Join Pete Evans as he speaks to SalesStar Scandinavia Practice Partner Lars Alberyd.
Speaking about how CEOs tend to be wary of sales coaching and looking into why sales leaders don’t follow change. Lars talks about the impact of sales coaching and looks back to his younger self when discussing sales development.
About our Guest
Lars Alberyd has over 20 years of sales, sales management, and sales leadership experience, Lars has spent ten years as a sales transformation consultant – mainly in the automotive industry and has an entrepreneurial background as an owner and co-owner of small consulting firms.
Lars says: I love the simple idea of challenging others and myself to see if it’s possible to reach desired outcomes. It often starts with a few words like, – ”What if we tried it this way…
If you want to grow, you need to transform. However, what a lot of professionals have experienced is that change work can be both hard and complicated. I like to help and support our clients change initiatives because I love exploring the human mechanics that are in play and the results that often come out of it. I believe that coaching is a great approach for making change happen.
About our Host
Pete Evans has over 20 years sales experience with a successful corporate sales career. If you’re involved in B2B selling, cold calling, sales recruitment, sales training, sales coaching, sales transformation or have a desire to grow your business then this podcast is for you.
Pete is currently MD and Practice Partner of SalesStar UK. SalesStar combines sales training with sales coaching to deliver long term results in line with your sales strategy so you can smash your targets and grow top line revenue. SalesStar works with growth minded CEOs and sales leaders who are frustrated with their sales results and are looking for a proven system to grow sales.
Oliver Eaton | Pete Evans | Lars Alberyd
Welcome to the Creating SalesStars Podcast. Each week, our host, Pete Evans, will be joined by some of the big and upcoming names within the sales industry. This is brought to you by SalesStar UK.
Right, so good morning. Good morning, everybody. Welcome to creating SalesStars. This morning, I’m delighted to welcome Lars Alberyd, who is the SalesStar partner of Scandinavia. Lars has over 20 years of sales, sales management and sales leadership experience. He previously spent 10 years as a sales transformation consultant, mainly in the automotive industry. He has an entrepreneurial, entrepreneurial background as an owner and co-owner of small, conservative small consulting firms. Lars loves the simple idea of challenging others and himself to see if it’s possible to reach desired outcomes. It often starts with a few words like “what if we tried it this way?” So good morning, Lars, and welcome to the creating sales styles podcast.
Good morning, Pete. Nice to hear your voice and be a part of your podcast.
Yeah, well, we’re delighted to have you on. In fact, Lars – you’re actually the second Swede to be interviewed on our podcast because a few weeks ago we had George Bronten, the CEO and founder of Membrain. So delighted to welcome another Swede to the podcast. So, Lars, the theme the theme of this podcast series is about creating sales stars and providing some insights to sales leaders and sales managers. You know about what’s current thinking in terms of developing world class sales teams. So you know, from your vast experience, you know, running sales teams and consulting. What do you see as the challenges for a sales leader in creating sales excellence in the sales team?
I would say that, first of all, are you a leader or a manager? I think it’s really important to understand the difference about managing people and lead people. And for me, leading is actually to be curious about the future and understand how yourself and others will expand and create the future together. So to have a compelling vision of the future, to be a good communicator. And really get people on board and together create the future that all of your people wants to be a part of. I think that’s a great leadership. So more curiosity on things that you don’t know, then on things that you already know.
And Lars of your know, your experience, do you see a lot of leaders who are perhaps think they know it all about leadership and know it all about sales?
Yes, it’s quite often that I meet with sales managers and CEOs that are really to understand when we walk in and we are going to do a cooperation around a sales transformation program. They often goes into understanding all the details about the program. And I kind of. Take the time to discuss their own ability to have a new approach to the change and if everything was set up and everything should be as according to a plan, nothing will change actually. So everything is about getting people on board and be co-creative to shape the new future.
