A Sales Transformation from Loser to Leader



I am going to share with you a useful story about a huge breakthrough in sales effectiveness. My friend told me this story at a critical time in my career. First, some background on how I heard it and why its lessons are so powerful.

I returned to executive coaching full time in 1995 and put my coaching materials on the World Wide Web using CompuServe’s pioneering OurWorld service. My email newsletter was soon being read around the world. I soon received an email from an important coach in South Africa, Pat Grove, who became a valued friend and mentor.

Pat told me that he was in San Francisco in the early 1970s helping to invent coaching at the same time as Werner Erhard (EST), John Hanley (Lifespring), Fernando Flores (Action Technologies), and others. Pat developed and delivered his own training programs in South Africa and Israel for forty years, until his death in January of 2012. I never participated in his group training but I did get tremendous value from our emails and Skype conversations. I am sad that he is gone.

Pat mentioned once that being an effective coach is only possible if one is effective in sales. Simply put, if no one accepts your coaching you are not a coach. Pat, like me, was not a “natural salesman.” We also began our careers with traditional business training. He started as a bank accountant and my first paying job was with a “Big 8” accounting firm. Frustrated and bored, we each decided to try sales and we each failed. The story of my first breakthrough in sales effectiveness is told elsewhere on this blog. Here is Pat’s story, that he shared with me by email in 1996. Pat wrote quickly and informally so I present an edited version here. [My comments are in square brackets.]



No Big Deal

by Pat Grove

I gave up wanting to prove anything and just got the job done.

I chose to be a service agent…

The most important thing I learned was not to sell benefits but to enroll people into taking action on their dreams.

Selling Encyclopedias was at first for me a way to prove to myself, and others, that I was OK. Firstly, my background and experiences and lying about myself to others and to myself was catching up with me. [Pat used the word “lying” in a particular way here. He refers to the pretensions so common in our culture of pretending to “have it all together,” hoping people will think we are more competent and comfortable than we truly feel. This is all an “act” to prevent people from seeing us as we see ourselves.]  So I found a system that had the potential to make a lot of money compared to (more…)

Are Extroverts or Introverts Better Leaders?

Click here for the original article at WhartonWhat personality type is more likely to succeed in a leadership position? If you go by popular culture — television, movies, and books written by hero CEOs — you might think extroverts are natural leaders. Research summarized in an excellent article published by Wharton suggests a more nuanced answer.

Employees who are proactive and eager to have their ideas considered will be more productive with an introverted leader, who has the humility and patience to accept employee feedback. Extroverted leaders seem able to get more from passive, less group-oriented employees. This may explain part of a common business mistake, promoting a top salesperson into management. The extroversion that made the salesperson so successful may make her an inappropriate leader of other extroverts.

As a leader, know thyself and select followers that complement your style. As a business executive, consider the personalities of the people to be led when selecting their supervisor. If you already have an extrovert in charge of a group of proactive employees consider some executive coaching to help the extrovert become a better listener and more receptive to the ideas of others. If you have an introvert in charge of a department full of passive people you may need to find some other ways to motivate them to exert themselves and bring useful new ideas forward.