Sales coaching is the most important sales management activity for driving sales performance. Unfortunately, most managers haven’t been taught how to properly coach their staff. If a sales manager could transform into an elite, top-level sales coach overnight, the impact on sales results would be outright amazing! You’d be known as a great sales leader and the envy of colleagues.
The problem is, coaching is a skill that takes time and practice to perfect. Without ongoing sales management training or hiring an executive coach how can you transform yourself into a highly effective sales coach?
Luckily I’ve seen the good, the bad and even the ugly sides of coaching over my many years of working with sales managers. Over that time, I’ve noted what the best coaches do differently. In today's blog I’m going to share the six techniques that the best sales coaches do differently.
Effective Sales Coaches
1. Ask Effective Questions
Most sales managers started out as salespeople and excelled in their jobs before being promoted to management. So when they are faced with problems, the obvious way to think is “what would I do?” This is followed by telling the sales rep what to do and how to do it.
No one wants to be told what to do. Not only that, you want to create a team of self-managers who can think on their own. Just imagine how much you’re going to love dealing with every single issue for every rep on your team! It’s great, right? NOT!
Of course, not. It’s not great, it’s terrible. What we need instead are self-reliant reps who can think on their own to solve their problems or issues. To be an awesome sales manager you should avoid telling your sales team what to do and start asking them questions about what the issue is and to help them develop their own solutions. Prod them to think independently and guide them in the right direction. By doing this, you now have a team of reps who are developing themselves and thinking critically. Your guidance and experience can help to guide them, without them being reliant on you.
2. Spend More Time in the Field
Being pro-active is another key factor for good coaching. Improving team performance is going to have a large impact on sales concerning virtually anything else you need to do. It is important that you focus your time here instead of on clearing your email inbox or making reports that look nice and pretty.
Get out of your office and start coaching your team. Observe what they’re doing well and focus on what are their opportunities for improvement. Coach them to become better salespeople and help them get over any hurdles they may encounter. This type of mentoring builds a closer, harder working team while your influence provides the extra edge needed for your team to reach new heights.
3. Focus On One Skill At A Time
In sales, great results come from a combination of different factors. This makes it very tempting to just write them all down on a list and ask your team to work on each one of them. Most people find it challenging to change or improve in multiple areas; it is just too difficult.
Start by having the rep work on one skill at a time. Only once that skill is perfected do they move on to the next skill. Now think about how much attention you can give to helping your salespeople improve in one area at a time?
By focusing on one or two skills, your sales reps won’t be overwhelmed with a massive list of what to work on. A single focus lets them learn quicker, they’ll get a deeper understanding of what you’re teaching, and the result will be far better. As your sales rep sees improvement, this builds trust in your coaching and accelerates the learning curve.
4.Let Their Reps Decide On What They Work On
While it’s true that there’s no “i” in “team,” we all know that a team is made up of individual people. Each one of these people are different, meaning they all possess different strengths and weaknesses.
So what happens if you ask them to all work on improving the same skill? Well, if every rep is not committed to working on that one skill you are not going to get the results you desire.
Keep in mind that it is very challenging to change especially if you are not committed to working on that skill. By having the sales rep decide on their area of focus, they will have a greater sense of ownership for improvement.
Understanding the uniqueness of your team is important as it affects how you coach them. We all respond to different techniques, so be observant and figure out how you can get the best results from your team.
5. Have The Reps Build Their Own Improvement Plan
Once your reps identify what they are committed to working on, it’s time to come up with a game plan to help them reach and achieve their goals. You need to have the reps think through the steps that they are going to take.
The key here is to involve the reps in creating their own plan and identifying the steps needed to take in improving their area of focus. Involving them in these steps gives them an opportunity to voice suggestions or concerns as well as gives them a greater sense of ownership for their skill improvement. There’s a boost in belief and confidence as they understand that by creating their own goals and game plan it is something they are capable of achieving.
All great sales coaches use these techniques to get the best results from their team. For results to keep coming and be consistent there is still one more thing that must be done.
6. They are Big on Accountability
Getting the reps to work on improving their performance and identifying what they want to work on is all well and good, as is creating a game plan. The thing is, though, some people fall off the wagon and forget about what they have committed to work on.
The best way to keep your sales reps on track is to hold them accountable for what they do and track their results and progress. You need to review the commitments they’ve made to monitor how well they are progressing and whether they are on track.
If they go off track, it’s up to you to get them back on track and provide the necessary encouragement, advice or even discipline. Remember it’s still best to keep open communication so you can ask what’s going on as there could be a problem the rep is struggling with and is hesitant to talk to you about it.
Holding your team accountable also means encouraging success and reinforcing it. An awesome sales coach knows how to get a team performing and how to keep them there.
Now that we’ve seen what effective sales coaches do differently, it is time for you to try out these techniques.
Effective sales coaches ask thought provoking questions. They ask their reps what they want to focus on improving. Awesome sales coaches have their reps figure out how they can best achieve these improvements. They have them commit and implement a game plan. Lastly and most importantly, great sales coaches hold their team accountable for both success and failure alike!
All the success,
We help sales reps and sales organizations accelerate their sales.