In speaking with, and consulting sales organizations across the country, one thing that appears to be a commonality regardless of size or industry, is a general misunderstanding of sales coaching.
This is not to say that these organizations don’t value or see the need for sales coaching, but rather that their current approach is not utilizing the most effective sales coaching methodology.
Here are some ineffective sales coaching practices we have witnessed:
- Once-a-year performance evaluations
- Asking a rep why they aren’t making their numbers
- Demanding better performance without providing a means to achieve it
- Providing a few positive platitudes in a sales meeting
- Telling all other reps to just do what your top rep is doing
- Firing the bottom performers and warning the remaining staff to improve their performance
It’s not enough to simply tell reps to focus on vital sales skills or to cajole them into better performance. Good sales coaches engage in a two-way exchange of information with team members to understand their perspective and are capable of offering insights, resources, thoughts, and ideas for improvement.
This happens as coaches ask questions to:
- Learn about a person’s motivation
- Uncover the challenges and opportunities a salesperson is facing
- Identify key needs and developmental opportunities
Does this sound similar to the sales process? It should.
Good coaching is about being genuine; building trust and rapport to more easily uncover sales representatives’ key needs, challenges and opportunities. It’s then helping representatives find the appropriate solutions and moving forward together toward those solutions.
Very practically, the best way to help sales reps implement new skills is to role-play. Role-plays sometimes get a bad rap because they can feel contrived or uncomfortable for sales people. However…isn’t it more uncomfortable to practice new skills in a live environment with results on the line?
When sales reps know and trust their manager as someone who wants to help them, they will listen. Remember, sales coaching is about them and their development as a person and improving their sales skills. Coaching is not about hitting a number or achieving short-term results. Sales coaching is long-term development of individuals to help them perform at their highest levels.
We actually dive much deeper into the topic of sales coaching and what it looks like, what it entails, and a variety of best practices in our upcoming white paper: Keys to Effective Sales Coaching. Look for it coming out next month!
In the meantime, please explore our dedicated sales coaching services.