Coaching Moment: Grow a Network Within Your Portfolio

A study done by Sales Benchmark Index found that sellers are 4.2 times more likely to activate an account based on a referral or an introduction.

This might seem like common knowledge to you but perhaps the execution of this is lost in the world of digital sales.  But, given that you likely recognize this, it’s time to get this fully activated for all of your sellers.  Remember that the strength of your network tends to fuel your ability to create new opportunities within a portfolio.

In the 20th century, so many sellers guarded their “Rolodex” as their valued relationships. In the 2020s, your social network on platforms like LinkedIn is no different, but now much more transparent and visual. The depth of your social network allows you to conduct deeper research, and allow you to engage more people that can help you in your portfolio, at the right time.

What you’re trying to help your sellers understand is that the more they are connected to their ideal customer profile, the higher the probability that those relationships will provide you value immediately or in the long-term.

In subsequent videos, we’re going to talk about a process called Social Surrounding.  This emphasizes the importance of research, not being single-threaded and having a large footprint in every customer.  One simply can’t afford to hang on to one or a few relationships in an account as a seller.  It’s too dangerous and correlates directly to higher churn.

Fundamentally, your sellers need to understand that for every customer account, every day, they focus a few minutes to grow their relationships.  If they do this, they will dramatically improve their odds of having more conversations with customer stakeholders.

The best way to showcase the importance of networking is to be able to draw relationship maps of existing successful customers.

As an example, work with your customer success team and your marketing team to capture examples of customers that became a customer in large part due to a relationship map to another successful customer.  To take this idea one level further, can you find examples of customer accounts that expanded with you because one contact introduced you to someone else in that organization?

Draw a visual map between two companies, or two departments in the same company, and how relationships created the opportunity.

Finally, led by example.  As a sales leader, are you growing your footprint and network with people that can you help you drive impact?

Here is a 4-Step process to Coaching towards the right actions and behaviors:

Step 1: Preparation

In advance of the 1-on-1, ask a seller to isolate the key champions, influencers, and decision makers that they have connected and followed in the last week within their portfolio.

Ask them to share a screenshot of their social network, isolating those people.

Having the seller prepare this in advance will emphasize the importance of this action as a daily habit.  You should also stress the importance of being multithreaded in their portfolio accounts.

To make this simple, ask the seller to prepare a list of their ‘Top 5’ accounts and ask them to prepare their social network around those accounts.

Step 2: Decision-Making Framework

The first ‘Inflection Point’ will be a binary option – have they completed this process for their Top 5 accounts or not.

If completed, but you are testing their decision-making process:

1. What specific research did you do on these 5 accounts to isolate all stakeholders in these accounts?
2. How specifically did you decide to connect with these stakeholders in a valuable way?

Look to educate and remind sellers that LinkedIn connections help foster conversations and drive to more touchpoint possibilities.

Step 3: Eureka Moment

Your coaching process here is to sell the critical importance of growing a social network within their portfolio.  Accomplish this with an empirical story that clearly demonstrates that we have won accounts because we have mapped relationships, shared content to those relationships, and referred to those relationships, etc. – but it ALL STARTS with making the social connection.

Reminder, you don’t want to tell them that networking is important. You want to be able to demonstrate this through stories that make a connection between social networks and opportunity.  Retrace their decision-making tree by asking questions like this:

• How do we find key stakeholders in an account?
• How can you interact with that contact repeatedly with value?
• How do we think through the act of connecting with someone professionally?

Step 4: Action

To identify a green flag, you want to see the habit that your seller is growing their social network by one, three, five connections within their portfolio – every single day.

What’s a red flag here? The seller does not understand the correlation between social networking and opportunities, or has not yet made this part of their daily and weekly cadence.

Each week, spot check their key accounts for growth in their social network.  Create a habit to make these social networking questions part of our Decision-Making Framework until this becomes natural for the seller.

A habit starts with one account at a time, and their ability to recognize the importance of extending their social network around that one account.


