of having achieved a spiritual step on our road to enlightenment. Only two types of people experience fearlessness – masters and fools.

When we become a master at one stage of our journey we instantly become a fool (or totally uninitiated) in the next stage. We become both master and fool at the same time.

We experience the two purposes of fearlessness:

  1. It tells us we’ve achieved mastery at one level
  2. It gives us the encouragement to tackle the next stage in our development.

Such is the computer game called “Life” – until we take the last step, of course.
Shine on…!
Paul C Burr

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Fear Attracts Fear – Case Study

I coached an experienced salesperson who had fallen on hard times. Sales were down.
Like all good salespeople, he worked extra hard, and made as many sales calls as he could. He crossed all the t’s and dotted all the i’s in abundant call reports, to demonstrate his commitment and loyalty to his bosses. Alas, all to no avail.

Image from How Stuff Works

Like most of us (I include myself) it was easy to blame the economy………………

I asked what was driving him. Back came the response “Well I’m behind in my numbers and I want to catch up. I don’t want to lose my job!”

I asked a series of questions:

Q: “So fear drives your actions?”
A:“Yeh, I’ve got a wife and kids to support” came the answer.

Q: “To what extent do your friends and colleagues share your fear?”
A:“Quite a few, it’s time like this you find out who your friends are.”

Q: “To what extent do your existing customers share in your fear?”
A: “Yeh, a few have intimated that I’m trying too hard and come across as more pushy than usual. They are a bit apprehensive about me.”

Q: “And what of new customers and prospects?”
A: “Yes again, everybody I meet seems fearful to do anything right now, even when the business case is clear cut.”

So what’s going on here? I’ve coached many people in this predicament. Here’s what I’ve seen, time and again.

What drives us, we attract. Fear attracts fear.

So in the above client’s case, the coaching focused on tools to switch out fear and replace it with what the client wanted instead: “creative confidence”.

Within weeks, despite an ailing economy, the client’s sales figures went from poor, to fair, to good, to very good. He got back on track.
Shine on…!
Paul C Burr
Follow @paulburr

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The Executive’s Challenge: Make Transitions Quickly

I coach high flying, low flying, delinquent (and some just doing ok) executives. All do the best they know how.

When we meet, I often ask the following questions:

• How much of your time do you spend managing this month’s financial numbers – and how much on where you want to be?
• To what extent are you achieving what you set out to achieve? (Test anyone who says “more than 70%”.)
• How fast are your customers’ expectations changing?
• How fast is your competition?

These lead to one question they all have in common…..
How can I make the next transition fast?”

3 Transitions: from Strategic Business Unit Manager to….

Transition 1: Manage Cross Functional Change, to….
Transition 2: Visualise/Lead Change to….
Transition 3: Innovate Change: 1st to market business models, beyond “the edge of the envelope” (eg the next “Google”, Web 4.0)

The Business Unit Manager’s (budding executive) typical, environmental characteristics:
• Known ie tangible
• Current: this month, quarter, year
• Has much historic and comparative data
• And thus considered manageable

Contrast the above list with Transition 3:
• Unknown
• Little or no data. Historic data of limited value.
• Future paced: Next year, 3-5 years, 100 years?
• Abstract, conceptual

So many of the personal strategies the executive used to get to “base camp” will hold her/him back. Indeed, as their positional power grows, should they continue with the same behaviours, they drive everyone nuts. “Counting the beans in the bag: by size, geography, colour (or whatever category dreamed of) does not make more beans”

What happens? (How might coaching be relevant?)

Tis all about Relationships, Relationships, Relationships….

At a Personal Level:

• A change in context; from say, a promotion (or a move into another part of the organisation), the executive finds that the personal strategies that have underpinned their success, in their careers so far, are no longer as effective.
• With each career transition; to forge new relationships in a new context fast (and existing relationships that also change) requires more flexible relationship strategies and mindset.
• It’s also about helping the executive to find out and let go of what needs to be let go of.
• There may be more/too much data to analyse, or no data. In either case there is less time. So it’s about helping the executive to create personal strategies that are effective when faced with the unknown, missing data, even the abstract.
• To summarise, I coach to get the executive to figure out what to do more of, what to do less of, what to do differently.
• It’s also about the commitment and flexible mindset required to step outside the comfort zone that has enabled the success in their career to date – and even more vital in the next level of impact.

