The Coach's Corner

It’s Easy When Things Are Going Well

September 28th, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Over the years, I’ve learned that it’s easy to talk about and live out your values during the good times, but the real acid test comes during recessions and crises.

Back in the early ’80s, I was a young partner at Plante Moran. The firm had an opportunity and made a very unique confidential investment. In the partner meeting to vote on the investment, it was stated that 10 percent of the profits would be shared with the staff. Well, it turned out to be a fantastic investment that matured and paid out in 1983, which was a deep recession year that significantly impacted the partners’ earnings. I was very curious about whether the plan to share with the staff members would be honored. (Keep in mind that the staff had no idea about this confidential windfall.) To my delight, we (since I was a partner) did share our good fortune with the entire Plante Moran team. I was re-recruited to the firm. Our walk matched our talk.

Why am I telling you this decades-old story? The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged businesses, which have had to make some really tough decisions. Barbara and I are very proud to be associated with our clients, whose actions matched the words on the plaques on their company walls. I can’t share all the heartwarming stories I’ve heard, but I’ll highlight a few.

  • A professional service firm’s competitors almost immediately laid off employees and reduced salaries. Although it was gut-wrenching, the CEO of my client’s firm decided not to make any reductions. Recently I asked, “Now that we’re past the worst of it, how do you feel about your decision?” He responded, “It was the right thing to do!”
  • Another client, whose manufacturing plant could have remained open due to some “essential service” customers, closed his facility because the CEO was very concerned about his workers contracting the virus. But that wasn’t all he did for his team. He continued to pay all salary and hourly workers during the stay-at-home executive order. Really!
  • Finally, the owners of an essential service client decided to provide his $12-13 per-hour workers with a $1,000 bonus. It gets better. The CEO and two other top executives personally handed the bonus checks to their 500 hourly employees working all over Michigan and thanked them for their service to the company, especially during these difficult times.

Every company I’ve ever known says it really values its employees. These three owners proved it, just like Plante Moran did back in 1983.

My question for you would be: Can you substantiate with real evidence that your employees are important to you?

If you have any cool stories about something that occurred during the pandemic, I would love to hear them.

Another Re-Recruiting Story … and Much More

September 14th, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Recently, a client was telling me a story about a staff member who had left his company. He said, “Yeah, now I have a new client.”

When this staff member, a recent college graduate, started with my client’s company five years ago, his wardrobe was seriously lacking (editorial comment: At this point, I had no idea where this was going). My client said the new staff member was very smart and hard-working, but his sloppy appearance detracted from his overall effectiveness. So, one day, my client gave the staff member an envelope and said, “Why don’t you take the afternoon off and go shopping?” Inside the envelope was a list of suggested business clothing and enough cash to purchase the items. Wow, what a great story! But that was only the beginning.

My client told me that, more than 20 years ago, his mentor had given him an envelope with a business apparel shopping list and the necessary cash. My client went on to say he still has lunch with his now-retired mentor, and shared that the long-ago action had such a positive impact on him, he’s paid it forward with a number of junior associates over the course of his career.

The story gets even better. He said, “I now have five clients who were former colleagues, and at some point I helped them all with their wardrobes.”

Wow — what a great story about mentoring, re-recruiting, and new business development all in one.

Sales Management 11.0, part 2

August 24th, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

This blog is a follow-up to my last post, which highlighted the common issues Mike Weinberg, author of Sales Management Simplified, experiences when he works with his clients.