How do you deal, you know, from your perspective and your other cultures in SalesStar Scandinavia? How do you deal with the challenge where the sales leader might say, Look, we really want to transform performance? You know, you can coach my sales managers or my salespeople, but I’m not going to get involved in being coached. How do you cope with that?
Well, it’s a kind of a dilemma I often take the opportunity to include the CEO, the owners in what our first step is actually to understand the current situation and bring some clarity into the situation they have. And we do that, as you know, Pete with our partner objective management group in Boston, who is the world leader when it comes to assessing salespeople and sales managers and sales team. And what I always suggest, and often I would say in 99 percent, the CEO is eager to show great leadership and I will invite them to do their own questionnaire on their own level, which is sales leadership. And I say it like this. If this is going to be a good investment for you, you need to understand that all change will start with you. And that’s a lesson. I think it’s I mean that is the thing I want to bring into the management team is to understand that all change starts with you guys. If you don’t change now, nobody else will change. So change is – it’s easy to say that others should change. And it is. Also, I always address a comic, Sarah, that I say in that you can see visualise a leader in front of the people and the leader goes, “do you guys want change?” And everybody puts up the hand, “yes, we want change.” And then the next picture, you see the same leaders say, “who wants to change” and nobody brings up their hands. Could you imagine that one?
So, yeah, it’s hard to change if it comes from outside as a direction. It’s easy to change if it comes from inside and you want to do it yourself. So change is the animal of changing yourself and people’s is actually what we are trying to address really early in the process.
So, so I think what you’re saying, Lars, you know, great leadership is about leading by example. So if you’re the leader and you want your sales managers to change their behaviours, adopt new selling practices that you’ve got to demonstrate that you’re all you’re all in as well. Yeah, you want change.
But but it’s a difficult one when you see leading by example, because leading by example could also be misunderstood of being a great salesperson or done a lot of things. So it’s not about your history, it’s about your future.
I love that Lars because I think a lot of sales leaders and salespeople are what we’d say in the UK. And they’re wedded to the past. Yeah, so they don’t want to change because they say, well, actually, we’ve done pretty well Lars, you know, as a business, we’re selling and we’re not prepared to adopt new practices.
Can I also add to that often? I mean, the big problem with leaders and managers is that they talk about change all the time inside the managing team, so change is always on the agenda. So as a content, they are so into change, but they’re not actually doing it. So that will also be a misunderstanding that you think you are about change because you talk about it every day, but you don’t do anything about changing. So that’s an important one.
Lars, what do you think gets in the way of leaders actually changing because you’ve talked about, you know, leaders and managers talk about it, it’s on the agenda. So they’re talking about every day, but they’re not actually doing it. So what do you think prevents people from changing?
Yeah, I want to circle back where I started. I see often that we have leaders and managers that I mean, they have a spirit for controlling instead of leading. So they want to control and. Look after that, people do stuff, but in a way that is not so efficient, I mean, a follow up is very good when you’re doing change work following up feedback. But the thing is that it’s not the thing they want to control. They want to control to by telling. And that will be, I think, awkward and a bit, well, a bad way altogether.
OK that’s some really great insight Lars and essentially say control by telling, which leads nicely into the discussion of the subject of coaching, you know, which we know ourselves is a really big topic. Do you see a lot of, you know, your clients and leaders being resistant to introducing a coaching culture in the sales function?
Well, that is a great question. I think the best coaching question of them all, and that’s also a thing we should install when we start with the change program. A transformation program to be high performing salespeople is the only question is, how do we get better? And that question could never have one answer and it shouldn’t be answered. It should be a question that we always addressing. So the question we should have is open question about the future and be very engaged to that question. Could you repeat the question again because I had something else going in my mind about it?
Yeah, it’s to do with coaching, so way, you know, when you’re working with clients, you know, do you see do you see resistance from leaders to actually start coaching or either start coaching this sales managers and salespeople? Or do you see resistance? Do you see resistance to actually improving the level of coaching?