At higher Strategic Levels
(any migration along the continuum, from: Business Unit Leader–>Manage Change–>Lead/Visualise Change–>1st to Market Business Models)

• As their network of influence spreads, the executive’s emphasis for influence transcends from personal to strategic. Despite positional authority, the executive has less face to face time “per person” whilst they visualise and lead change, as well as manage issues as they crop up.
• Two things thus become more important.
1. The success of the executive strategy depends upon on the emotional journey (strategic buy-in or resistance) it receives. So it’s about mapping and future pacing strategy, to foresee emotional blocks, leaks, politics and value shifts required, to make it happen. The logic and process for change adapts to the least path of resistance.
2. The success of the executive is a function of their “Strategic Identity” within the extended organisation. To what extent do their seniors, peers, direct and indirect reports put trust in their integrity and capability. And how does this “trust” underpin their “Strategic Identity”. Is the “Strategic Identity” effective within the current and desired corporate cultures espoused?
• Advanced Influencing: Can the executive deploy advanced influencing techniques, by being at their peak in every meeting? “Yes!”
• And beyond? Is there a space where the executive generates strategies to influence people, who at first do not wish to be influenced (because influencing everyone else then becomes relatively easy)? Once again the answer is “Yes!”
• Distinguishing Traits and Characteristics: I spent the last 10 years studying people who deal successfully with senior executives. This work consists of 100’s of interviews and workshops, around the world, for a number of major organisations including IBM and Xerox. The research points to 7 Key Traits or Characteristics. By definition, traits are nurtured (ie coached) not taught.

To conclude….

Should you reflect, you will see that the transitions happen in everyday life too.

1. We run our own lives as a business unit, day to day. We hopefully balance our bank account every month.
2. Every now and then we have some change passed on to us to manage (e.g. a change in tax laws, a pay rise).
3. Sometimes we visualize and lead change (e.g. we get married/divorce).
4. There are other times we may choose to completely reinvent ourselves (e.g. a new career).

So, conceptually, Executive Coaching is not a million miles away from everyday life. What differs is the context, and complexity of dealing with a vast network of people, over whom we have no direct control.

Executive Coaching needs to address our Strategic Identity as well as the Personal. It needs to address the flow of energy we put into our network of influence, and what we take out.
Shine on…!
Paul C Burr

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4 Killer Strategies to Boost your Sales

Killer Strategy #1

Coach Top Performers: increase your top people’s contribution by 30% (and maybe increase your total company sales by >20%)

My research over the last 20 years has found that top performers demonstrate 7 key traits or characteristics (eg curiosity: eager to learn). Top performers love to be coached, to go (not think!) outside of their comfort zones. They yearn to discover what lies above and beyond their limits of success (all-be-they high already).

I see top salespeople, whom I coach, increase their sales run rates by 30%, in a matter of weeks. For those who really trust themselves and commit to the journey, performance goes up several fold.


2 Case Studies:

  1. Account Director (now a Vice President): Responsible for renegotiating a £50M pa contract within 9 months. The client achieved the £50M target within 11 weeks from commencement of the coaching programme.
  2. Regional Manager (now a Senior Vice President): used coaching methodologies to prepare his team for a new business-services sales campaign with an Australian bank. The team won a pilot worth around $100K in the UK. Our client flew to Australia to extend the bid. He then steered the local sales team to win further contracts……“I won the big one (worth £15M!) for the Australian bank I was after….. my life has changed quite a bit (for the better) and 80% due to your help”


Lever your company’s sales revenue. The top 20% of your salespeople probably bring in 80% of your revenue. Measure, if you can, the proportion, they contribute, to your profit line. I have clients who were staggered at the results.

You can now imagine what happens to your bottom line when your top performers raise their game by 30% and more. And, 0rganisational beliefs (about what’s achievable) get smashed. Others follow. But how fast? And can they keep up the pace?