Part Two – Practical Help and a Simple Framework to Get Exceptional Results

  1. The 4 Rs of sales talent management: Put the Right People in the Right Roles, Retain Top Producers, Remediate or Replace Underperformers, and Recruit.
  2. If I confidentially polled your salespeople, would the majority say the leadership of your company is “for” the salespeople or against them?
  3. According to Weinberg, sales managers “invest” (waste) most of their time: They’re slaves to emails, they have a ridiculous number of meetings, they get caught up playing assistant general manager, they focus too much on administrative items and unnecessary reports, and they don’t protect their calendars.
  4. Sales managers’ top three activities should be: 1) Conducting monthly one-on-one meetings with individual salespeople, 2) Leading sales team meetings, and 3) Working alongside (observing, coaching, helping) salespeople when they’re with customers and prospects.
  5. During monthly 20-minute one-on-one meetings: 1) Compare actual sales results with goals, 2) Quickly review the salesperson’s pipeline of potential deals and sales opportunities, 3) Review sales activity going forward, especially in situations where the salesperson fails the first two tests.
  6. Two great sales activity questions to ask: 1) Can you name the new opportunities that are in your pipeline that weren’t here last month? 2) Can you name the existing opportunities that you moved forward in the sales process since last month?
  7. Sales team meeting agenda potential items: 1) Give brief personal updates, 2) Review sales results and highlight outstanding performance, 3) Share stories, 4) Conduct product training, 5) Share best practices, 6) Brainstorm deal strategies, 7) Have an executive or other department guest presentation, 8) Conduct a book or blog review, 9) Work on sales skill coaching/training, 10) Give business plan presentations, 11) Have a brief, controlled bitch session, 12) Share some non-sales-related inspiration, and 13) Talk about takeaways.
  8. Riding along with your salespeople provides an opportunity to observe them in action.
  9. Working in the field presents a priceless opportunity to coach a salesperson before and after sales calls.
  10. Windshield time and mealtime provide a rare opportunity to learn more about your salespeople; this will make you a more effective sales manager.
  11. Getting out of the office provides you with a firsthand look at what’s taking place in the market.
  12. Fieldwork helps you develop important relationships with key customers.
  13. When with your salesperson, be present with your salesperson.
  14. Don’t do your salesperson’s job.
  15. Free up your excellent sales hunters so they can maximize their time hunting.
  16. Most sales managers wait too long to address underperformers.

Hopefully you’ve identified a tip or two that you can incorporate into your business. My suggestion would be to get a copy of Sales Management Simplified and use it like an owner’s manual. Pull it out when you have a specific issue with your sales team, and take advantage of Weinberg’s wisdom on the subject. He obviously has seen it all.

Sales Management 11.0

August 12th, 2020 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

If you’re looking for practical, actionable ideas to help your sales team land new clients/customers, I would highly recommend Sales Management Simplified by Mike Weinberg. On a scale of 1 to 10, this book is an 11. To be clear, this is about “new” clients/customers, not cross-serving existing relationships. I found Weinberg’s stories to be very relevant, and he describes situations I frequently observe with my clients. He divides his book into two sections: Part One – Blunt Truth from the Front Lines, and Part Two – Practical Help and a Simple Framework to Get Exceptional Results. In this post, I’ll present Part One. The blog could be used as a checklist for you or your sales manager.

Part One – Blunt Truth

  1. Today, sales managers are often distracted by trying to appease their overly involved private equity group (PEG) owners. (Editorial comment: The CEOs and sales managers of my PEG-owned clients spend endless hours estimating and re-estimating the projected annual EBITDA.)
  2. Playing CRM “desk jockey” doesn’t equate to sales leadership. (Editorial comment: I had a CEO client whose parent company required my client to have the general ledger agree/match the records. I’m not kidding!)
  3. Top sales producers tend to exhibit a characteristic Weinberg would describe as being selfishly productive. (Editorial comment: This is a tricky one, but the point is the best “hunters” know how to spend their time.)
  4. The player-coach sales manager role can create mistrust and bad feelings. If a small company can’t afford a full-time sales manager, Weinberg recommends that the owner, president, or another key senior executive serve as a part-time sales manager.
  5. If there’s anything guaranteed to deflate the heart of a salesperson, it’s when the sales manager steals the glory and limelight. Often, the sales manager’s competitive nature and strong desire to solve all problems gets in the way of doing their primary job: leading the sales team.
  6. Hunting for new business involves risk, conflict, and rejection. Think carefully before putting account managers, sales support, or sales engineers in new business development sales roles. (Editorial comment: Based on my observations of hundreds of companies, most sales professionals are not hunters, but many of them are in hunter roles.)
  7. The leader who is constantly preaching about holding people accountable for results and doesn’t follow through does more damage than if he hadn’t said anything in the first place. Sales. Is. About. Results. Period. Salespeople aren’t paid to do work, or to be busy. Their job is to drive revenue — specifically, new revenue.
  8. Weinberg would argue strenuously that keeping your lowest sales producers around does cost you, even if you’re not shelling out commission dollars.
  9. In his work providing new business development advice to companies, Weinberg observes many counterproductive sales compensation plans. He would also say there’s nowhere near enough difference between what the very top and the very bottom performers earn.
  10. Weinberg says other team members tend to be more jealous or unappreciative of those in sales than in other roles. (Editorial comment: I’ve observed where hunters are expected to complete too much paperwork. Often, they don’t have the time or the aptitude, which creates tension with the operations, service, and accounting departments.)
  11. Sales managers are working less in the field and not developing their team. The best mentoring happens out in the field, where they join their salesperson on trips to see the prospective client/customer. They can coach and prepare them before the sales call and, following the meeting, they can discuss what went well and where they could improve. (Editorial comment: I can still remember sitting in my mentor, Ken Kunkel’s, car before and after sales calls. He would always ask me what I thought. Then he would ask me if I noticed the prospect’s reactions to certain comments. He would explain why he went in a particular direction after the client had provided some facts.)
  12. Poor salespeople talk too much and listen way too little. Discover the customer’s real issues before making a presentation — always. Poor salespeople give off the vibe that they’re there to “pitch at” the prospect.