I love that question because coaching, I think everybody wants coaching. You know, it’s a wide, broad word, word everybody knows about coaching from sports or, you know, coaching. Professional coaching has been on the agenda for many years. So the idea of getting people to be in a coaching structures is, I think all people I work with and we start work with is very open for that. And they want coaching. The problem is to get coaching as a structured way to work because the difficulties I’ve seen many years is to have something that is going to work week in and week out, and it’s holding the managers, the sales manager responsible for the coaching. And there is a couple of things there. First of all, the CEOs normally with scale, with business that we work with, we work with manufacturers and we work with manufacturers and owners that are into scaling up. They probably want to double up the revenue in a period of two or three years. And those guys are not the youngest guys in the company. This is the senior guys. So they often they haven’t experienced themselves any coaching at all. They don’t know what coaching is. So good idea from our side when I work with a CEO is that, you know, it’s good if we address coaching and we start coaching and I coach you and you will have the benefit to experience that from the coaching chair to be coached it’s a great gift, but if you don’t know it, you don’t want to follow up on it. So what you need then is KPI is around coaching, and I think that’s the number one thing that we should install is that we have CEOs that follow up on KPIs, how many people did you coach this week and how many hours did you spend? Because we know from OMG our good partners that if you only do coaching 50% of your time, you don’t need to be skillful, you don’t need to be good at it. But if you only sit down with people, ask a couple of questions and listen to them, really listen to them. You will have a big change. I think that figure is about 26% better sales efficiency. But if you do it randomly, but you do it well, that figure is lower. It’s 16% And all together, you will have so much better efficiency in the sales team. I think that figures is even up to 49% And – so it’s a no brainer and all leaders will say the same thing. Of course, we should coach. The thing is, how will you get coaching up running over time? That’s exactly the question that is so important, and it’s about following up your managers.
OK, Lars you’ve shared with our listeners some real gems there. I love the expression when you say KPIs around coaching, so you know, if you’re the CEO, you know, and I’m your sales leader, how many coaching sessions of year on this week, how effective that have been, know, what are the outcomes we see in the uk a lot of organisations that don’t have KPIs around coaching.
Yeah and and also we also, you know, are infused and we emphasise pipeline management. For example, pipeline management is an important tool to build growth inside your company. But at the same time, coaching management is very important as well. How do we treat that vehicle of ours, the coaching and be careful about it and also sometimes for the CEO’s perspective, also have questions about certain people to go down deep and ask about the quality in the coaching. I think that’s also important. So the both things ask about the numbers as about the volume of coaching, and please ask also about the quality. What do you get out from it? How do you see how people are changing? Because change, it’s hard for people to understand their own change. It’s easy. If you see them from another perspective outside. So the overall CEO/owner should be very focused on understanding and observing change in sales management and also on the sales team level.
Now, can I just come back to something you said before about the CEO experience in coaching and being a coach, being a ‘coachee’? You know, that’s an interesting concept because again, we talked before about, you know, leading by example. A lot of CEOs are actually resistant to being coached themselves. Why do you think some CEOs don’t want to be coached?
Yeah, I have a very good example. I had one guy down here in Southern part of Sweden. It’s a mechanical industry, and he was all open to coaching until the day he actually went into coaching with me and I started to challenge this guy and he had some really, you know, he got all defended about it. And it could be the way I, you know, asked the question and so on. But coaching is not supporting. Coaching is supporting and challenge and challenge is about to get in, you know, passion about the future person in front of you, the future CEO, the future sales manager. So you should be so keen about who this person wants to be in the future. And that is connecting with all the talk about your dreams, your goals. Why are you here on the earth? What’s your assignment overall? And when I start to push this guy, he go, you know, I don’t I don’t like this. I don’t like this session. And he was offended from it. I think alot of CEOs – they marched the way the carrier’s been pretty without people. Question them. And that’s what we call a, you know, an authority or a very, you know, top down kind of leadership. I don’t think that leadership is really effective when it comes to building a coaching culture. I’ve seen other guys that is are the opposite side. They are humble, they are low key speaker. They don’t have answers for everything. They are more, collaborating in the leaders leadership style. And that’s so much more effective.
