2 Essentials for Sales Coaching Success

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”no” equal_height_columns=”no” menu_anchor=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_position=”center center” background_repeat=”no-repeat” fade=”no” background_parallax=”none” parallax_speed=”0.3″ video_mp4=”” video_webm=”” video_ogv=”” video_url=”” video_aspect_ratio=”16:9″ video_loop=”yes” video_mute=”yes” overlay_color=”” video_preview_image=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” padding_top=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” padding_right=””][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ layout=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” border_position=”all” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding_top=”” padding_right=”” padding_bottom=”” padding_left=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” center_content=”no” last=”no” min_height=”” hover_type=”none” link=””][fusion_text]The priorities and approaches applied by your salespeople are shaped largely by your own priorities and approaches. What’s important to you will become important to them. The difference between an effective sales coach and an ineffective one can be seen in what they focus on and what they get their reps to focus on. Here are two sales coaching challenges and solutions that, when implemented, will help you become an exceptional sales coach:

Do you do something every day to help your team improve?

The best sales teams have reps who are constantly looking for ways to improve their skill set—to win a sale tomorrow by doing something they aren’t great at today. For a few reps, that mentality will come naturally, but to most of them, it has to be taught and reinforced. If you as the sales manager are constantly looking for ways to help the team improve your reps will pick up that attitude as well.

Reflect for a moment on your activities last week, in terms of how you spent your time. How many activities and tasks did you get involved in that had no impact on your team’s performance? Sales managers I talk to are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of “stuff” coming at them: fires, interruptions, unimportant meeting requests, emails/texts/calls/requests… the list of demands is endless. These time wasters prevent you from spending quality time with your salespeople, and identifying ways for your team to improve.

To get out of that trap, think about what you can contribute that will significantly improve your team’s performance and results. Now compare that to how you are actually spending your time.

Odds are good that you’re spending too much time doing things that make other people happy (because they’ve foisted their problems or challenges on you). That means you have little time to do the things that only you can do—namely, helping your reps improve their skills.

So what I want you to do is start a To Don’t list. Make a list of the things you did last week that you will not do next week. Post this list in your workspace (or on your smartphone) and refer to it often. The next time somebody comes to you with an “urgent” request for you to do something ask them, “What is it that you want me to do and why haven’t you done that yourself yet?”

How much do you focus on pre-call planning?

Here is a trap that we sales managers often fall into, and it’s a trap driven by human nature … we tend to place more of our interest and awareness on the outcomes and results that have occurred rather than the input side of the sales performance equation.

Yet sales effectiveness is largely determined by the inputs—the questions salespeople ask of prospects and clients at every step of the sales cycle is what shapes the prospect’s vision of a solution and purchasing criteria, hopefully in your favor. Top salespeople know that to get the most out of each call or meeting—and to keep customers moving forward toward the buying decision—they have to carefully architect the questions they are going to ask.

For example, an experienced salesperson will ask the following kinds of questions of themselves at different steps in selling: What problems might this prospect have that we can solve? Where is this prospect in the buying process? What specific action do I want this prospect to take at the end of this meeting? What other decision makers need to get involved and how can I reach them? Where is our offering strongest and weakest against the competition? How can I get the customer to place more emphasis on buying criteria linked to our strengths?

To get your salespeople to think that way, you as a coach have to emphasize how important you think pre-call planning is. So rather than ask reps for status reports on things that have already happened (“how did that meeting go?”), switch to asking them about their next meeting or call: Who’s going to be in on the meeting? How far along are they in the decision process? What is the action you want them to take afterwards? What do you have to ask the customer to get them to agree to that action?

Thomas Edison said, “Good fortune often happens when opportunity meets preparation.” When you take time for pre-call planning you make an important statement to your salespeople that pre-call planning is important to you.

For more ideas on improving your sales coaching skills, download my free whitepaper “6 Strategies for Superior Sales Coaching.“[/fusion_text][/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Kevin Davis

Kevin F. Davis is the author of The Sales Manager’s Guide to Greatness”, which was named the 2018 Axiom Business Book Award Winner, Silver Medal. Kevin is also the author of Slow Down, Sell Faster!”.