So what about the remaining 80%?

Killer Strategy #2

Raise Every Salesperson’s Results: model and spread your top performers’ traits and behaviours to everyone else

Sales effectiveness is a function of motivation, confidence, competence and curiosity.

Effectiveness = Motivation x Confidence x Competence x Curiosity


E = MC3

(No longer a Theory of Relativity, nor rocket science, get everyone winning!)

So the objective is to raise everyone’s:

  • Motivation: better yourself, seek wisdom, explore below the surface, relate to people and situations, analyse facts, follow process
  • Confidence (as opposed to arrogance) know, execute: when to listen (ask), when to learn (bide time) and when to advocate (articulate)
  • Competence and knowledge in 4 verbs, to: Connect, Inspire, Prove and Proceed
  • Curiosity (to explore below the surface) about: selling, the customer, the customer’s industry, self, technology, your company, the world, and beyond….

This is how top performers come across and do things differently to average performers?

My personal research goes back nigh on 20 years. My studies include cross industry interviews and workshops with hundreds of salespeople, sales managers, directors, consultants and customers around the world.

My purpose here, is not to tell you how to do this. My purpose is to tell you what needs to happen.

Case Study: A pan Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) survey, by a Top 5 Global IT Firm, reveals a boost in sales millions of dollars.

  1. UK, Regional Business Development Manager: “Sales are up because 30% more Account Managers are going out and selling solutions that otherwise wouldn’t have.
  2. Middle East and Africa: Within 6 months of the launch, sales surpass $2.5M, in a region where hitherto, no Account Managers had been selling these solutions proactively.
    • Q: “Score out of 10, how much has the approach contributed to the $2.5M revenue sum?”
    • A: MEA Regional Business Development Manager “Contribution to sales? I’d say more than 8 out of 10.
  3. Scotland: Regional Channel Partner Manager: “I started in May. The subject matter was new to me. I hadn’t been on any courses. I shared your “transfer mechanism” with our Business Partners. They were impressed. It’s now July, I’ve displaced our competitor as Business Partner of Choice and just won the first piece business, worth over $100,000,, that competitors were due to win..”

Killer Strategy #3

Increase the Effectiveness of Sales Leaders: Equip managers to lead others, outside their zones of comfort.

I coach managers (to coach others). Many have already been “trained in coaching”. Yet, they increase their personal productivity measurably (£).


Because, for most, “training” does not engage the manager sufficiently in the emotional and insightful journey to become a great coach:

I have found that “training” gives process.

Training alone doesn’t:

  • Engage the emotional journey of moving into discomfort with a fresh mindset.
  • Shift the mindset from being an expert (i.e. mentoring) to a non-expert (i.e. a co-explorer)
  • Shift the mindset from being directive (eg “you need to do a,b and c!”) to non-directive.
  • Nurture 7 key traits, common to both coach and a top performer.
  • Get managers to realise that every coachee (at some level) mirrors their own imperfections

All the above are essential skills and learnings to coach well.

A study carried out by Olivero, Bane, & Kopeirnan in 1997 demonstrated an 88% increase in management productivity when coaching and training were interwoven as opposed to a 22.4 % increase when managers were placed on a management training programme.

Top 5 Global IT Company: European Sales Management Team, Public Sector, already “trained” as coaches.

“When I do follow the coaching process it works and it fails when I don’t”
“First two sessions were particularly useful. I would not have got through that month without the 2 List System. I am more effective in how I use my time and am more prepared for important meetings. SOS helps me synchronise with people. Using 2nd position has helped enormously. Coaching isn’t an individual session; it takes place over a period of time to get to a solution. It’s made me face some demons.”

“The Coaching Process gets an A* for managing poor performers. “

“It has helped me to explore new ideas and not get hung up if they don’t work. I took away the “Preparing for Key Meetings” from the workshop and used it – it’s brilliant. I understand the coaching tools and need to get myself organised to use them on a regular basis next year.”

“I am more rigorous in the analytical and process quadrants and it’s paid off.”
“I took the material from the workshop and applied it rigorously to coaching (underperformer) X. It’s not there yet but the mountain has moved.”

