We at Visualize spend a lot of time working with individual contributors who have one major concern as it pertains to building a sustainable ‘practice.’ How do I improve every day and make my way towards becoming unconsciously competent? To translate, how do I build incremental improvements that will, over time, become part of my DNA.
I like to borrow from what the CEO of an airline once said – “I can’t improve any one thing by 1000%, but I can improve a thousand things by 1%.” We need to improve what we do over time.
And this brings us to the importance of coaching. It’s one of those things that when asked what a great coach looks like, we often respond with, “I’ll know that person when I see them.”
One of the ways in which a manager can become a great coach/leader is by their conscious actions, especially around Deal/Opportunity Reviews. I have seen too many instances where it is almost “review by firing squad” – what is the size, what is the expected close date, and when will it really come in? Next!
A true coach is one who guides the conversation with deeper questions and, in ValueSelling terms, wraps those around 1) what information we need to ensure that a deal is in good shape and 2) what actions are we going to take to close the gaps that exist (because there are always gaps). It comes down to what do we know, what do we not know… and, if done in an open, transparent way, allows for answers such as “I don’t know” to be totally acceptable as we aim for complete transparency.
By leading the discussion though the following basics we can ‘assess, agree and act’ on what needs to be done:
- Based upon the senior-most individual we are dealing with, what is it that they have to achieve to contribute to the Business Outcomes (Business Issue),
- Do we understand the myriad problems that stand in the way, and are there problems that we can uniquely solve, ones our competitors cannot (Problems),
- What is the impact to the business and the individual (Value)
- Who is involved in the decision (Power)
- What steps do they need to see to be convinced that we are the right options (Plan)
By using this proven, repeatable framework we build a consistent feedback mechanism that becomes second nature and almost a “Distant Early Warning” signal. One we can use to improve qualification skills, forecast accuracy, and ensure our long term development.