Coaching Moment: Sellers Sharing Insights in Portfolio

According to Forrester Research, 74% of deals are awarded to the sales professional that is first to provide value and insight.  What does this really mean?  Plant the seeds of inception within your customer. The medium through which insights are generated is content. Content in the 2020s can be in various forms: videos, blogs, podcasts. What’s important is that sellers understand the connection between sharing insights and shaping priorities.  Content is the new currency that shapes priorities.

To prove this for your sellers, you need to demonstrate tangible examples of how you buy, your customers have bought, and content shaped decision-making.

One of the best ways to illustrate this is with something called the content consumption story.  Perhaps consider working with your marketing team if doable.  Imagine knowing what a particular customer account has read before, during and after conversations with them.

The stories you can generate from this are powerful! You can teach sellers that customers learn much outside of the live conversation.  If you are not providing consistent insights, other competitors may do that job for them.

Visualize examples of a content consumption story.  Use three to five customer examples where you can clearly demonstrate influence or attribution of content shaping the customers journey.  Show what/when they consumed, how they consumed, and help develop a story of why they consumed.

Here is a 4-Step process to Coaching towards the right actions and behaviors:


If possible, work with your marketing team to visualize empirical evidence of content consumption stories from your customers. The best way to convince your team that content is the new currency is to be able to empirically prove that buyers are consuming insights pre, during, and post live conversations, and that you can objectively prove content has shaped the sales conversation.

Ask the seller to take screenshots of the insights that they’ve shared with a key account in the last week.  If they haven’t shared insights with a key account in their portfolio last week, then you know they’re not executing on this for the vast majority of the portfolio.

Decision-Making Framework:

Isolate a few ‘Inflection Point’ moments:

• How do you find content?
• What would your customers find interesting?
• How would you share these insights?

Develop a decision-making tree that isolates gaps in knowledge.  This gap might be at the very basic level – how do I find content?

Map their decision-making criteria around sharing a specific piece of content with that customer this week, and how you intended to use that content as a conversation starter.  What you’re trying to evoke from the seller is understanding if they understand why content is valuable, and do they make it a priority in their sales conversations.

Applying Gestalt to your process will now become very objective. Because you’ve done your due diligence in advance of building a content consumption story for 5-10 customers, you can use that as a coaching moment to talk firsthand about an account that has been shaped by their content consumption journey, or through their content consumption that has shaped the deal in a positive way.

Eureka Moment

You want to help connect the dots between content shared with customers, and how customers learn and shape buying decisions.  Leverage a ‘Teach Back’ Method by having the seller retrace their decisions on content, and rethink how customers are consuming content before, during, or after sales conversation.

A green flag means that the seller is consistently finding isolating new content for their portfolio.  Consistency is what you’re looking for. A red flag is when they are not taking a moment to step back, find new content, or about the customer experience.  They also haven’t connected the dots between how a buyer learns and buys, and how content shapes that conversation.


Create a short timeframe for corrective actions.  Ask that the seller is prepared for the next 1-on-1, in which they have prepared a story around content that they can share with their portfolio. Repeat this loop until they understand why they’ve collected the content, and how they’re going to deploy it into their portfolio as a conversation starter.


Coaching Moment: The Buyer-Centric Social Profile

You are the CEO of a market. Your sellers are the CEO of their specific portfolio. World-class CEOs recognize that people buy from people they like and they trust. People like people, just like themselves. This very simple premise is why your sellers need to build a buyer-centric social profile.


W.I.L.L. – What does Ideal Look Like? The 10-minute Coaching 1-on-1

What does Ideal Look Like? (W.I.L.L.)

The Key Pillars of Coaching Moments

In every 1-on-1, there are 4 key pillars to your new ‘Coaching Moments’:
1. Preparation
2. Decision-Making Framework
3. Eureka Moment
4. Action

Let’s take a journey through an example of a best-in-class 1-on-1:

Step 1: Preparation

Preparation is often overlooked or ignored, but will become the largest time commitment to your process. Before the meeting, ensure this is complete.

– Send the suggested topic for the meeting to the seller (based on the 4-week schedule in our Basic Principles video).
– Ask the seller if they have a request or needed coaching moment.
– Request the seller to detail their decisions and actions for you to review in advance of the meeting.

Remember, accountability is a 2-way street. You are accountable to communicating what you need to prepare, and the seller clearly understands what they need to provide to you and when.