The managers achieved “Top Team” status aross Europe, in the year following the coaching.

Killer Strategy #4

Lift Under-Achievers out of the Mire: Save them, your managers, and you, a lot of time and possibly grief!

What do you do with an underperformer?

  • Sack them?
  • Leave them alone?
  • Manage as best you can?
  • Invest in them?

Coach them. Why?

Corporate Sales Case Study: a highly rated salesperson was underachieving in her first year on quota. Within two months, from the start of the programme, the salesperson’s going rate of year-end target increased from 20% to 80%. Her results then went from strength to strength.

Quotation…. “I found the programme extremely beneficial: it grew my self-confidence and self-esteem tremendously, and allowed me to go and sell. I have both the ability and I have earned the right to do this. I also treat customers as human beings, realising that the best way to persuade someone to agree with you is to get on well with them. I am much more ruthless about agreeing to tasks outside the scope of my quota – unless it eventually benefits my quota in some way. I do nothing unless it progresses me closer towards meeting my targets. I am better respected amongst my peer group and managers, and I am assured of a successful career with solid progression!
Overall, I recommend this to anyone, so long as they are prepared to accept new ideas and alter their attitudes to certain ways of working.”

Sales Managers lose 26 days (5 weeks!) per year dealing with poor performers, source: “UK Managers Losing Twenty-six Days a Year to Poor Performers”, SHL GROUP plc, Business Series 2005.”

The UK’s “lost management days” figure is lower than the other regions studied apart from one. The UK figure is 7 days more than Sweden.

No coincidence: Sweden invests the most in getting people to competence. Source: “Getting the Edge in the New People Economy”,, Future Foundation and SHL Group plc.

Under-performers, when coached, take an emotional journey (similar to top performers) to step up to the next level. They rid themselves of sometimes deep-rooted, personal, blocks that hold them back. Sometimes, it only requires a simple shift: maybe just a reframe of their perspective. Mostly though, it involves something deeper.

I often find that training doesn’t go anywhere near these deep emotional blocks. Under-performers will not allow it to. They fear the consequences of exposing what holds them back, often unconsciously.

The irreplaceable value of coaching: from research undertaken (Trygve Roos, Mental Coaching 2002) to discover what really causes effective behavioural change. It proved that the most pervasive change happened when learners were trained in various excellent techniques, followed by personal coaching/interventions.

Corporate Sales Case Study: New to sales, and prior to coaching, an erstwhile consultant’s going rate was 40% of his year-end target. Within two months his going rate was 80% and he was looking to overachieve. We focused on sales campaigns to win new business in competitive accounts. He went on to win a contract from one of the campaigns worth about $1.5M, from a client whose spend up until the start of the campaign had been minimal.
Shine on…!
Paul C Burr

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Transmuting your Sales ‘Farmers’ into ‘Hunters’

Since the current economic climate began, organizations have been downsizing, reshaping, restructuring, removing layers of management, centralizing, decentralizing… you name it. As conditions worsened the focus has gone from cutting costs to cash survival (+ cutting costs). I’ve observed that no-one has been harder hit than SME businesses where, even in good times, cashflow has always been a bit of a juggling act.

So we are now fours years on, this very August. Customers and vendors who get on stick through the mire. They’ve shared the pain. What’s next?

A few organizations I deal with are gearing themselves for growth. It would be nice if they could ‘farm’ that growth from existing clients. Maybe they can but they do not want to ignore the opportunities from ‘hunting’ for new clients nor be wholly dependent on the custom of existing ones.

They seek to transform themselves from Sales ‘Farmers’ into ‘Hunters’.

Here are some salient points about their journey.