I’ll end Part One there. On pages 100-101, Weinberg summarizes 21 common causes for sales teams’ underperformance. Hopefully I hit a hot button or two. In the next post, I’ll summarize Part Two, which offers some practical advice for the issues identified above.


July 27th, 2020 // Tom Doescher // 1 Comment

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

I’m stepping way out of my area of expertise, but one of the more common issues I observe is lack of forgiveness. I’ve found a really simple, practical summary of forgiveness and how to deal with it from a Mayo Clinic article entitled “Forgiveness: Letting go of grudges and bitterness.” The following are excerpts from the article, without any editorial comments:

Who hasn’t been hurt by the actions or words of another? Perhaps a parent constantly criticized you growing up, a colleague sabotaged a project or your partner had an affair. 

These wounds can leave you with lasting feelings of anger and bitterness — even vengeance.

But if you don’t practice forgiveness, you might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Consider how forgiveness can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

What are the benefits of forgiving someone?

Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for improved health and peace of mind. Forgiveness can lead to:

  • Healthier relationships
  • Improved mental health
  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • A stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health
  • Improved self-esteem

Why is it so easy to hold a grudge?

Being hurt by someone, particularly someone you love and trust, can cause anger, sadness and confusion. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.

What are the effects of holding a grudge?

If you’re unforgiving, you might:

  • Bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience
  • Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present
  • Become depressed or anxious
  • Feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs
  • Lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others

How do I reach a state of forgiveness?

Forgiveness is a commitment to a personalized process of change. To move from suffering to forgiveness, you might:

  • Recognize the value of forgiveness and how it can improve your life
  • Identify what needs healing and who needs to be forgiven and for what
  • Consider joining a support group or seeing a counselor
  • Acknowledge your emotions about the harm done to you and how they affect your behavior, and work to release them
  • Choose to forgive the person who’s offended you
  • Move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life

Does forgiveness guarantee reconciliation?

If the hurtful event involved someone whose relationship you otherwise value, forgiveness can lead to reconciliation. This isn’t always the case, however.

Reconciliation might be impossible if the offender has died or is unwilling to communicate with you. In other cases, reconciliation might not be appropriate. Still, forgiveness is possible — even if reconciliation isn’t.

What if the person I’m forgiving doesn’t change?

Getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words isn’t the point of forgiveness. Think of forgiveness more about how it can change your life — by bringing you peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing. Forgiveness can take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life.

What if I’m the one who needs forgiveness?

The first step is to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you’ve done and how they have affected others. Avoid judging yourself too harshly.

If you’re truly sorry for something you’ve said or done, consider admitting it to those you’ve harmed. Speak of your sincere sorrow or regret, and ask for forgiveness — without making excuses.

Remember, however, you can’t force someone to forgive you. Others need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever happens, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.

The Advisor’s Corner

Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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