The Sales Coach

July 11, 2014

Does your job involve sales?

In my 25 year career I’ve worked for a number of financial institutions, ranging from a small community credit union to one of the nation’s largest commercial banks, and I’ve held positions that have encompassed all aspects of the sales process, from selling directly to customers to managing, recruiting, and training others to sell.

If there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that selling is an integral part of everyone’s job. I’ve encountered many people who tell me they can’t sell. The fact is, they have probably been selling for years. Remember the interview you went to when you got your job? You were selling yourself to the recruiter or manager. You talked about your skills and explained how those skills provided a benefit to the organization. That’s selling. I bet you even started selling as a child, selling your parents on why you should stay up past your bedtime, eat an extra helping of dessert, or get a special toy for your birthday.

Sell is Not a Four-Letter Word. At first glance, some people think sell is a four-letter word, but it’s really not. There are only three letters in the word; the “L” is repeated. This is a good analogy for why some employees are hesitant to sell; just as sell isn’t really a four-letter word, the act of selling may not be exactly what they think it is. Many think that selling is being pushy and forcing unnecessary products on customers when real, needs-based selling is not about that at all. It’s about offering solutions to solve a customer’s problems. Customers purchase products to fill a need or a want and they are often unsure of what product they need. A salesperson helps guide them to finding a solution.

I have a swimming pool in my back yard. Each year, around mid-May, I open it up in anticipation of Memorial Day weekend. The first year after we moved into the house, the water looked a little murky, and it didn’t clear up right away. I went to the local pool store and explained my situation to the guy behind the counter who diagnosed my problem, suggested a product, and told me how to apply it. The product worked and the pool was ready to use in a few days. Honestly, I went to the store without knowing the problem, only the symptom. My goal wasn’t to purchase chemicals; I just wanted to have clear pool water. The salesman sold me a product, but from my point of view he provided a solution. That’s needs-based selling.

This summer, I am releasing a brand new book, The Sales Coach. It is a story about a woman named Sally who has worked for a long time at a small community bank. The bank has a new CEO who has instituted a sales culture, much to the chagrin of Sally and many of her colleagues. You see, Sally correlates sales with being pushy and forcing customers to buy things they don’t need or want. She doesn’t think she’ll be staying too much longer at her bank.

As part of transitioning to a new sales culture, each branch has been assigned a sales coach to work with the employees. Sally’s coach is a man named Dave Kimba. Through their week together, Dave teaches Sally how to sell the right way, through service, understanding customers’ needs and wants, and building relationships.

The story of The Sales Coach plays out in real life in every type of business, every single day of the year. I’ve met a lot of Sallys over the years. Perhaps you’ve known, managed, or trained a Sally in your day. Maybe you were, or still are, one yourself.

I’m really excited for the release of the book near the end of August.  Visit my page at to sign up for an email alert and discount code when the book is available.



TV an Example of How Poor Leadership Ruins Businesses

February 22, 2014

I recently caught up on the first season of The Profit, a reality-based TV show where billionaire entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis offers to invest in struggling small businesses to help them turn a profit. The show offers high drama among lessons in business. There is a common theme in the first season which mirrors what I often see in business– poor leadership leads to poor performance. Marcus talks about his three Ps (people, process, and products). When things go sour in the show, it always ...

Continue reading...

Hiring the Right Fit

January 19, 2014

Employees are your company’s greatest asset. That is a phrase I use all the time when speaking to managers. One of the biggest concerns I get from managers involves hiring the wrong employee for the job. I believe that most people will make a great employee…. As long as they are hired for the right company. I can get the buy the best cashmere sweater, but if it’s not my size, it won’t fit.  

In Sit Stay Succeed! one of my paws of leadership is to hire the right fit. You wouldn’t br...

Continue reading...

Book Club with Blue

April 10, 2013

Last week, I had the privilege of hosting Tracey Jones and Mr. Blue for my organizations latest incarnation of our Professional Book Club. Our discussion this month was the book True Blue Leadership, which was written by Ms. Jones, with assistance from her dog Mr. Blue. The book offers classic advice on leadership and business success with a unique spin – it was written from the dog’s perspective.

Anyone who owns one knows dogs are pretty observant. I can personally tell you there’s no...

Continue reading...

© 2014 Mike Patterson Partner in Learning, LLC