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Sales Leaders – Coaching in your 1-on-1s using the GESTALT Method

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks
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The goal of effective coaching is to help a seller make better decisions by solving problems using structured thinking. We call these ‘Eureka Moments’ that causes future actions to:

– Adjust course – what we call a “Red Flag”
– Stay on course – what we call a “Green Flag”

Adjusted actions that are repeated consistently create habits and form new behaviors. This is your desired outcome. To transfer knowledge that will inspire others to adjust action, you have to change two habits yourself:

1. Don’t mistake working on tasks for your sellers as helping them or your team. It’s counterproductive to value creation and steals time from you in the future. You are the CEO of the market. You’re a builder. Your primary role and responsibility is to teach Sellers to work on their priorities.

2. Telling someone how to do a task or prioritize is also counter productive. It does not transfer knowledge properly, thus does not change actions consistently to become habit forming. You are then stuck with dependents who lean on you to make decisions for them. Instead, we want to manage a team that can learn to come to their own decisions. You can achieve this with Eureka Moments which can be created with inspiration, the right line of questioning, and guidance. These moments plant a seed in your Sellers mind, then root, grow and develop. Remember, your goal as a leader is to get them to make their own decisions.

How do we start to strengthen your ‘Coaching Moments’ in your 1-on-1s?

Step 1: Know what you’ll focus on
In advance of your 1-on-1, isolate an inflection point – a moment in time where you believe the Sellers decision-making requires coaching. From that inflection point, you map decisions into a ‘Decision-Making Framework’.

Step 2: Use the ‘Decision-making Framework’
A Decision-Making Framework is visualized as forks in a road. The seller came to a stage in their account where a decision had to be made, did they choose left or right, and what was their logic? These decision-making trees are called ‘Structured Thinking’. Visualizing a decision-making tree is extremely valuable, so that you and your seller can pin-point inflection points along their journey.
To properly capture how decisions are made, and to visualize inflection points, focus on WHAT or HOW based questions. What and How-based questions require detailed responses, not ‘Yes and No’.

Role Play Example:
Here is an example of a type of conversation you can have. Assume that your seller decides to prioritize working heavily on a particular customer.

You: What was your decision-making process around focusing on this customer?

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 a competitor 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 division on market insights, and their new CISO came from a competitor that shifted to the cloud 18 months ago according to our data.

This would be a good conversation to have. You didn’t give them the answer but instead gave them tools and know how to empower their decision making.

Step 3: Spark a Eureka Moment with Gestalt
The concept of Gestalt is leveraged by thousands of best-in-class sales leaders daily. The process is the bedrock to transferring knowledge from one leader to another, with the goal of creating Eureka Moments.

Hold back on your first instinct to tell your seller where they went wrong and what to do next. This might feel like the right thing to do today, but will hinder growth and steal from their future. Instead, implement Gestalt – the process of telling true stories that you or your team have experienced that lead a seller to reframe their decision-making process.

Expanding our Role Play Example:

SELLER: Does the CISO having experience with AWS matter in this customer?

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.

You: 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?

As a leader, you can implement Gestalt by focusing on the following:

– Focus questions on specific inflection points, not general sales cycle stages or processes.
– Invoke deeper analysis of their structured thinking using What and How-based questions.

As we end this video, remember the key moment: true inspirational Eureka moments come when your seller learns through self-realization.

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