  • There are 18 benchmarked critical success factors an organization can invest in to become ‘winners’ in hunting for new business (“superbidders” win more than 3 out 4 major bids). More on this later.
  • The F-to-H transition is more of an emotional journey than an intellectual one. It’s about making people motivated, confident and curious as well as competent. This starts by making selling (‘hunting’) as easy as possible.
  • Recent years of restructuring of reporting lines and reshaping of business processes will no-doubt have been for good reason. A key question remains – what changes will customers have noticed in your people:
    – More fire and enthusiasm?
    – Nothing?
    – Or sloping shoulders?
  • Winning over the hearts and minds of (especially remote) people comes down to making their lives easier. Again, for salespeople (who follow the path of least resistance) – it’s about ‘making selling easy’ so that they can hit their sales-targets from hunting as easy as (or easier than) they can from farming.
  • Sales training in Industry, Function and Product areas will provide much of the intellectual content required but will probably have only a limited impact on all but the top 10-15% of your salesforce. Management reinforcement will help further to instill hunting practices. The research I’ve seen in this area points to single figure %age growth in sales from such training/coaching interventions. So I want to talk about 3 things that can take you well into double digit growth.

3 areas to consider should you want to go for double digit growth:

1. Benchmarking – only 4% of companies win more than 3 out of 4 major bids for new business

The largest research programme in the world into winning business (led by Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas, Chairman of Cotoco Ltd []. I declare my hand here. I’m a Non-exec Director.) has involved over 2,500 companies. This large sample size includes companies of widely differing performance in Winning Business. Overall the results are consistent industry to industry – and across sizes of organisations.

Key Points:
• 18 Critical Success Factors (CSFs) to winning major bids

• The top quartile: “Superbidders” win more than 3 out 4 major bids

• “Superbidders” make up less than 4% of the total population

• “Superbidders” only consider themselves to be “very effective” in 8-9 out 18 CSFs. There is plenty of headroom.

• Largest number of organisations in quartile: the median is between 1:2 and 1:3 win ratios.

• Organisations in the median or lower quartile consider themselves to be very effective in only a small number of CSFs.

The top 3 (CSFs) of the 18 differentiators are:

  1. Understanding the value/benefits customers expect to gain from your products/services
  2. Understanding the cost of ownership issues that impact customers’ decisions about your product or service
  3. Establishing the superiority of your products or services over those of competitors

Organisations that spread themselves too thinly don’t catch up with the winners. I find that most organizations (I introduce this benchmark to) are already tackling a broad range of the CSFs. They do not realize that improving the CSFs you are very effective in from say 2-3 to 4-5 will have a huge impact on your win rate. So it’s about knowing the vital few to invest in first.

The benchmark informs you which CSFs to go for, to get the best RoI in winning major bids.

2. E-quipping every salesperson to engage with new C-Level clients the way top performers do – and save on your face to face training costs

This approach to enabling Customer Executive (C-Level) Engagement has been used by global companies like Cisco as well as SMEs for a number of years.

Having asked the right questions and done their research beforehand, we find that top performers engage with C-Level clients far more effectively because they use compelling evidence and messages to:

  1. Underpin the trustworthiness of your company.
  2. Raise your customer executives’ curiosity to investigate the broad range of services that your company can provide
  3. Make it easy for regular (non C-Level) customer contacts to convey, to their own peers and senior management (that your salespeople might not get to meet), the superiority that your company has to offer.

E-quipping (as opposed to the drudgery of e-learning) takes minutes. It provides the opportunity to cut out the high costs of face to face training. This can be a huge expense saving for global companies. It also means less time away from the field for your salespeople.

3. Coaching top sales performers to make the emotional breakthroughs to increase their sales by 30%+

And what about your existing top performers? How do you take them up and beyond their current levels of performance? They are already setting your company’s benchmark for what’s achievable – are they not?

The good news is that top performers are always curious about how to improve themselves. In my experience, good in-house management coaching will improve their performance by no more than say 5-10%. Going beyond (increasing their sales by 20-30% and beyond) requires coaching which (and an experienced coach who) will take them outside their comfort zones. For the journey to 30%+ is filled with emotional blocks: limiting beliefs about themselves, their client relationships and the tasks in hand. If it were purely an intellectual journey (these people are smart) they would be there already. The experienced coach gets them to dissolve these emotional blocks. And when they commit themselves to move beyond, their sales performance escalates.

Shine on…!
Paul C Burr

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