Today, one of the most critical functions of a sales manager is providing coaching for the sales team. Learning to be effective at sales coaching should be your top priority as a manager. Coaching means a lot more than just telling people the way you were successful as a salesperson. You have to develop an ongoing coaching relationship with your salespeople through one-on-one sales coaching. Here are a few tips for effective coaching sessions.
Personalize Your Coaching
Everyone is different, and each of your salespeople has different challenges. You have to assess each person’s strengths and weakness in order to develop a personalized development program. You might have had a lot of success in sales in
the past, but what worked well for you may not work for another person. Now you are a teacher and a coach: you have to diagnose problems and help the ‘coachee’ come up with solutions to help past obstacles and drive sales.
Focus on One Issue
You don’t want to take the shotgun approach in your coaching sessions. Focus is better than covering tons of issues. You can’t solve all of your salesperson’s problems at once. Even if you could, it’s not such a wise idea. It takes away from the ‘cutting edge focus’ required for the most pertinent matters. Things will go much better if you pick one or two of the most critical issues and start working on those. When these issues improve, you can move onto other issues.
Observe Your Team in Action
The best way you can help your salespeople is to observe their behavior. Accompany your team members when they call on prospects. Watch them when they make calls or follow up calls. Sit in on their presentations. You do not have scrutinize their every move, but you want to get a good sense for how they are doing. You will only be able to assess what areas need improvement if you can observe your team members in action.
Get Buy-In From Your Team
Sales Coaching goes much better when your sales team understands the purpose and the need for coaching. If they understand that they are going to receive regular coaching from you and buy into to the coaching process, then they are not going to resist what you have to say or resist the process completely.
Sales Coaching Not Performance Reviews
A performance review is necessarily critical and even confrontational. It puts your employees on edge. It is not a safe place where people experience support. Coaching, on the other hand, should provide a safe environment to confide in the coach. It is a positive and supportive environment that is geared toward growth. You don’t want to go a coaching session with the same demeanor as a performance review.
In The Dirty Secret of Effective Sales Coaching, Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson noted that their Sales Executive Council study, which involved thousands of sales representatives, saw an up-to-19% sustained improvement in the performance of sales representatives who received quality coaching.
Love the Process
You cannot risk looking at sales coaching as a series of isolated meetings. It is an ongoing process within your sales organization. You want to make sure that you have an organizational infrastructure set up to support this ongoing process. This is the best way to get results. When you approach a coaching session, you are not just looking at this particular meeting but you have an entire relationship and training arc in mind.
Sales coaching is an important part of managing a sales team. With experience and practice, you can implement an effective coaching program that will improve your team’s performance and enhance their skills.
Coaching without Assessments is malpractice
What confidence would you have if your doctor made a decision to schedule brain surgery for a minor headache without running any diagnostic assessments such as a blood work to a brain scan?
Would you be quickly excusing yourself and finding another doctor?
Coaches and consultants who provide solutions without engaging in any diagnostic assessments are committing malpractice in the purest sense. They are in the role of “Captain Wing It” where they spray their coaching solutions based on not necessarily the best evidence and then pray something will stick. Moreover, as a human being, we all have our biases. The best way to protect your self and your clients is to use a research-based and validated assessment tools like TTI Success Insights South Africa suite of assessments. We have a few for the sales environment too.
In conclusion, Coaching is an integral part of sales management. So important that if your sales managers/leaders are not coaching, the organization is probably not operating optimally on the sales front.