OK, I mean, essentially, you talked about humility and collaboration. Do you see sometimes leaders can let their own ego get in the way of success?
Of course I say it every day. And I think there is also, you know, it’s how they portray the leadership and who they are really as leaders. And I think that’s also a very, very delicate question. When you start working with people in the coaching frame is to address that question carefully and say, who do you want to be as a leader? Who are you as a leader and who do you want to become as a leader and put words to that because words will start to change the way you behave? So I think it’s important and also that you start to respect leadership because everything when people talk about values and culture and all that stuff, it goes back to the leaders because the culture is as good as leaders are. Holding themselves together and as a container and not leaking out, you know, they say one thing and they do another. That’s, you know, the old fashioned about being a bad leader. It’s like you have the high morale kind of speech all the time. And then you do go and do a completely difference from what you said. So I don’t know if I answered the question.
It was to do, Lars, with, you know, do you see leaders ego getting in the way?
And yeah, and I went all out and explained other things. But yeah, ego is also what is it? You know, you need to address that a little bit. And I think if it’s I mean, all people when we work with change, they will address one question. It’s what what? What’s in it for me? W I FM radio channel. So I mean, people, they don’t want to change because you want to change or your company want to grow. I think you need to understand why people should change and be very focused on. People want to change because they want to grow themselves. So I don’t like the phrases like you can get all people working for you if you coach them, right? Well, that’s that sound for me. A little bit manipulative. How do you say that word? Manipulative, yeah, manipulative. For me, it’s much more. If you are a great leader, you will emphasise on people’s own change and what they want to get out of it. So all people start from there. If you have a great ego as a CEO and you think it’s all about you. Well, it’s not going to work for you. That’s that’s the sad answer for my side.
No, there’s some, some excellent points. There are I mean, a few weeks ago, I was talking to the CEO of one of my clients, and he coined the expression accidental leader, and I asked him to define what he meant by that. And he said an accidental leader is somebody who they don’t necessarily want to lead, but they make great leaders because it’s not about them. They sit there, sit very much in the background that they’re for the people. They empower people and they may often have been, you know, this was a sales leader as well. Somebody knows how to sell, but they also know how to coach their people. And to really transform performance…
…and coaching is people’s business, right, it’s something to do with people and you should be very curious about that, and curiosity is really important when you’re into coaching, because if the answers to things that people do or they will answer, it’s not a good way to even address that question. So you always need to drive a question you don’t have an answer to. And if you have that mindset, that will start to change immediately, that’s what I think. So, Yeah.
And Lars, I’d like to come back to you for a moment as well, so obviously you’re growing your SalesStar practice in Scandinavia. And you know, I know the clients you’re working with and your coach, we’re getting great value. What challenges have you faced over the years as a leader yourself?
It’s a great question, isn’t it? Thanks well, I think, you know, I think it’s about mindset. I think if you go into this kind of business or lifestyle, what I would say to try to scale up a business, start a business, then trying to get others inside it and scale it up together, I think you should be. For me, it’s a lifestyle. I love it. I always been in some kind of situation where I’ve been in owning my own company, owning it together with others. And that’s really important for me because I think that’s about. And I don’t I know it’s not about, but it’s I have this idea about freedom, right? But the challenges that I would say is often about. It’s about my personality and challenges because I work with coaching. My challenge is right in my head. So the things I think I know or the things, I think it’s a good conclusion or, you know, a belief that are really trust, that is often the things that stand in the way for me. So coaching should be on that level. And I can coach others and I can listen to the limited beliefs and all that stuff. But when it comes to myself, it’s super hard to understand if this belief is going to help me now or is it something that is really going to, you know, put an end to stuff. So you always need someone coaching you to get into your own thinking. That’s that’s my understanding and coaching for me is actually really easy. It’s helping others to help themselves because the biggest challenge you will have as a practice partner for myself now is your own thinking, your own emotions, going with you and going against you. So therefore, for me to have the ability to grow something, I want to have the same structure around me that we are trying to provide for our clients.
