Patience Is a Virtue in Sales Coaching
Patience is not a word often associated with sales. In fact, most sales leaders operate at one speed — impatience. Yet for sales coaches and trainers, patience is a virtue that can make or break your sales team’s success. Learning to master sales is neither easy nor quick. The ability to endure challenging situations is a defining characteristic of every successful sales coach and trainer. In this article, we will review the importance of patience for sales leaders, how to practice it, and strategies for developing more patience in the hectic world of sales.
We’ve all heard good things come to those who wait. But rarely does that apply to sales reps. The clock is always ticking, whether it’s the initial training to onboard new sales hires, making the end-of-month numbers, or hitting quarterly quota. Time waits for no one in sales. When sales leaders transition from sales manager to sales coach, they also need to change their temperament. Having patience as a sales coach will actually help your reps perform better. Patience will prevent sales coaches from stressing sales reps out and overwhelming them in the moment. Sales is stressful enough; sales reps and new hires don’t need anxiety while trying to learn new sales skills.
Why Patience Is So Important in Sales Training
As sales leaders we want to see immediate results. We’ve been conditioned to find a solution quickly if we don’t get what we want. We are usually the hardest on ourselves and that drive is part of what made us successful in sales. However, as a sales coach, that burning desire for achievement can be a death sentence. We need to readjust our mindset and appreciate being patient while coaching sales reps is not being “passive” or “waiting” for sales reps to succeed. Patience is about having empathy when trying to impact those under our guidance.
As a sales trainer, we are challenged with changing behaviors. This means that many sales reps have to relearn or unlearn what it means to sell. It is common for sales leaders to feel as if the training is taking longer than expected. They place their high expectations on their students, without keeping in mind that not everyone learns at the same pace. It can be frustrating as a new hire to see other sales reps achieving success faster than yourself. Compound that feeling with a sales trainer who is impatient and you have a recipe for a toxic work environment. Patience for a sales trainer means they are highly focused on improving behaviors, while sales managers are highly focused on outcomes.
When your sales reps show signs of frustration, sales coaches need to support them, not become agitated. Without patience, a sales trainer cannot be an effective facilitator for the entire team. Some sales reps will comprehend the material with little effort, while others will need extra help and more repetition. When sales trainers rush to improve performance, performance suffers. Each student learns at their own pace and it’s important for sales coaches to accept and respect that. A sales coach who displays impatience is focusing on what’s wrong, while a sales coach who displays patience is focused on growth.
How To Develop Patience as a Sales Coach
Developing patience as a sales leader comes with experience and empathy. Patience is not a skill you can develop by reading a book or taking an online course. It’s only learned through actual practice. The best place to start developing patience is with setting realistic expectations for yourself and learners. Unrealistic expectations are a key contributor to impatience. When sales trainers set the bar at the highest performance of their best sales rep, they create an expectation that leads to impatience. Therefore, sales coaches and trainers should create a realistic plan for their sales training.
Conventional wisdom says sales reps who complete their initial onboard sales training should be able to produce satisfactory sales results. As a sales training organization, we’ve found that for sales reps who are early in their sales careers, there’s a steep learning curve that takes months until they reach a satisfactory performance level. It’s our experience that many organizations need to rethink their expectations with their new hire sales reps. Picking an arbitrary timeframe for sales training, for example two weeks, may be inadequate for complex sales.
For complex sales environments, the learning curve is steep, yet most companies have not investigated or documented how long it takes their new sales reps to become proficient. As a sales trainer, you need to answer the question, “How long does it take an average rep to become proficient?” This requires a definitive definition of what proficient looks like for your organization. From there, you can develop a realistic timeframe to accomplish the sales training objective. Vague objectives lead to unpredictable results. Unpredictability is the mother of impatience. If you want to develop patience, develop a predictable training process.
Planning Leads to Patience
Developing patience as a sales coach means we dedicate considerable time and attention to planning, prior to the first coaching session. Part of sales training planning should include an assessment. Sales trainers who do not understand the interconnection between sales assessments and learning often feel like sales assessments are a waste of time. They are so eager to train that they don’t have time to assess. However, starting a training session without an assessment can end up prolonging the learning journey. Sales trainers who do not conduct an assessment first will find it difficult to prioritize which areas to train in.
Figure Out Your Triggers
In our instant gratification world, anything that causes a delay can trigger impatience. For sales coaches, being able to handle the triggers is a sign of emotional maturity. When something triggers your impatience, it will help to take the time to reflect on what is going well and how you can learn from the current crisis. If you do not take the time to figure out what triggers you, you will continue to be impatient. This requires a deliberate effort. As you become more aware of your triggers, you can reduce your negative reactions.
Consciously Slow Down
Technology has programmed us to expect instant gratification. Many business outcomes are available to us instantly. We are constantly checking our phones and looking at real-time dashboards. When our expectations increase, our level of patience decreases. Being mindful or present in the moment without judging counteracts the need for instant feedback. You don’t have to feel like you’re in a race against the clock. There is a saying in the military, “fast is smooth and smooth is fast.” For sales trainers, “smooth” can mean no rushing, no judging, and no drama. When you rush, you miss things. When you miss things, learning suffers.
Developing patience is more than learning to wait for results. For sales trainers and coaches to have the best possible impact on their students, they must first be patient. The fast-paced, get-it-done mentality that worked well as a high achiever in sales does not transfer well to the sales trainer role. Sales coaching is a cost-effective strategy for improving sales performance, but to maximize your results, it requires patience. When sales coaches can set realistic expectations, follow a detailed training plan, include assessments, and stay mindful in stressful situations, they can avoid the emotional rollercoaster of first time sales coaches. If your team is struggling with sales training challenges, learning patience and other sales coaching skills may help. At Janek Performance Group, we provide a structured train-the-trainer program.
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