Your goal is to digest the materials in advance (think Operational Tasks), and develop your Decision-Making Framework independent of the seller. This helps you formulate your appropriate WHAT and HOW questions, and prepare your Gestalt coaching moment should/if you see ‘Red Flags’ in their structured thinking.

Ultimately, you are what you tolerate. Top leaders will not allow the 1-on-1 meeting to run if the seller is not prepared in advance. If someone isn’t prepared, sometimes the best course of action is to end the meeting.

The seller must be prepared to present their thinking and defend their Decision-Making Framework during the meeting.

Step 2: Leverage the Decision-Making Framework

After you’ve prepared and done your due diligence, it’s now time to use your Decision-Making Framework. Why? Because it’s the best way to level up the skills of sellers’ and create future leaders.

Begin the meeting by outlining the agenda. Here are 3 battle-tested concepts to include in the agenda that will increase gestalt, decision making, and eureka moments!

1. What is the inflection point that we’ll begin to analyze?
2. What was your Decision-Making criteria?
3. After we review together, how would you evaluate your decision-making process? And what (if anything) would you have done differently.

Role Play Example: Prioritizing the Nike account

You: I reviewed your details on the Nike account. Thank you for sending everything in advance. What I would like to better understand is your decision to focus most of your energy this month on growing their workloads. Why don’t you draw out your decision-making tree for me so we can collaborate on it.

SELLER: I noticed two compelling triggers and signals: A. Their IT team was consuming some of our new insights last week. B. I then noticed that they hired a new CISO from Adidas last month.

You: What specifically about these compelling triggers and signals makes you believe you can grow the account?

SELLER: I think they might be interested in Cloud Migration for their new wearables division on market insights, and their new CISO came from Adidas that shifted to the cloud 18 months ago according to our data.

You: What insights about that CISO have you uncovered that will help you shape your conversation? And how is his experience with AWS going to adversely slow down/kill a deal?

SELLER: Experience with AWS? Really?

You: Let’s pause right here.

Time to Implement Gestalt & Coach Through Stories

It’s now time to execute gestalt. Leaders educate through stories that are situational and provide empirical evidence of reframing a sellers’ decision-making process.

Role Play Example:

SELLER: Experience with our competitor? Really?

You: 3 years ago, I had decided to target Vodafone using the exact same logic. There was a new CIO, the telecom industry was shifting from 4G to 5G, and it appeared the stars were aligning in my favor. I initially reached out to the CIO who pushed me down to the Director of IT Infrastructure who really liked our ideas. That director formed a committee to review, we had cross-functional meetings, and they scoped expanding workloads. The new CIO got word of our project, but what we didn’t know is that he spoke at an AWS conference the year before, and had experience with their solution when he worked at Tesco. He called his old colleagues at AWS and sidestepped our workload project. The problem is that this deal took 18 months to materialize, a huge amount of internal resources, and created a large churn gap in my portfolio.

Step 3: Help Spark the Eureka Moment

This is your value creation moment. Allow the seller to retrace their decisions using structured thinking, allowing the decision-making tree to be a visual aid. This “Teach Back Method” is a powerful model to accelerate their Eureka Moment. If your Sellers can teach back an improved decision-making plan, they are now empowered to retain those skills for the future.

Example questions:


– How will you gather competitive intelligence on Nike or any of your key accounts in the future?
– What is your action plan with Nike to avoid similar mistakes?
– Knowing what you know now, HOW would you execute your Decision-Making Framework again?

Step 4: Time to Take Action

Finally, this is where both you and the seller assess the following:

a. Are your actions a “Green Flag”? If so, stay the course;
b. Or a “Red Flag”? If so, adjust your course of action.

If there is a “Red Flag”, introduce Resource Allocation (your 3rd core role & responsibility). Discuss the people, process and/or technology internally or externally that can help adjust the course.

Then document an accountability plan for next steps:
a. What are both parties’ next steps?
b. When are they due?
c. What are the clear expectations and the expected results by that due date?

Executing this feedback loop 52 times a year will highly influence strong sales habits and drive towards your sales objectives.