So you’ve raised some really great points, there, Lars. So you talked about understanding your own emotions. So I’m just going to put this into the world of, you know, our listeners. So do you think it’s really important that these days for a leader to be vulnerable, for example? I mean, you know, what you’re sharing here demonstrates your own vulnerability as a leader. Do you think it’s important for a leader to demonstrate their own vulnerability and you know what emotions they carry to their team?
Yeah, I think it’s about seniority as well. Younger guys, they often think that strengths are the most important to show the surroundings, the people you work with. But that’s as you’re getting older and it’s about not about age, actually, it’s about seniority and how to grow as a person and. The quickest way to connect with a person is not on your strength, it’s on your weaknesses. So if you can open up a dialogue conversation about your own weaknesses, your own emotion, that is something that you probably not want to open up. For others, that kind of conversation is really that. That’s what I think creates relationships, boundary and trust. Because when you talk about delicate things, sensitive things, it’s also should be surrounded. And I think it creates automatically a very, very special kind of place to work and live in.
Do you think why do you think leaders are frightened of showing their vulnerability and weaknesses with others?
I don’t know. Well, I know from my personal perspective, you maybe it’s about the – … I think it’s about your life, how you were raised, your background, your parents, the values we have in the community over all the I mean the professional view on people, how they should act old kind of beliefs around leaders, all kind of beliefs around how salespeople should behave and act and all that stuff. It’s a delicate and I mean in a bit of a complicated question. And if I could relate to myself when I was younger, I was afraid to open up because I thought that would if I were open up. I thought that others should take advantage on that. Me opening up. Me being sensitive or vulnerable. And my experience is completely the difference. The different reactions. If you open up, you will have so much more understanding. You will have passion around you. We have support around you and you will have the ability to grow. So well, I don’t know if I answered to that question, but you know, it’s a bit complicated.
No, I mean, maybe, maybe it’s a whole topic for another podcast, Lars. But you know, you’ve given some fantastic insight there. So Lars, what advice would you share it with somebody who’s new into sales management or new into sales leadership? What are the two or three things that you would get, you know, a new sales manager or sales leaders to really focus in on to help them be successful? You know, you’ve got a lot of you’ve got a lot of commercial experience. So what would you what would you share with them?
Well, of course, you can share on a different level. I mean, you can talk about philosophy, about leadership, all this big stuff. I actually had a conversation yesterday with one of my prospects and this guy go. He had – he defined, you know, a great salesperson or a manager, like, be hungry, be humble and be smart. And I thought that was super. But of course, it’s more to it. And if I was to give some advice to a new sales leader, I would say, you know, think about your background where you come from. And that being a good often, you know, we have great salespeople that are changing into a new role, and the new role is often than sales management and it’s not the same thing. I met a lot of sales managers that think that they were good as a salesperson. They had great results. There have been high performers and then they should show others what that is about. And I think that’s a terrible mistake. It’s not the same thing to be having deleted jacket than being the high performer in a sales team. But sometimes when we start to work with sales managers, they have one foot in the selling. And the other foot in managing. I would, you know, give the greatest advice that. What’s your passions about passion about? And they often go, it’s something I love doing business. I love to grow our business and I go. So now you are a manager. Are you prepared to? You know, take that part away from you and focus on managing others that do that you love. And they go, I don’t know, and I say, I don’t think so. You need to be where you get your energy and your passion. So a good start will be. Keep going with your, you know, take up the flag, run to the hills, be out there on the market. Be the change that you want to see in your people. That’s a good start. But when the team is getting bigger, when you grow with people and when your business grow and your numbers grow, probably you need to be more into the managing role. So I would always say, where do you get your passion? Where is your, you know, your energy? Where is your positive thinking? Be there. The other thing I would say is to create, if you’re going to create a good team, check out the, you know, professional football teams or whatever. What are the way what’s the top three things that you should understand from, you know, creating a great sports team or football team is probably the most, most, most, most important is if you’re going to be outstanding, you need to work and live with outstanding people. I got that from an American coach one time, and but I think it’s great and and I haven’t been, you know, outstanding during my life. I’ve been in mediocre mediocrity as well mediocrity. But but if you start to address that question, how can I get outstanding people? You have to define outstanding and you have to try to go out there and get them. So I think building a team is about have the courage to understand. It’s not only the people I work with now, it’s the future people that we are going to work with. Because if we change some of the I mean, if you’re getting in New players in the team, we all directly are going to change and that seemed to grow- group and team dynamics, of course. And that’s also another session, right?
