Sales coach, educator and writer Robert Kennedy is About.com's Guide to Private Schools.
I am a sales coach for a major technology reseller. 40 years ago I would have laughed you out of the room had you said in 2008 that I would be responsible for 40 people who have to produce $100 million a year in sales. And are expected to do double digit YOY growth in revenue and profit on top of that.
From Music to Sales
When I look back at my long and varied career and try to figure out how I got to where I am now, I have to admit to being amazed and thankful for every bit of that journey. I grew up as a tightly buttoned Anglo kid in Westmount, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I had had piano lessons since I was 4 years old. That in itself is kind of amazing because I did not have a piano, just a cardboard keyboard. My folks couldn't afford the real thing. My grandmother Kennedy donated her piano to the cause and a lifetime of music began to grow and flower. The long and short of it is that I ended up at London's Royal College of Music with my beloved late wife Nancy taking a teaching job to support me.
I had a great ride for 35 years working in several major Episcopal churches in New York and Connecticut. Nancy got a great job in the Bahamas as general manager of what was then Bank of Boston's major off shore international trust processing center. I worked for several private schools there and founded a school. Then in 1997 Nancy was gone. Snuffed out by liver failure. I was cast adrift. Or at least that's how I felt then.
Starting a New Career Path
My network wasn't interested in a 53 year old. I would cost too much. And besides I was out of the loop. I ended up starting a whole new career by signing on with TigerDirect as an entry level tech in 1998. One thing has led to another and I am now a sales coach in the business to business sales division in North Carolina.
I have the coolest job as far as I am concerned. Why? Because it uses every bit of experience and knowledge I have acquired over the last 40 years.
Sales coaching requires constant attention to details. Lord knows, I had a surfeit of that sort of thing as a performing musician. Back in my performing years I didn't dare play an organ recital at St. Thomas', Fifth avenue, New York, unless it was note perfect. Sales coaching has to be 'note perfect'. I monitor my sales people constantly. I listen to their phone calls. I look at what is behind their numbers. I review the quality of their accounts. I assess every opportunity, massage every deal until it ships.
A Sales Coach is a Teacher
A sales coach has to be a teacher. Teaching isn't just showing people how to do something. It is inspiring them to do something. That's exactly what I did for 35 years as a choirmaster of all those many and varied choirs of children and adults. They may have intrinsically enjoyed singing but only I had the training and the experience and the vision to know what it all had to sound like and how to make them sound like something. One of my choirs spent a week each as the resident choir at Ely Cathedral, Canterbury Cathedral and Chichester Cathedral. I know how to do world-class.