Yeah, that’s definitely another. I mean, I love what you say about work with outstanding people and a build on that last. Somebody once said to me, surround yourself with the best people that you can because what what? What happens is you will raise your own performance to a higher bar.
And I would also advise them to have a coach that holds you responsible. For the leadership that you are supposed to do, you know, get get, get the program for change. Be careful what you process. Up a strong process, sales process or delivery process or whatever your process is about. But the process is very good because that’s the centre of scalability to have a team discussing. The micro stuff that you know, what do you say the devil is in the detail? You need to. Yeah and you need to have a team really focusing on how we are going to be better. Better is about detail and getting the details to be masterful and knowing what mastery is. And I have a background in karate, so I become the whole way up to a Black belt. But that kind of training is always about a lot of time and trying and trying to be a little bit better every time you do that, the punch or the kick or whatever you do. Circle back to that. I think it’s back also to the things that you have to be very focused and interesting in the ability that people. I mean, in the growth itself. So watch out for all the things you think, you know, and put that aside when you work with people and be so much more curious about things, they will, you know, attempt and people will do. And you said something there. The thing to empower people is actually tell them and give them good feedback. And good feedback is not only to say, well done because that is only a word, it’s well done and trying to explain what you have observed and why it’s well done. And be careful about that to empower people really to emphasise on things that your surrounding your people, your team is actually producing in a new way, in a way that are giving you the ability to grow and win on the market. Because the end of the day selling is a competition, as it should be both working in team, but it’s we are out there on our field and it’s the market and it’s about winning or dying, and you need to have a special people inside that really loves competition, compete between themselves in the team and compete with your competitors out on the market. And that kind of atmosphere is really special. So my biggest advice also to say slightly is that you have to work with dilemmas. You know, one thing you want to help each other, you want to work as a team, but in the same time, you will create some common competition between you guys. So, you know, it’s kind of a delicate assignment as a leader to be as a sales manager sales leader.
Yeah well, last week we come to the end of the podcast and Thanks so much. You’ve shared some tremendous insights and information with our listeners.
I was about to say, sorry, I talk too much.
No, no, definitely not. I’ve really enjoyed this. So, Lars, if people want to reach out and connect with you, what’s the best way that they can contact you? What’s the best way to connect with you?
I think the best way is actually to find us on our website www.salesstar.com. We have all the teams there. We are the Scandinavian team, and if they want to reach out to me, I have also an email and it’s Lars dot and here comes my last name, Alberyd at SalesStar dot com. And of course, we are on LinkedIn. And I think that’s a beautiful platform to reach out to each other and to create new businesses and also have a great communication with people that you already work with. So we are out on LinkedIn and please, if you find me, contact me on the LinkedIn. That’s a super good idea.
Well, thank you very much. Again, Lars and I look forward to interviewing again in the future.
Great thank you so much for having me on the show today.
Thank you again.
Thanks for listening. This podcast was brought to you by SalesStar and hosted by Pete Evans. For more information about what we can offer you head to our website at salesstar.com/UK. You can also find us on all social media platforms just by searching for SalesStar UK.
Presenter and Producer: Pete Evans
Special Guest: Lars Alberyd
Producer and Intro/Outro Voiceover: Oliver Eaton
Podcast Editor: Alex Mullen